Dr. Charles Becknell Jr. is an alumni of the University of New Mexico, and the Director of UNM’s Africana Studies program. After completing his undergraduate degree at UNM, Dr. Becknell earned his master’s degree . in Criminal Justice Administration from Clark University, and returned to UNM to complete his doctorate and postdoctoral work. He has also held positions in the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Dr. Becknell has taught in Africana Studies and in the College of Education, so the Daily Lobo was eager to receive his top five book recommendations:

“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Alex Haley and Malcom X

“I read this book as an undergraduate student coming into manhood. Up to this point I saw Malcolm X as a distant icon. However, the book made him a tangible figure that confronted the same racial and social experiences that I was. In the end, his book helped me better define race and the Black male experience in the U.S.”

“A Taste of Power: A Black Women’s Story” by Elaine Brown

“I appreciate Elaine Brown’s autobiography because it paints a stunning picture of a Black woman’s coming of age in America; having become the only woman to chair the Black Panther Party. For me, her autobiography is a fascinating story of survival and resilience in a highly racialized and patriarchal world.”

“Assata: A Biography” by Assata Shakur

“This is a fascinating story of a Black nationalist, long a target of the FBI’s campaign to defame, infiltrate and criminalize Black nationalist organizations. Her autobiography is a reminder of the impact of white racism on a sensitive and powerful Black woman. Like Elaine Brown’s autobiography, Assata is a charge for me to remain in the struggle to the end.”

“The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodson

“Carter G. Woodson’s groundbreaking work helped me understand that while getting an education is important, the “kind” of education that I get is even more important. If I have not learned to do for myself and have to depend on others, I will never obtain any more rights and privileges in the end than I had in the beginning.”

“The Cross and the Lynching Tree” by James H. Cone

“James Cone’s text helped me understand the paragon and paradox of Black Christian faith. On one hand, it has served as the shining example of liberation and on the other, the greatest example of oppression. This book shed a light on the mysterious bond suffering and love.”

Sophia Sambrano is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @sambsoph.