The ASALH Book Prize for the best new book in African American history and culture

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) awards an annual prize to recognize an outstanding book in the field of African American history and culture.

A call for submissions went out in Spring 2023 and the selection committee received seventy eligible books, all of which engaged archival sources while representing many disciplinary and interdisciplinary orientations. In broad term, the ASALH Book Prize committee is interested in monographs that model rigorous and imaginative approaches to this field of study; books that are beautifully written; books that have clear implications for how we teach and represent specific aspects of African American history and culture; books that have the capacity to introduce important aspects of African American experiences to broad publics; books that use sharp analyses of African American history and culture to speak boldly to the contemporary moment; books that engage new and/or previously underutilized archives; and books that use particular experiences in African American history and culture to illuminate universal aspects of the human experience.

The ASALH Book Prize selection committee includes five jurors: Professor Kellie Carter-Jackson, Wellesley College; Professor Russell Rickford, Cornell University; Professor Jelani Favors, NC A&T State University; Professor Shannon King, Fairfield University; Professor Hilary Green, Davidson College. This selection committee received and read nearly seventy books and they selected eight finalists. ASALH thanks the jurors for their time and hard work!

Congratulations to all the finalists for their outstanding work!


  • Emily Owens, Consent in the Presence of Force: Sexual Violence and Black Women’s Survival in Antebellum New Orleans (The University of North Carolina Press)

  • Kidada E. Williams, I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War against Reconstruction (Bloomsbury Publishing)

  • Ava Purkiss, Fit Citizens: A History of Black Women’s Exercise from Post-Reconstruction to Postwar America (The University of North Carolina Press)

  • Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, Cross-Border Cosmopolitans: The Making of a Pan-African North America (University of North Carolina Press)

  • Barbara D. Savage, Merze Tate: The Global Odyssey of a Black Woman Scholar (Yale University Press)

  • Matthew Frye Jacobson, Dancing Down the Barricades: Sammy Davis Jr. and the Long Civil Rights Era (University of California Press)

  • Richard Edwards, Friefeld Jacob K., The First Migrants: How Black Homesteaders’ Quest for Land and Freedom Heralded America’s Great Migration (Bison Books)

  • Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar, America’s Black Capital: How African Americans Remade Atlanta in the Shadow of the Confederacy (Basic Books)

The winner(s) of the ASALH Book Prize will be announced on ASALH TV on February 20th at 6:00 p.m. EST. This event is part of the 2024 ASALH Black History Month Festival. For more details about go to: