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13 of Our Favorite Books On Black Resistance and Revolution

Here are 13 of the most influential books about resistance and revolution by black visionaries.

This month at OkayAfrica, we're celebrating Black revolution—icons and movements throughout history that have fostered revolutionary thinking and encouraged social progress.


Black history is filled with an abundance of brave, era-defining artists, writers, politicians and more who've embodied a spirit of boldness and progressive thinking in the face of adversity. In today's rocky political landscape of hate, misogyny and anti-blackness, these thinker's teachings, words and ideas are invaluable.

There's no shortage of literature form the likes of Malcolm X to Steve Biko, Thomas Sankara and more that continue to spark fire in people and encourage a revolutionary spirit years after they were written.

Below are 13 of our favorite books about black revolution.

1. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

The prolific writer's 1963 book, contains two thought-provoking essays: My Dungeon Shook—Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation, a gut-wrenching address to his young nephew about the perils of back identity in America and a meditation on intergenerational trauma, change and legacy, and Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind is an equally poignant piece that chronicles his childhood experiences in Harlem. The essay offers a provocative stance on racial dynamics in America.

2. Assata Shakur: An Autobiography

This affecting page-turner, reveals the cutting racial dynamics and corrupt criminal justice system that landed the now exiled Black Liberation Army member in prison for life. We follow her journey from her contested murder conviction to her escape to Cuba. Her story highlights the often downplayed role of black women in the fight towards racial equality in the United States.

3. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa

This collection of writings from a diverse group of women scholars, offers critical, essays, analyses and prose that reflects on feminism, race and identity and a range of experiences which impact women of color. It is one of the earliest works to criticize white feminism. Each entry enlightens with personal accounts, and unique perspective that stimulate and resonate with readers.

4. Women's Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle by Thomas Sankara

This transcript of a speech that the late first president of Burkina Faso's 1987 speech at a women's rally, illustrates why he is, even till this day, considered Africa's most progressive leader. In the forward-thinking speech, Sankara authoritatively sends a message of uncompromising gender equality. It's in this speech that he delivered one of his most unforgettable quotes: "there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women." Thirty years later, and his words still ring true.

5. I Write What I Like by Steve Biko

This compilation of writings form the South African revolutionary, illustrate why he was one of the anti-apartheid movement's most celebrated figures. This book is the fierce leader's retrospective call-to-action, that encourages readers to reframe their state of mind. I Write What I Like, gifted us this famous gem: "The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

6. The Autobiography of Malcom X As Told To Alex Haley

This book is often credited with enlightening many a black college student by providing an explosive introduction to black consciousness. It's the most detailed account of how the icon, born Malcom Little, went on to become the fiercest icon of the Civil Rights Movement, and a leader whose name is virtually synonymous with black resistance.

7. Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis

This book by one of the feminist movement's most celebrated thought leaders, is a dissection of an array of societal issues that plague America including race, class and gender inequality. It's a sweeping analysis that breaks down systemic oppression in a digestible way from one of the legendary scholar and former Black Panther leader.

8. Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism by Kwame Nkrumah

Upon its release in 1965, this book was so controversial that the US Department of State blocked $25 million in foreign aide to Ghana. In the book, Nkrumah unabashedly lambasted Western governments—particularly the United States—calling out the exploitative nature of their economic presence in Africa, even after several African nations gained their independence. It remains one of the most thorough critiques on the subject of neo-colonialism.

9. Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan-Africanism by Stokley Carmichael

This collection of essays, speeches and articles tracks the evolution of consciousness of the revolutionary Civil Rights hero and the collective conscious of the black community as a whole through three key movements: Civil Rights, Black Power and Pan-Africanism. It's a lesson in the many political efforts that shaped black history in the United States, and a reminder to never stop growing in knowledge and perspective.

10. Re-creating Ourselves by Molara Ogundipe-Leslie

This 1994 book by Nigerian poet, feminist, activist and literary critic Molara Ogundipe-Leslie is a classic feminist work by one of its foremost African authorities. In Re-creating Ourselves, Ogundipe-Leslie, discusses colonialism, sexist traditions, and articulates the plight of black and African women. She has written many significant works on feminism from an African perspective, such as the acclaimed essay "Not Spinning on the Axis of Maleness," published in the book Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology. Her work is an example of the importance of black women creating and owning their own narratives.

