There are some books you have known about for most of your life. However, you will finally read that book when it has determined you are ready for it. This is the case for Before The Mayflower by Lerone Bennett Jr.
I have known about this book for over thirty years but had never decided to read it until now. Bennett covers the black experience in America from when the first slaves arrived in 1619 to Virginia until the Clinton presidency. My version is the 6th edition and I could tell that Bennett added more information in each edition since the book was first published in 1962.
Bennett laid out the American black experience in full detail and it took me awhile to get through this book. I had to read it in 20-30 page chunks just to absorb all the information provided. This book revealed to me that the black experience in America is multi-dimensional and complex. I had preconceived notions about what I was going to read in the book. I was completely wrong and learned how much black people contributed to our country despite our predicament under the shackles of racism.
Before The Mayflower should be taught in all high schools and colleges throughout America. It is a great and basic primer to understanding a history that does not get shared in popular culture.