Book cover for Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

Ten Books to Read this Black History Month

WHAT IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH & WHY DO WE CELEBRATE IT?

In the United Kingdom, Black History Month is celebrated annually each October to recognise the contributions, history and achievements of black people in the United Kingdom over generations. Although Black people have been present in the UK for centuries, there is a lack of representation of Black people in the history books and the school curriculum. People and organisations like The Black Curriculum use Black history month as a further opportunity to advocate for changing the curriculum to be more inclusive and to address the lack of Black British history that is taught in schools all year round.

HOW TO CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH

First celebrated in the United States, Black History Month made its way to the United Kingdom in the 1980s. People celebrate throughout the month of October in a variety of ways. People take the time to learn about the important and influential black figures from history, as well as key points of Black history. Some people also use it as an opportunity to take time to do more research into their own personal backgrounds and heritage. Apart from the historical aspect, events and celebrations are also organised across the UK to celebrate Afro-Caribbean culture - including food markets, lectures and exhibitions.

BOOKS TO READ DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH

A key way to learn about Black history and Black culture is through reading a range of books that cover Black British history throughout time. These books can be read individually to do your own research, but also could be part of a book club or as a catalyst to start discussions in a classroom. I’ve put together a list of great books, some of them that I have read, and others that are on my reading list!

Image of Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

by David Olusoga

An exploration of the relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Exlploring histories including Roman and Medieval Britain.

Image of Black Britain by Paul Gilroy

Black Britain
by Paul Gilroy

A collection of images providing a visual history of the social life of black people in Britain.

Image of Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch

by Afua Hirsch

Afua Hirsch reveals the truth about race and identity in Britain today. An exploration of how the nation came to deny its imperial past as well as a call for change.

Image of Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala

by Akala

Akala uses his own experiences to have a closer look at the social, historical and political factors that have contributed to British life today.

Image of Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff

A book exploring the reality of the experiences of the Windrush generation and those of their children and grandchildren.

Image of Black and British: A Short Essential History by David Olusoga

by David Olusoga

An introduction to black British history for children aged 12 and above, illustrated with maps, photos and portraits.

Image of Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored by Jeffrey Boakye

by Jeffrey Boakye

Investigates the ways Black communities (and individuals) have been represented, insulted or othered through a list of different words and terms used in relation to black people.

Image of Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain by Peter Fryer

by Peter Fryer

First published in 1984, Staying Power offers an extensive look into the history of black Britons. Revealing how their stories have been erased from British history.

Image of Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War by Stephen Bourne

by Stephen Bourne

A book exploring the experience of black Britons in the wartime, including the military and civilian experiences.

Image of War to Windrush by Stephen Bourne

by Stephen Bourne

A book highlighting the lives of black women in Britain from the second world war to the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948.

 

Click the links for each book to be taken to a website to find out more and to purchase a copy if you are interested in reading it. Where I can, I have linked to an independent or black-owned bookstore, but of course you can also find most of these books at major retailers.