Black History Month presents an opportunity for many of us to step outside our comfort zones and explore topics that we might not know a whole lot about. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly looking for ways to expand your knowledge, gain a different perspective, and learn from the experiences of those around us. This article highlights five podcasts, five films, and five books that you can explore this month to learn more about black heritage and the some of the struggles that exist still today in 2021.
- NPR’s Code Switch | Website
NPR’s Code Switch began in 2016 and provides powerful insight and perspective on issues that are still present today. It features a panel of journalists of color who discuss different race and identity issues through a contemporary lens. This podcast series encapsulates a variety of topics from beauty standards and where people of color fit into it, stories passed down through generations, and the effects of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Noire Histoir | Website
If you’re looking for a podcast to reflect on how far history has come but also how much more work there is to do – Noire Histoir is the podcast you’ve been looking for. This podcast includes historical facts and literature of important black figures through the ages.
- The Nod | Website
A thought-providing, informative, and entertaining podcast, The Nod features an intricate mix of historical facts and personal stories that talk about black lives in a way not told anywhere else.
- The Stoop | Website
This series focuses on stories from Black citizens, not just in the U.S and the adversities they face as well as how they overcome them. A combination of journalism and storytelling, this series digs into an array of topics that need to be noted.
- The Humanity Archive | Website
This series, led by Jermain Fowler, studies and discusses figures and historical events of Black America. Some notable episodes covered the assassination of Martin Luther King and the Toussaint L’Ouverture revolution that sparked a trail of others.
- Hidden Figures
The story of three African-American women: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson serving as the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. As you watch you’ll learn of the trials they faced in their working environment and what it was like to be a black woman in their field between the 1930s and 1960s.
- Remember the Titans
This is an action-packed movie based on a true story of the integration of two football teams in Virginia in 1971 and the appointment of the school’s first African-American football coach. The film depicts what it was like for the team to face a community that was unsupportive of this new development and how they became the symbol of unification for their peers.
- 12 Years a Slave
In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south. Subjected to the cruelty of a malevolent owner, he continually struggles to survive and maintain his dignity. During the 12thyear of this disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changes his life forever.
- Judas and the Black Messiah
Available on HBO Max on February 12, 2021, this film depicts an infiltration of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther party and the events that led to the assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton.
- The Jackie Robinson Story
After being a successful baseball player in college and a coach in the military, Jackie Robinson attracts the attention of Major League Baseball’s Branch Rickey. Rickey recruits Robinson to play in the minor leagues hoping he can break the color barrier and make his way into the major leagues. While working towards this goal, Robinson found he was unable to defend himself from racial bigotry.
- Ida B. The Queen
The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells: Tells the story of a pioneering woman who was often overlooked and underestimated – a woman who refused to exit a train car meant for white passengers. Ida B., a woman who cofounded the NAACP, and was seen as dangerous by the FBI for trying to help those who did not have power. She uncovered the horrors of lynching in America and became a transformational leader.
- Finish the Fight
The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote: This book highlights the women of color and their biographies of their part in forming the movement for women’s right to vote.
- The New Jim Crow
A crucial read, this book covers how the communities of color in the U.S. suffer through mass incarceration, fueling social movements protesting this wrongdoing.
- The Black Jacobins
This book written by C.L.R. James is an account of the most successful slave rebellion, the Haitian Revolution and how this revolution sparked others, in the U.S., Africa, and Cuba. The book follows Toussaint L’Ouverture who paved the way for Haiti to become the first independent nation in the Caribbean.
- The Dawn of Detroit
A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits: This award-winning book by Tiya Miles reveals the slavery of both native and African African Americans was at the heart of the founding of Detroit. A complicating story of the “free” north territory and the experience of the unfree in the frontier outpost of Colonial Detroit.