As APLU celebrates Black History Month, we asked APLU staff to share books, podcasts, and movies celebrating Black history and culture. Learn more about some of these books, podcasts, and movies below.
Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935
If you enjoyed the mini-history lesson Dean James Anderson gave during the APLU Black History Month webinar, you’ll enjoy reading his book on the history of the education of Blacks in the South. It’s a fascinating and detailed examination of the struggle for education and the building of the foundation that we see today in the land-grant HBCUs.
Hear to Slay
I am absolutely obsessed with Luminary Podcast’s original program “Hear to Slay” hosted by the writer Roxanne Gay and MacArthur “Genius” Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom. Billed as “the Black feminist podcast of your dreams”, Gay and Cottom discuss topics like art and politics, while still managing to be hilarious and down-to-earth.
I Am Not Your Negro
This book by James Baldwin is both a great read and watch in that exposes and examines the American tragedy that is racism.
The Cross of Redemption
This book by James Baldwin is a powerful compilation of his essays, articles, and more also exploring colonialism and its effects on the African American community.
The Color Purple
The Color Purple by Alice Walker is an amazing view into the lives of Black women breaking the stigmas and stereotypes of femininity, abuse, and poverty in the 20th century south.
Judas and the Black Messiah
The movie depicts the life of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party. It’s a really great narrative that humanizes the party and portrays the movement in a different light.
This podcast by Brandon Kyle Goodman allows for different Black folxs of all identities and backgrounds to share their Blackness and their individualized experience of how it has impacted their lives. I like this podcast because it uses causal conversations to highlight the diversity within Black culture/community.
Just Mercy follows Bryan Stevenson as he heads to Alabama after graduating from Harvard Law School to defend those wrongfully condemned or those not afforded proper legal representation. Though the book contains profiles of many different people, the central storyline is that of the relationship between Stevenson, the organization he founded and Walter McMillan, a black man sitting on death row for a murder conviction despite an overwhelming amount of contradictory evidence.
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
When I moved to Washington, DC in 2018, I went into a local bookstore and asked the clerk if there were any recent biographies she would recommend and, without hesitation, she responded this one about Frederick Douglass. While quite lengthy at almost 800 pages, it is the most complete biography written about a man who without a doubt was one of the most important Americans of the nineteenth century and a powerful writer and lecturer. Quote from Douglass “There is a prophet within us, forever whispering that behind the seen lies the immeasurable unsee.”
How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin
“How Long ’til Black Future Month?” is a collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories that acts as an excellent introduction to the writing of N.K. Jemisin. These stories range from her well-known fantastical world-building to speculative histories, and they are sure to linger with you. One of my favorites from the collection is “Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters”, about a young man and his elderly neighbor trying to survive in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“wow, no thank you.” by Samantha Irby
In times like these, we can all benefit a little more comedy. Irby delivers in this collection of essays about aging, marriage, and settling down with step-children in white, small-town Michigan. With her incredibly dry and self-deprecating style, Irby can bring a big laugh and help remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.