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Weekend Recs: Black History

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Happy Friday, Wildcats! It’s the beginning of February, which means it’s officially Black History Month. Last year, I kicked off Black History Month with some Black independent film recommendations, which you can check out here. This year, I wanted to focus on the history part of the holiday. So, if you want to explore works on Black history and the contributions of Black activists and historical figures in American history (and not just The Help), here are some recommendations to get you started over the weekend.

If you have 5 minutes…and want to learn about the origins of BHM and the theme for this year, read this article.

If you have 15 minutes…and want to learn about some of the most influential Black Americans in history, check out this article. It’s impossible to fit every single history-making Black American into one blog, but this article does a good job of sharing a glimpse into some noteworthy figures we should all know.

If you have 42 minutes and 56 seconds…and like podcasts, listen to “The Fight for a True Democracy,” the first episode of  1619 from the New York Times. The 1619 audio series, along with the other episodes and the subsequent book 1619 Project: A New Origin Story (available to read online through Falvey), reframes the common (racist) narrative of American history to emphasize the importance of Black people in making our country what it is today.

If you have 58 minutes…and want to go on a “disturbing voyage” through racism and racist stereotypes in the United States, watch the documentary Ethnic Notions, available to stream online through Falvey, by the late Marlon Riggs (also known for his more experimental queer poetry film Tongues Untied).

If you have 1 hour and 33 minutes…and are a fan of James Baldwin, watch his award-winning documentary I Am Not Your Negro, available to stream online through Falvey. Baldwin explores his experiences during Civil Rights Movement by focusing on the lives and deaths of his friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. King.

Bonus: if you want to watch a recently released movie about the Civil Rights Movement, watch Rustin on Netflix. Starring Colman Domingo, Rustin tells the story of Bayard Rustin, a Civil Rights activist, advisor to Dr. King, and an openly gay Black man. Not only is the topic of this film important to Black history, but Domingo’s Oscar nomination makes him the second openly queer actor to be nominated for playing a queer character and the first Afro-Latino men to ever be nominated for Best Actor.

If you have 2 hours and 5 minutes…and love biopics, watch Harriet on Netflix. As the name suggests, this movie follows Harriet Tubman as she escapes slavery and becomes one of the most prolific “conductors” for the Underground Railroad.

Bonus: If you want to see more strong Black women in history on screen, watch The Woman King, highlighting the Agojie warriors of the Dahomey kingdom, on Netflix.

If you have 3 hours…and need something to do this weekend, see Ava DuVernay’s Origin in theaters. The film follows real-life writer Isabel Wilkerson as she writes her best-selling book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, which explores race as a part of a caste system (available to read at Falvey).

Bonus: if you want to check out some of Ava DuVernay’s other films, watch Selma, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection, and 13th on Netflix.

If you have 6 hours…and want to stay on theme this year with “African Americans and the Arts,” read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, one of the most popular works of Black American literature (or just ever) by Maya Angelou, available online through Falvey.

Annie Stockmal is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant in Falvey Library.

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Last Modified: February 2, 2024

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