Take a page and educate yourself on Black literature and film


Sara Marquez

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, many have found themselves reading and watching some of these works to educate themselves.

Daniela Rangel

Following months of Black Lives Matter protests, independent and Black-owned bookstores saw a spike in demand for black revolutionary texts. Here are some books and movies to read and watch to become more informed and involved.

Political activist, author and professor Angela Davis’s “Women, Race and Class” explores the U.S. women’s liberation movement and the role of race and economic standing in the movement. Her ideas and research highlight years-long systems of exploitation, oppression and systemic racism that disproportionately disadvantage Black women.

Angela Davis’s “Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement” is a collection of essays, interviews and speeches that cover the Black Lives Matter movement, prison abolition and more.  In the book, Davis connects present-day state violence and oppression with the historical struggles of people around the world.

Author Angie Thomas follows the story of Starr Carter, a young Black student at a primarily white private school whose childhood friend is shot without reason by a policeman in her 2017 novel “The Hate U Give.” Driven by the killing of Oscar Grant, Thomas wrote the impactful novel to communicate messages of police brutality and harmful racist ideology in America. The novel was adapted into a film by the same title in 2018.

Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” details the prejudiced criminal justice systems of America that have led to the mass incarceration of primarily Black men. In the book, Alexander dismisses the false notion that racism in the U.S. stopped when Barack Obama was elected as the first Black president. 

Inspirational lawyer Bryan Stevenson calls for an end to mass incineration in his book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.” In the book, Stevenson follows the story of EJI, the Equal Justice Initiative he started to defend the underprivileged people often targeted by the criminal justice system. The book has since been adapted into a film, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, available to stream on HBO Max

American writer and poet Richard Wright conveyed messages of racial inequality through his works. In “Native Son” he tells the story of Bigger Thomas, a poor young Black man living in Chicago’s South Side, to display the psychological effects of racism on black youth. The book is one of many included on the Black Panther Party Reading List

Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel “Beloved” describes the race relations between emancipated slaves and whites in the northern United States. Throughout the Pulitzer Prize-winning Southern gothic, Morrison seeks to investigate topics including chattel slavery, racism, fratricide and sexual assault.

Throughout her life, Black novelist Toni Morrison wrote powerful and critically acclaimed novels on the Black experience in America like “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Song of Solomon.” Her story is told in the 2019 documentary of her life, “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” available on Hulu

Director Ava Duvernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” investigates systemic racism in America beyond the abolition of slavery except as a punishment for a crime. In the 2016 documentary streaming on Netflix, interviews with political activists and writers uncover the exploitation of the heavily incarcerated Black Population of the U.S.

The film adaptation of Alice Walker’s powerful 1982 novel “The Color Purple,” which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, follows the 20-year story of Celie, a Black woman living in the south. The novel and the film it inspired view her struggles with years of abuse, racism and sexuality. “The Color Purple” was revolutionary in its complex and meaningful depiction of a Black woman protagonist and is available for streaming on Hulu

Legendary director Spike Lee tells the story of Black political activist and Muslim minister Malcolm X in the 1992 film about his life titled “Malcolm X.” The film received multiple nominations and awards for its depiction of the revolutionary activist’s life and legacy. James Baldwin’s 1974 novel “If Beale Street Could Talk” received a critically acclaimed film adaptation in 2018. The novel and film follow the story of a young couple torn apart by the false accusation and imprisonment of the protagonist, Tish’s, fiance Alonzo Hunt, or Fonny. Director Barry Jenkins captures the story beautifully in the film now streaming on Hulu.