Editor's Note: To accompany the review of "The Norton Anthology of African American Literature," the Book Review asked a number of distinguished black Americans to name the works by African Americans that most moved or influenced them.
Most African children in the American public school system are taught to despise reading, not by anything that is said but by the desperate absence of familiar, clear, strong African voices in the curriculum. Upon entering college, I was introduced to a world of thoughts, philosophies and literature written by African people. Reading helped me to confirm that I was not, in fact, crazy, that my experience in America as an African was extremely difficult by design. I recommend: "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," by Malcolm X with Alex Haley; "American Hunger," by Richard Wright; and "The Souls of Black Folk" by W.E.B. DuBois. These works are for anyone searching to understand the history, emotion, politics and psychology of being African in a country that only reluctantly--and even then rarely--honors our presence and contributions.