Black History Month Recommendations
Updated: Feb 5
February is Black History Month, a celebration of the stories, voices and contributions of Black people who have been historically silenced and repressed.
This month presents an opportunity to look into the past and learn about forgotten leaders, visionaries and pioneers whose achievements outshine the racial discrimination they have faced throughout their lifetime.
In 2023, the theme of Black History Month is "Ours to tell", which represents an opportunity to engage in open dialogue and a commitment to learning about the stories Black communities in Canada have to tell about their histories, successes, sacrifices and triumphs.
As part of the celebration, PISA is highlighting some reading and viewing material which reveals key perspectives on Black history.
Black History on Screen
Just Mercy is a biographical film which presents the true story of Walter McMillian, an African American worker who was wrongfully jailed for murder in 1987. This movie follows the legal case as the defense attorney attempts to appeal the racially motivated and entirely fabricated murder conviction.
I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary based on an unfinished book by James Baldwin which examines the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr, as well as showcasing the work of civil rights activists and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The Freedom Riders is a documentary film which tells the true story of a group of black and white civil rights activists travelling the southern states of America in order to challenge segregation in the 1960s.
Wash Day shows three young Black women getting ready for their day as they discuss the public perception of their Blackness in relation to their cultivation of a strong sense of self. This movie is an exploration into how domestic acts such as washing your hair or putting on makeup become a significant re-acquaintance with the body, before and after navigating the politics of one's outward appearance.
Mr. Jane and Finch tells the story of a beloved 80-year-old Guyanese-Canadian activist Winston LaRose, who has documented the Black community throughout the African Diaspora for the past 60 years, when he decides to throw his hat into local politics and is met with systemic racism in the Canadian political system. This film gives an insider perspective of Black community activism in Canada.
Black History in Print
Brown Girl Dreaming is a collection of poems written by Jacqueline Woodson, who was raised in South Carolina and New York. She shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her increasing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Each poem offers a glimpse into a young girl's soul as she searches for her place in the world.
The Hate U Give is a book about a sixteen-year-old girl named Starr who moves between two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. Her world is shattered when her childhood best friend Khalil is killed at the hands of a police officer while being unarmed. What Starr does, or does not say could upend her community while also endangering her life.
The Colour of Law exposes the intentional role that the law has contributed to racial discrimination across all parts of Black people's lives. This book explores the policies that shaped segregation in American society.
The Freedom Writers Diary is a collection of essays written by the culturally marginalized students of an English teacher. The teacher was given a class of supposedly 'unteachable' students who she encouraged to write about their struggles, hopes and feelings in the face of a society who had given up on them.
Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the tale of Janie Crawford, whose search for her identity takes her on a journey where she learns what love is, experiences life's joys and sorrows, and come home to herself in peace.
Black Voices Out Loud
You Had Me at Black is a podcast that covers stories from Black millennials in America on topics such as church, breakups, queer relationships, and mental health in the context of Black culture with the goal of showing a real, unfiltered narrative.
Strange Fruit encourages discussion around black gay culture. Topics include black body positivity, LGBTQ+ allies, transracial adoption. Guests include actors, authors, professors and models.
Seizing Freedom is a podcast hosted by Dr. Kidada E. Williams and celebrates Black history. Each season of the show includes eight history episodes using the words of great Black leaders to bring the past to life, as well as eight interview episodes with artists, activists, and intellectuals discussing how the legacy of this time period impacts life today.
The Brown Girl's Guide to Politics is hosted by activist A'shanti Gholar where she has conversations with women who are changing the face of politics, including interviews with influencers and political candidates.
Code Switch is one of the most popular podcasts for fearless conversations about race and identity and their impact on every part of society. This podcast has a diverse range of topics, ranging from Black gun ownership and how to talk about race with children.
These are just a few suggestions for Black History Month, but now more than ever we have increased access to Black voices, culture and history to ensure that we are continuously learning all year.