Recommended reading: Black History Month

By Lucy Fisher

Title: More than a month (DVD)

Writer, director, producer: Shukree Hassan Tilghman

Summary: Shukree Hassan Tilghman, a young African-American filmmaker, sets out on a cross-country campaign to end Black History Month. He explains that relegating Black History Month to the coldest, shortest month of the year is an insult, and black history is not separate from American history. Through this thoughtful and humorous journey, he explores what the treatment of history tells us about race and equality in a 'post-racial' America.

Title: Waiting ‘til the Midnight Hour : a narrative history of Black power in America

Author: Peniel H. Joseph

Summary: With the rallying cry of "Black Power!" in 1966, a group of black activists, including Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton, turned their backs on Martin Luther King's pacifism and, building on Malcolm X's legacy, pioneered a radical new approach to the fight for equality. Drawing on original archival research and more than sixty original oral histories, Peniel E. Joseph vividly invokes the way in which Black Power redefined black identity and culture and in the process redrew the landscape of American race relations.

Title: Life upon these shores : looking at African American history, 1513-2008

Author: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Summary: Informed by the latest, sometimes provocative scholarship and including more than seven hundred images—ancient maps, fine art, documents, photographs, cartoons, posters—Life Upon These Shores focuses on defining events, debates, and controversies, as well as the signal achievements of people famous and obscure. Gates takes us from the sixteenth century through the ordeal of slavery, from the Civil War and Reconstruction through the Jim Crow era and the Great Migration; from the civil rights and black nationalist movements through the age of hip-hop to the Joshua generation.

Title: Blues legacies and black feminism : Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday

Author: Angela Y. Davis

Summary: The works of Rainey, Smith, and Holiday have been largely misunderstood by critics. Overlooked, Davis shows, has been the way their candor and bravado laid the groundwork for an aesthetic that allowed for the celebration of social, moral, and sexual values outside the constraints imposed by middle-class respectability. Through meticulous transcriptions of all the extant lyrics of Rainey and Smith—published here in their entirety for the first time—Davis demonstrates how the roots of the blues extend beyond a musical tradition to serve as a consciousness-raising vehicle for American social memory.

Title: The half has never been told : slavery and the making of American capitalism

Author: Edward E. Baptist

Summary: Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution—the nation's original sin, perhaps, but isolated in time and divorced from America's later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. As historian Edward E. Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States.

Title: The Slave Ship : a human history

Author: Marcus Rediker

Summary: Drawing on thirty years of research in maritime archives, court records, diaries, and firsthand accounts, The Slave Ship is riveting and sobering in its revelations, reconstructing in chilling detail a world nearly lost to history: the "floating dungeons" at the forefront of the birth of African American culture.

Title: Want to start a revolution? : radical women in the Black freedom struggle

Author: edited by Dayo F. Gore, Jeanne Theoharis, and Komozi Woodard

Summary: From Rosa Parks and Esther Cooper Jackson, to Shirley Graham DuBois and Assata Shakur, a host of women demonstrated a lifelong commitment to radical change, embracing multiple roles to sustain the movement, founding numerous groups and mentoring younger activists. Helping to create the groundwork and continuity for the movement by operating as local organizers, international mobilizers, and charismatic leaders, the stories of the women profiled in Want to Start a Revolution? help shatter the pervasive and imbalanced image of women on the sidelines of the black freedom struggle.

- Lucy Fisher, course reserves specialist

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