Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month!

In honor of Black History Month, we’ve highlighted a few books that celebrate Black music, Black poetry, Black art and Black activism – as well as the artists and culture behind them!

black music

Hey America!
by Stuart Cosgrove

This is the untold story of black music – its triumph over racism, segregation, undercapitalised record labels, media discrimination and political anxiety – told through the perspective of the most powerful office in the world: from Louis Armstrong’s spat with President Eisenhower and Eartha Kitt’s stormy encounter with Lady Bird Johnson to James Brown’s flirtation with Nixon, Reaganomics and the ‘Cop Killer’ scandal.

Moving, insightful and wide-ranging, Hey America! charts the evolution of sixties soul from the margins of American society to the mainstream, culminating in the rise of urban hip-hop and the dramatic stand-off between Donald Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement.

black poetry

Black Man Listen
by Kathy Casimir MacLean
Papillote Press

JR Ralph Casimir was a Pan-Africanist and poet from the Caribbean island of Dominica. He was organizer and General Secretary of the island’s branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (1912-1922) and agent for Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line.

This biography, lovingly written by his granddaughter Kathy Casimir MacLean, is the first in-depth look at the life of this courageous Dominican whose dedication to Pan-Africanist ideas is reflected in his writings and in his links with Garvey and other key African-American figures of the time. He was also a teacher, church cantor and poet, founding Dominica’s first literary society and publishing the first anthologies of Dominican poetry.

black activism

Blues for the White Man
by Fred de Vries
Penguin Random House South Africa

Blues is more than a musical genre: it’s a cultural phenomenon that spans several centuries on both sides of the Atlantic, from slavery to Black Lives Matter, from Jan van Riebeeck to Fees Must Fall, from Robert Johnson to Abdullah Ibrahim.

In Blues for the White Man, Fred de Vries looks for answers in America’s Deep South, drawing historical parallels with South Africa’s experience of colonialism, slavery, racism, civil war, segregation, and protest. Traveling to Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta, De Vries speaks to musicians, Black Lives Matter activists, and Trump supporters. He continues the conversation in South Africa, interviewing student protesters, white farmers, and political thought-leaders to develop an understanding of white supremacy and black anger, white fear, and black pain. A fascinating, insightful journey through time and space, Blues for the White Man is a celebration of multiculturalism and a plea for white people to do some ‘second line dancing’ for a change.