1. To celebrate Black History Month we have created this reading list. It's full of classics, modern classics and factual works by black authors or about black history. 

    We've also added in some interesting video accompaniments to the list, which you can view on Box of Broadcasts, which is available free of charge for all current University of Essex staff and students 

    Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is an on demand TV and radio service for education. With BoB you can:

    • access millions of recorded broadcasts dating back to the 1990s
    • record programmes from over 65 free-to-air channels
    • create clips, playlists and citations
    • embed content in VLEs and share on social media
    • search programme transcripts and subtitles

    Find out how to access it here.

  2. Official Black History Month 2017 - 30 Years of Black History Month

    Website  For more information about Black History Month 2017, check out the official website.

  3. Black history month playlist

    Audio-visual document  We've collected together a few of the best television and radio shows and films for you all in one place on this BoB playlist.

  4. Black History Month Book Group 13 items
    1. We'll be running a book group event on Tuesday 24th October 2017, discussing a book chosen by you: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


      Book your tickets for this event now! 


      We'd love it if you could join us, so here's the information about where to find the book in the library.

      If you would prefer (or as well as reading the book!), you can watch the 2013 film adaptation online for free with Box of Broadcasts. 

      We'll be discussing both the book and the film at the group. 

    2. Page   The film Half of a Yellow Sun was effectively banned for a period of time in Nigeria as the censorship board delayed certification. It has been claimed this was due to the sympathetic portrayal of the Biafran separatist cause and the possibility of in... click to read more
    3. Half of a yellow sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2007

      Book  With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.

    4. Half of a Yellow Sun (2013) Sunday, 14 May 2017

      Audio-visual document  Watch the 2013 film adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun for free on Box of Broadcasts

    5. Other works by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 4 items
      Enjoyed Half of a Yellow Sun? Check out what else she's written
      1. Purple hibiscus: a novel - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2005, c2004

        Book  This extraordinary debut novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is about the blurred lines between the old gods and the new, childhood and adulthood, love and hatred – the grey spaces in which truths are revealed and real life is lived.

      2. The thing around your neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2009

        Book  A collection of short stories.

      3. Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2017

        Book  Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

      4. We should all be feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2014

        Book  Adapted from her TEDx talk (see link in the section below) We Should All Be Feminists includes anecdotes and analyses about what it means to be a feminist. She argues that "feminist" isn't an insult, but rather a label that should be embraced by all.

    6. More about the author 4 items
      Here are a few more resources to watch or listen to to hear more about and from the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
      1. World Book Club Sunday, 15 May 2016

        Audio-visual document  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about her novel set during the 1960s Biafran War in Nigeria. With Harriett Gilbert. From June 2009

      2. HARDtalk Thursday, 5 Jun 2014

        Audio-visual document  HARDtalk speaks to the highly acclaimed Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her fiction explores her country's troubled past and current challenges. How does this writer see Nigeria's story unfolding?

      3. We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | TEDxEuston 12/4/2013

        Audio-visual document  In this classic talk that started a worldwide conversation about feminism, Adichie asks that we begin to dream about and plan for a different, fairer world -- of happier men and women who are truer to themselves.

      4. Woman’s Hour Wednesday, 19 Oct 2016

        Audio-visual document  Interview with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

    1. The sellout - Paul Beatty 2016

      Book  A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game.

    2. HARDtalk Thursday, 15 Dec 2016

      Audio-visual document  Stephen Sackur talks to author Paul Beatty, whose Booker Prize-winning novel Sellout deploys biting satire to unpick the black American experience. After eight years of a black president, amid a swirl of demographic and social change, black Americans still feel the bite of discrimination and prejudice. How best to respond?

    3. The woman next door - Yewande Omotoso 2016

      Book  Hortensia and Marion are next door neighbours in a charming, bougainvillea-laden Cape Town suburb. One day an unforeseen event forces the women together. Could long-held mutual loathing transform into friendship?

    4. Black and British: a forgotten history - David Olusoga 2016

      Book  In this vital re-examination of a shared history, award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean.

    5. Black and British: A Forgotten History Tuesday, 22 Nov 2016

      Audio-visual document  Watch the accompanying television series on Box of Broadcasts

    1. Six stories and an essay - Andrea Levy 2014

      Book  Andrea Levy draws together a remarkable collection of short stories from across her writing career.

    2. A way of being free - Ben Okri 1997


    3. Bulletproof diva: tales of race, sex, and hair - Lisa Jones 1995

      Book  Chock full of the "fierce black girl humor" that has made her column so popular, this provocative collection of essays and observations on race, sex, identity, and the politics of style speaks to a young generation of blacks who were raised in an integrated society and are now waiting for America to deliver on its promises of equality.

