Beloved African American Novelist Ernest J. Gaines dies at 86

Author Earnest J. Gaines passed away on Tuesday, November 6th at his home in Louisiana. He was the author of many novels, the most famous being The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. He won the National Book Critics Award in 1993 for his novel A Lesson Before Dying.

Gaines’ work portrays the struggles and experiences of African Americans in the United States from slavery-times to the civil rights era. Gaines received many awards “including a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was named a MacArthur Fellow — the coveted ‘genius grant’– in 1993. President Bill Clinton awarded Gaines the National Humanities Medal in 2000. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts” reports NPR. Ernest J. Gaines work is available for download on BARD.


A Louisiana ex-slave recounts her life from the end of the Civil War to the mid-twentieth-century civil rights movement. Also includes a speech by Sojourner Truth, a short story by Pearl S. Buck, and related memoirs, poems, and essays. Some strong language. 1971.


When a black man kills and shoots a Cajun farmer in rural Louisiana, a young white woman rallies the other black men in the area to his defense. The “gathering of old men” face the local sheriff–each with an identical shotgun, each claiming to be guilty. Meanwhile, across town the youngest brother of the murdered man argues with his father against organizing a lynch mob to take revenge against the old men. Some strong language. For junior and senior high and older readers.

IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE                 DB 12116

In a small, rural, black community in the deep South, a confrontation occurs between the Reverend Phillip Martin, an important civil rights leader, and a callow, young, unkempt stranger, who brutally exposes the minister’s buried past. Some strong language.

A LESSON BEFORE DYING              DB 36694

Bayonne, Louisiana, 1948. A young, naive black man has been sentenced to death for the murder of a white man–a murder that he did not commit. His attorney argues that he is too stupid to plan a crime. “Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair…” Galled by this defense, Jefferson’s godmother, Miss Emma, turns to Grant, the plantation schoolteacher, to teach Jefferson to die like a man. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.


Brady Sims pulls out a gun in a courtroom and shoots his own son, who has just been convicted of robbery and murder. A cub reporter learns that Sims had been tasked with keeping the black children of Bayonne, Louisiana, in line to protect them from the unjust world. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2017.