One of the more regrettable aspects of the continuing obsession with the Black Confederate Myth is that we risk overlooking how African Americans helped win the war for the Union … and in the process secured their freedom. Rather than struggle over the question, “Who freed the slaves?”, we might well want to discuss how African Americans, free and enslaved, contributed to Union victory. After all, that’s a far better documented story; it assumes that blacks exercised agency in helping to shape the course of events in various ways, including but not limited to military service as soldiers. One can do this, after all, and also tell the story of the struggle blacks faced in their efforts to combat racism and secure equal rights and equal treatment from white northerners, a way to acknowledge that racism was national, not regional.
To start that discussion, I ask you what five books you would suggest someone wanting to know more about this story ought to read first.