    4. Living, loving and lying awake at night - Sindiwe Magona 1992


    5. You can't keep a good woman down - Alice Walker 1982


  7. POETRY 7 items
    1. For colored girls who have considered suicide, when the rainbow is enuf: a choreopoem - Ntozake Shange c1977

      Book  From its inception in California in 1974 to its highly acclaimed critical success at Joseph Papp's Public Theater and on Broadway, the Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf has excited, inspired, and transformed audiences all over the country.

    2. The collected poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 - Lucille Clifton, Toni Morrison, Kevin Young, ebrary, Inc 2012

      Book  The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 combines all eleven of Lucille Clifton's published collections with more than fifty previously unpublished poems.

    3. Collected poems, 1948-1984 - Derek Walcott 1992

      Book  This remarkable collection, which won the 1986 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, includes most of the poems from each of Derek Walcott's seven prior books of verse and all of his long autobiographical poem, "Another Life."

    4. I is a long memoried woman - Grace Nichols 1990

      Book  Rightly proclaimed a significant narrative of the African Caribbean woman in proclaiming the recovery of her memory, the book celebrates and evokes memories of the triangular trade in enslavement from the African continent to the cane plantations of the Caribbean through the voice of an unnamed African woman.

    5. The collected poems of Langston Hughes - Langston Hughes 1995


    6. Faster than light: new and selected poems, 1996-2011 - Marilyn Nelson, ebrary, Inc 2012

      Book  Conjuring numerous voices and characters across oceans and centuries, Faster Than Light explores widely disparate experiences through the lens of traditional poetic forms. This volume contains a selection of Marilyn Nelson's new and uncollected poems as well as work from each of her lyric histories of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century African American individuals and communities.

  8. NON-FICTION BOOKS 16 items
    1. Harriet Tubman: the road to freedom - Catherine Clinton c2004

      Book  Celebrated for her courageous exploits as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman has entered history as one of nineteenth-century America's most enduring and important figures. But just who was this remarkable woman?

    2. Dreams from my father: a story of race and inheritance - Barack Obama 2007

      Book  Obama, the son of a white American mother and a black African father, writes an elegant and compelling biography that powerfully articulates America's racial battleground and tells of his search for his place in black America.

    3. By the People: The Election of Barack Obama Saturday, 9 Jan 2010

      Audio-visual document  Find out more about Barack Obama's journey to the White House with this documentary on Box of Broadcasts

    4. Black boy: a record of childhood and youth - Richard Wright, Herman Finkelstein Collection (Library of Congress) 1945

      Book  At four years of age, Richard Wright set fire to his home; at five his father deserted the family; by six Richard was - ­ temporarily - an alcoholic. Moved from home to home, from brick tenement to orphanage, he had had, by the age of twelve, only one year's formal education. It was in saloons, railroad yards and streets that he learned the facts about life under white subjection, about fear, hunger and hatred. Gradually he learned to play Jim Crow in order to survive in a world of white hostility, secretly satisfying his craving for books and knowledge until the time came when he could follow his dream of justice and opportunity in the north.

    5. The autobiography of Malcolm X - Malcolm X, Alex Haley 2001, c1965

      Book  They called him the 'angriest black man in America'. Celebrated and vilified the world over for his courageous but bitter fight to gain for millions of black men and women the equality and respect denied them by their white neighbours, Malcolm X inspired as many people in the United States as he caused to fear him.

    6. The new Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness - Michelle Alexander 2010

      Book  In a bold and innovative argument, a rising legal star shows readers how the mass incarceration of a disproportionate number of black men amounts to a devastating system of racial control.

    7. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave - Frederick Douglass, Houston A. Baker 1982

      Book  Frederick Douglass’s celebrated memoir is among the most influential works of the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement in the United States.

    8. Long walk to freedom: the autobiography of Nelson Mandela - Nelson Mandela 2002

      Book  The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, A Long Walk to Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela's destiny.

    9. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) Saturday, 12 Nov 2016

      Audio-visual document  Biopic based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography.

    10. I know why the caged bird sings - Maya Angelou 1984, c1969

      Book  Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

    11. Singin' and swingin' and gettin' merry like Christmas - Maya Angelou 1985, c1976


    12. Between the world and me - Ta-Nehisi Coates 2015

      Book  Coates shares with his son - and readers - the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children's lives have been taken as American plunder.

    13. My life with Martin Luther King, Jr - Coretta Scott King 1970

      Book  This personal, inspirational account of the history of the Civil Rights Movement describes the author's relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr., detailing their marriage, the events of the 1960s, and King's tragic assassination.

    14. Our kind of people: inside America's Black upper class - Lawrence Graham c1999

      Book  This is the world of the black upper class and the focus of the first book written about the black elite by a member of this hard-to-penetrate group.

