In light of recent events (plus Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming up) this seemed like a good book to read. I have not watched the PBS show (this book is the companion) but this is not hard to follow. It's a beautiful book that highlights some important events in African American history. It's told in chronological order (as it says on the cover) with major dates and the important events on that day (sometimes longer depending on what happened). Each event gets at least a paragraph with some events getting longer explanations.
There are many pictures of people, events, art, etc. It's an easy to follow book but highly informative as well. Many events are probably at least very basic knowledge but there's definitely a lot in here that doesn't get covered well (at all in some cases) in the media, school, etc. However it's not just major historical/political events but popular culture including acting, music, sports, etc.
I can understand some of the criticisms: it's a focus on events and names you "know" like MLK or Maya Angelou or Barack Obama or Beyoncé, etc. There are tons of names, people, groups, organizations, etc. that don't get mentioned much (or at all) and that's an understandable dislike. However, since this is a companion piece to the PBS project it doesn't surprise me that it highlights certain information to be as accessible as possible to the audience. I learned quite a bit and will say it makes me sad how much of this was completely missing from my own formal education when I was younger.
That said, it's a great book. I may feel differently if I had seen the show on TV (as in, I might have I was duplicating my media consumption) but I'm glad I found a way to access this work as the DVD version is not available at my library OR at Netflix (yet). I thought it's definitely worth reading and might make a fantastic addition to a classroom/school library, especially if it is used in conjunction with showing its video counterpart.