Explore Black History

The history of Black people worldwide has too often been cloaked in secrecy, shrouded in untruths, and rooted in oppression. However, as the saying goes: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. So no matter how uncomfortable, Black History must be explored to create a better future for the Black race. Reading books about history written by Black authors can help add crucial and often missing context to our world, as well as help contextualize systemic racism for those privileged enough not to experience its impact firsthand. Routledge has collated a list of suggested reads that we think you'll love and will enlighten, enrich, and educate you on the history of black people.

Discover Brilliant Books Written By Black Authors

Black Power Music book cover

Black Power Music: Protest Songs, Message Music, and the Black Power Movement. Research studies have shown that music enhances physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It can help regulate our mood, boost emotions, improve productivity and concentration, and even help us sleep better. In times of adversity, music cocoons us from the world's harsh realities and allows us to recreate new, prosperous realities. Music is innate within humans and offers us the power to envision, escape, become, wonder, and exist.

If there had ever been a time in Black History that needed the power of music, it was the Black Power Movement. At that time, much of the classic Motown, soul, and funk music communicated the views, values, aspirations, and frustrations of the Black Power Movement in a way that spoke to all.

Black Power Music: Protest Songs, Message Music, and the Black Power Movement explores the soundtracks of the Black Power Movement as forms of "movement music." And dissects the intense interconnections between Black popular culture and Black political culture, both before and after the Black Power Movement, and the ways in which the Black Power Movement, in many senses, symbolizes the culmination of centuries of African American politics creatively combined with, and ingeniously conveyed through, African American music.

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he Routledge Companion to Black Women’s Cultural Histories - Book Cover

The Routledge Companion to Black Women's Cultural Histories (Choice OAT Winner). An unscrupulous trend that isn't discussed enough is the ongoing and unfair practice of taking work, ideas, and creative genius from Black women without adequately crediting them. Although sadly, this is not a new practice, many black women have, throughout history, felt ignored and overlooked. The media, music and art often depict black women in demeaning and unfair ways. As a result, black women's roles in making history are repeatedly denied, and black women are left in the shadows of their lighter-skinned counterparts, who are given credit for their accomplishments.

The Routledge Companion to Black Women's Cultural Histories uncovers the erasure of black women's historical contributions. This impressive and comprehensive reference work for contemporary scholarship on the cultural histories of Black women across the diaspora spanning different eras from ancient times into the twenty-first century. Comprising over 30 chapters by a team of international contributors, the Companion is divided into five parts.

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Invisible Voices - Book Cover

Invisible Voices: The Black Presence in Crime and Punishment in the UK, 1750–1900. Silencing is an insidious way of suppressing and preventing the expression of truth. Unfortunately, black people have often been silenced, unheard, and left feeling invisible. Throughout history, the many injustices inflicted upon black men in the areas of crime and punishment have been staggering. Far too many black men have been wrongfully accused, imprisoned, or killed for crimes they did not commit.

Invisible Voices: The Black Presence in Crime and Punishment in the U.K., 1750–1900 revises current thinking around excluded, marginalized, and muted histories when looking at 'crime and punishment' as a whole.

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Why the Police should be trained by Black people - Book Cover

Why the Police Should be Trained by Black People. Geroge Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and, most recently, Tyre Nichols are just a few of the hundreds of black victims whose lives were taken too soon at the hands of the police. The police are supposed to serve and protect, yet for many black people, especially in the United States, the police symbolize terror and injustice. After the abolishment of slavery, black people in America continued to be marginalized, ostracized, attacked, and ignored. In many instances, the police were the aggressors of this treatment, and the institutional racism that permeates the police force has created a culture that needs massive reform.

Why the Police Should be Trained by Black People aligns scholarly and community efforts to address how Black people are policed. It combines traditional models commonly taught in policing courses with new approaches to teaching and training about law enforcement in the U.S., all from the Black lens. Black law enforcement professionals (seasoned and retired), scholars, community members, victims, and others make up the contributors to this training textbook written from the lens of the Black experience. Each chapter describes policing based on the experience of being Black in the U.S., with concern about the life and life chances for Black people.

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Red, green, yellow and brown silhouettes of people with African heritage for Black History Month

Black History Month

Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements and accolades of African Americans throughout history. Every U.S. President since 1976 has declared February as Black History Month. Other countries worldwide also dedicate a month to celebrate black history, including Canada, and the United Kingdom, which has chosen to tribute the month of October to black history. Black History Month is a month to honor and remember the triumphs and tribulations of African Americans and their central role in all areas of life throughout history.

Find out more about Black History Month in the United States and the United Kingdom

Black Authors For Black History Month

We spoke with S.R. Toliver, author, researcher and assistant professor of Literacy and Secondary Humanities, about the importance of Black representation in literature. Learn how her experiences as a young reader helped shape her passion for writing and discover why she believes speculative fiction can offer the bit of hope new generations of Black readers need and deserve.

Read the full blog here.

When we talk about celebrating British black history, we immediately think of the important figures we know about from the past and present, from Mary Seacole and Frederick Douglass to Lewis Hamilton. Or we look to the cultural recognitions made, with popular events like Notting Hill Carnival now a central part of British tradition. Often the 'starting point' of black British history is considered the arrival of the Windrush generation in 1948 but of course, black people have been present for hundreds of years in British history.

We talk to British author, theater director, cultural activist, and criminologist Martin Glynn about his experiences. From being a mixed raced child in a white family and community and his work with black offenders in prisons, to the impact our mis-told history still has on us all today: "The famous Marcus Garvey said 'an individual without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots'. Well, Black Britons have no knowledge of the history that oppressed them really because they didn't write it. Because they were oppressed."

The Importance of Black Stories in Publishing

"More people like me need to write," says Martin. "For me, the politics of this is not just to represent diversity in terms of your published one or two black people. But in the way, it understands diverse narratives and the way they're presented. But you know what I realize is, many black people never get a legacy - all the people in my book died before they could bring their legacy through." 

Read the full blog here.