    15. Zora Neale Hurston: a literary biography - Robert E. Hemenway c1977

      Book  Reconstructs the events, relationships, and achievements that marked the life of the black novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist, assessing her important works and commitment to the black folk tradition.

    16. A month and a day: a detention diary - Ken Saro-Wiwa, William Boyd 1995


  9. FICTION 24 items
    1. Native son - Richard Wright 1995

      Book  Native Son tells the story of a young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.

    2. The color purple - Alice Walker 1983, reprinted 1984

      Book  Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.

    3. The color purple - Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Adolph Caesar 1985 (videorecording)

      Audio-visual document 

    4. Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth Tuesday, 9 Jul 2013

      Audio-visual document  Find out more about the author of The Color Purple with this documentary on Box of Broadcasts: Featuring interviews with Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones, this is a penetrating insight into the life and work of an artist, a self-confessed renegade and passionate human rights activist.

    5. Their eyes were watching God: a novel - Zora Neale Hurston, Holly Eley, Sherley Anne Williams 1986


    6. Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo - Ntozake Shange 1989


    7. Invisible man - Ralph Ellison 1965

      Book  As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying "battle royal" where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison's nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

    8. The bluest eye - Toni Morrison 1999

      Book  Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America.

    9. Roots - Alex Haley, Sam Sloan 2015

      Book  Tracing his ancestry through six generations – slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lawyers and architects – back to Africa, Alex Haley discovered a sixteen-year-old youth, Kunta Kinte. It was this young man, who had been torn from his homeland and in torment and anguish brought to the slave markets of the New World, who held the key to Haley's deep and distant past.

    10. Roots (2016) Wednesday, 8 Feb 2017

      Audio-visual document  Remake of the iconic television series based on Haley's book.

    11. Sula - Toni Morrison 1982, c1973

      Book  Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret.

    12. Things fall apart - Chinua Achebe 1976

      Book  Okonowo is the greatest warrior alive. His fame has spread like a bushfire in West Africa and he is one of the most powerful men of his clan. But he also has a fiery temper. Determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show weakness to anyone - even if the only way he can master his feelings is with his fists. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, Okonowo takes violent action. Will the great man's dangerous pride eventually destroy him?

    13. Small island - Andrea Levy 2015

      Book  Told in four voices, Small Island is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers---in short, an encapsulation of the immigrant's life.

    14. Small Island Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010

      Audio-visual document  Watch the TV adaptation of Small Island on Box of Broadcasts

    15. The long song - Andrea Levy 2010

      Book  Set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed.

    16. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys 1966

      Book  Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. But soon after their marriage, rumors of madness in her family poison his mind against her. He forces Antoinette to conform to his rigid Victorian ideals.

    17. Wide Sargasso Sea (1993) Thursday, 6 Oct 2011

      Audio-visual document  Watch this on Box of Broadcasts: Dramatisation of Jean Rhys’s novel set in 19th-century Jamaica. The tragic story of the first Mrs Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre centres on an arranged marriage between a white Creole heiress and a brooding Englishman, who fall in love only to be torn apart by rumours, paranoia and a cultural divide

    18. How the García girls lost their accents - Julia Alvarez 1992

      Book  Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind. What they have lost - and what they find - is revealed in the fifteen interconnected stories that make up this exquisite novel from one of the premier novelists of our time.

    19. Black Shack Alley =: La rue Cases-Nègres - Joseph Zobel c1980

      Book  This work tells the story of growing up black in the colonial world of Martinique. Not only does the young hero, José, have to fight the ignorance and poverty of plantation life, but he must also learn to survive the all-pervasive French cultural saturation--to remain true to himself, proud of his race and his family.

    20. The lonely Londoners - Samuel Selvon 1972

      Book  In the hopeful aftermath of war they flocked to the Mother Country—West Indians in search of a prosperous future in the 'glitter-city'. Instead, they have to face the harsh realities of living hand to mouth, of racism, of bone-chilling weather and bleak prospects. Yet friendships flourish among these Lonely Londoners and, in time, they learn to survive.

    21. Kindred - Octavia E. Butler 2014

      Book  The longer Dana spends in 19th century Maryland - a very dangerous place for a black woman - the more aware she is that her life might be over before it's even begun.

    22. NW - Zadie Smith 2013

      Book  Zadie Smith's brilliant tragi-comic NW follows four Londoners. A portrait of modern urban life, NW is funny, sad and urgent - as brimming with vitality as the city itself.

    23. NW Monday, 14 Nov 2016

      Audio-visual document  Watch the BBC adaptation of NW for free on Box of Broadcasts

    24. Drama: Red Velvet Saturday, 8 Aug 2015

      Audio-visual document  By Lolita Chakrabarti. Radio version of the Tricycle Theatre's award-winning production about the first black actor to play Othello. Imagined experiences based on the true story of Ira Aldridge.

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