For over 30 years in the UK, October has marked the moment in which we collectively observe and celebrate Black voices in history. In light of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the globe this year, there is a real sense of urgency to educate oneself. While not an exhaustive list by any means, we've collated some of the best books, documentaries and podcasts that capture the diverse narratives of Black people.
Ishion Hutchinson’s collection of poems is a complex engagement between culture, race and history. They profoundly explore themes of justice, history, fatherhood and the role of politics in a world where lords and commoners must live side by side, capturing the realistic play of vulnerability and sharp strength needed to survive a world ridden with prejudice. “A cloud has eaten your voice and I your dust; / yes, you weigh heavily on me, friend, / who no longer knows the way to die.”
As part of the "1619 Project" from The New York Times, the "1619" podcast begins with the docking of enslaved Africans bought by Americans. An oral history which examines the aftermath of that moment, and the insidious effects on America and society globally. It sets the scene – with powerful imagery created through accounts from former enslaved individuals, music and former presidents – to tell an untold story that has been ripped out of history books.
Black British historian, David Olusogo’s Bafta-winning two-part documentary Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners explores the disproportionately unjust ramifications of slavery. Olusogo presents a thorough and detailed investigation into how the British economy has profited off slavery, how British slave-owners fought for compensation, and evidence of Britain's participation in slavery in 1830 and its entanglement in every aspect of modern society. A deeply fascinating watch that brings the buried history of British Slavery and its lingering effects up to the surface.
It’s equally vital to engage in an education of Black history outside the parameters of slavery. Writer Afua Hirsch’s documentary series, African Renaissance is a compelling exploration of three African countries’ art, music and culture, as shaped by history. The series begins with Ethiopia and the complex tale of the Emperor Hailie Selassie. Hirsch meets with a number of Ethiopian artists – including renowned artist, Eshetu Tiruneh – to discuss how they have responded to their country’s history.
If you prefer your information more bite-sized, look no further than the impressive Black History Instagram account. Already well-established, you’ll find everything from information on historical figures such as John Newington Conna to incredible photography of Black individuals throughout time, and plenty of educational information to take in during your daily scroll.
From the development of a Black presence in the sixteenth century, through to the colonial institutions of slavery and trade unionism, Ron Ramdin's book explores the roots of Britain’s Black working class – a UK minority whose origins have been buried in history.
In Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation, Colin Grant pulls together over a hundred interviews, recordings and memoirs to accurately relay the stories of the individuals who arrived from the West Indies to the UK between the late 1940s and the early 1960s. This is a rare and honest insight into their life experiences and a compelling portrait of figures – such as nurses, bus drivers and teachers – that have been dismissed from history.