It’s Black History Month! As part of our celebrations this October, we are asking our members to share their Black History Month recommendations.
The Black History Month picks recommended by our members are a great way to learn more about the Black experience, identity and culture. You can pick up a new book, discover a new author or performer, or try something new.
We are looking for members who would like to recommend books, movies, TV shows or music that they think our readers should read, watch or listen to. Please share your recommendations with us, as we would love to hear what you’re reading this Black History Month.
A huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share their recommendations. We have got some great suggestions so far, and we will be publishing them over the next few weeks.
As recommended by: Oriana Frame, Senior Crown Prosecutor
Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation’ by Anna Malaika Tubbs.
This book amplifies the personal stories of the three women who gave birth to, raised and influenced these three monumental figures in history. The book recognises that these women have been neglected by history and gives them the credit they deserve for shaping and raising the men that they did. An exploration and celebration of Black motherhood that interweaves stories from the previous century to reclaim the importance of these three women in the history and achievements of their sons
I Am Not Your Negro
Based on an unfinished manuscript, James Baldwin’s I Am Not Your Negro has won a BAFTA for best documentary and it could not be more deserving. It is part-autobiography, part examination of American history and racism and the atmosphere of the civil rights movement. James Baldwin is just a phenomenal communicator.
Black and British: A Forgotten History
On BBC iPlayer is presented by David Olusoga. It traces Black British history and Black Brits from the Roman occupation through to the present day. The show challenges the idea that Black history is separate from British history. I’m a massive fan of David Olusoga as a presenter and historian and this is a really interesting, powerful piece of television.
Escape: The Underground Railroad Podcast
In suggesting this podcast, and my other recommendations, I am mindful of the importance of ensuring that Black History is not focussed purely on racism and Black trauma, as it has been historically reduced to within curriculums. But this podcast is about reclaiming the narratives of enslaved people and expanding their histories by telling the stories of Black strength, ingenuity, revolution, escape and resistance in the face of abuse and oppression.
You’re Dead to Me
Hosted by Greg Jenner, You’re Dead to Me is a very accessible comedy-history podcast, which pairs top academics with comedians to discuss a range of fascinating topics. I’ve loved this podcast since it’s the first episode. It’s aimed at addressing some of the myths and misconceptions in the way well-known topics have previously been taught, as well as shedding light on subjects and historic figures who have been ignored in mainstream history teachings. I particularly like that it looks beyond simply British or American history. Episodes about Josephine Baker, the Harlem Renaissance, the Ashante Empire, the Haitian Revolution, and Harriet Tubman are just a few examples. Easy, stimulating, listening-brilliant for squeezing into your day (maybe listening to while driving or making dinner?).
See and Experience
Manchester Art Gallery
Free to visit. I visited this gallery for the first time in July of this year, and I’ve already been back this September. It’s one of my favourite galleries in the North. Each gallery has a feminist re-interpretation of the space, which challenges the colonialist and white patriarchal themes seen in some of the works, and historic curation. One of the prized artworks on display is the painting of the 19th-century actor, Ira Aldridge, painted by James Northcote, which was actually the first artwork that the Gallery purchased in 1827.