11. A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

This autobiographical work profiles the South African leader's childhood, activism, and 27 years in prison. The book is an examination of the roots of apartheid told from the perspective of a global icon. It's an inspirational story to say the least, which offers a realistic yet largely optimistic outlook.

12. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B DuBois

This seminal work of literature, written by the trailblazing sociologist, Civil Rights activist and Pan-Africanist, set the foundation for many works on race, class and society which followed. The Souls of Black Folk is largely heralded as the cornerstone of black literature, introducing radical concepts such as double consciousness, the color line and the veil.

13. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution by C. L. R. James

This 1938 book by Afro-Trinidadian writer C.L.R. James tells the under-appreciated history of the Haitian Revolution, focusing on the leadership of Toussaint L'Ouverture. This book is significant for obvious reasons, it's a stirring account of how the 'First Black Republic" came to be in the face of adversity and a commentary on the effects of slavery and racism in the Americas.

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(From left to right) Stéphane Bak and Marc Zinga in 'The Mercy of the Jungle.' Photo courtesy of TIFF.

Congolese Actor Stéphane Bak on His Intense Experience Shooting 'The Mercy of the Jungle' In Uganda

We catch up with the actor after the film made its North American premiere at TIFF.

When actor Stéphane Bak first got the script for The Mercy of the Jungle (La Miséricorde de la Jungle), he knew there was one person he had to consult: his father. "My dad did school me about this," he says. While Bak was born and raised in France, his parents had emigrated from what was then Zaire in the 1980s—before the events of the movie, and not exactly in the same area, but close enough to be able to pass on firsthand knowledge of the simmering ethnic tensions that underpin the action.

The story takes place in 1998, just after the outbreak of the Second Congo War—which came hot on the heels of the First Congo War. Two Rwandan soldiers find themselves separated from their company and have to make a harrowing trek through the jungle to link back up with their regiment. Bak plays Private Faustin, the young recruit hunting Hutu rebels to avenge his murdered family, a foil to Marc Zinga's seasoned Sergeant Xavier. As a Congolese militia swarms the area, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell enemies from friends, the two are forced off the road and into the thick vegetation.

Their journey is physically difficult, but the jungle also nurtures them, providing food, water, and shelter. "The title is very explicit in a way," says Bak. It is the human beings they encounter, from rival soldiers and militiamen to the hostile security forces guarding illegal gold mining operations, who bring sudden danger and violence. The challenges are conveyed as much through the actors' physicality as through the minimal dialogue. As for the strain on his face, Bak says it was all real. "To be honest, it was very difficult," he says of the shoot, which took him 25 days. "I had to learn my accent in two weeks." Prior to commencing, there was training with the Ugandan army for realism. Due to the ongoing conflicts in the DRC, the movie itself was shot in Uganda.

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Brazil Has Made Yoruba an Official Language

The language will also be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum in the country, says the Minister of Culture.

Yoruba history and culture has an undeniably strong presence in Brazilian society, due of course, to the Transatlantic slave trade which brought millions of enslaved West Africans to the Americas. Despite the inhumanity they faced, many managed to keep their ancestral culture and traditions alive.

Centuries have passed, and Yoruba influences still continue to thrive in various regions of the country, as many Brazilians maintain a strong relationship with the language and religion. Its influence can be seen through the music, food and spiritual practices of various communities. Last month the Ooni of Ife—the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people—visited the country, where he was met by crowds of Black Brazilians who turned up to pay their respects.

This connection will likely remain strong for future generations, as the language has now become an official foreign language in the country.

WATCH: How Ilê Aiyê Brought Blackness Back to Carnival

Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that the language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum, reports the Nigerian Voice.

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This EP Blends the Afro-Brazilian Rhythms of Bahia With Bass Music

Get into Telefunksoul and Felipe Pomar's Ré_Con Ba$$ EP.

Brazilian producers Felipe Pomar (of TrapFunk & Alivio) and Telefunksoul come through with a dizzyingly energetic EP in the form of Ré_Con Ba$$.

Telefunksoul, who happens to be one of the main promoters of Bahia Bass music, came up with the concept of exploring the rhythms coming out of Recôncavo of Bahia and showing how they can fit into bass music.

Through the 7-track Ré_Con Ba$$ EP, him and Pomar mold and transform the diverse music of Bahia, fusing its rhythms with afrobeat, future house, deep house and much more.

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