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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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Cover of Isha Sesay's 'Beneath the Tamarind Tree'

'Beneath the Tamarind Tree'—an Excerpt From Isha Sesay's Book About Remembering the Chibok Girls

Read an exclusive excerpt from the Sierra Leonean reporter's new book, which offers firsthand accounts of what happened to the girls while in Boko Haram captivity in an attempt to make the world remember.

Below is an excerpt from the seventh chapter in Sierra-Leonean journalist and author Isha Sesay's new book, "Beneath the Tamarind Tree," the "first definitive account" of what took place on the ground following the abduction of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in 2014.

Continue on to read more, and revisit our interview with the reporter about why it's important for the world to remember the girls' stories, here.

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Adamawa State Governor Bindow and the 21 freed girls (c) Adam Dobby

Isha Sesay’s Bold New Book Forces Us to Remember the Chibok Girls, Even If Social Media Has Forgotten

In 'Beneath the Tamarind Tree' the Sierra-Leonean author offers "the first definitive account" of what took place on the ground following the girls' abduction.

Five years ago, 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their school in northern Nigeria by a group of Boko Haram militants. A global outcry ensued with social media and the international press proclaiming their devotion to the missing girls. #BringBackOurGirls became the digital rallying cry for the movement. Even the most famous of public figures—the likes of then First Lady Michelle Obama—stood behind it. This level of attention was unique, and frankly rare for a tragedy occurring in Africa, and it seemed that the help of the entire world was exactly what was needed to topple the threat of growing extremism in Northern Nigeria, and bring the girls home safely.

Then, the world moved on—with the exception of a few. Sierra Leonean-born journalist Isha Sesay, the host of CNN Africa at the time, was one of the foremost voices covering the events taking place in Chibok, following and reporting on every painstaking detail about the girls and their possible whereabouts, even earning the network a Peabody Award in 2014 for her coverage. Her commitment to their story didn't wane—even when it was clear that the news cycle had moved on. For Sesay, the threat of erasure was further motivation to continue following the girls' story. As new developments occurred, beginning in 2016, Sesay hit the ground. She traveled to Chibok and followed those who'd been freed, while continuing to advocate for the immediate release of the 112 girls who are still missing.

READ: 'Beneath the Tamarind Tree'—an Excerpt From Isha Sesay's Book About Remembering the Chibok Girls

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Davido's Fiancé, Chioma Rowland, Tests Positive For Coronavirus

The Nigerian musician made the announcement via a heartfelt Instagram post on Friday.

Chioma Rowland, the fiancé of star Nigerian musician Davido, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The artist shared the news via Instagram on Friday, writing that he and 31 people on his team decided to get tested after returning back to Lagos from abroad. While he and the rest of his team received negative results, Rowland's test came back positive.

"Unfortunately, my fiancé's results came back positive while all 31 others tested have come back negative including our baby," wrote Davido. He added that they both showed no systems, but would be self-isolating as a safety measure.

"We are however doing perfectly fine and she is even still yet to show any symptoms whatsoever. She is now being quarantined and I have also gone into full self isolation for the minimum 14 days," he added. "I want to use this opportunity to thank you all for your endless love and prayers in advance and to urge everyone to please stay at home as we control the spread of this virus! Together we can beat this!"

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Juls Drops New Music Video for 'Soweto Blues' Featuring Busiswa and Jaz Karis

The Ghanaian-British producer heads to South Africa for the music video for the amapiano-inspired track.

Heavyweight Ghanaian-British producer Juls shares his first offering of 2020, and it does not disappoint.

The producer enlists South African music star Busiswa and London's Jaz Karis for the jazz-inflected "Soweto Blues," which also boasts elements of South Africa's dominant electronic sound, Amapiano. The slow-burner features airy vocals from Karis who features prominently on the 3-minute track, while Busiswa delivers a standout bridge in her signature high-energy tone.

"The song dubbed "Soweto Blues" is a song depicting the love, sadness and fun times that Soweto tends to offer its people," read the song's YouTube description. The video premiered earlier today on The Fader. "The energy is amazing, the people are lovely and I've found a second home — especially the vibrancy of Soweto," the producer told The Fader about his trip to Soweto for the making of the video "Jaz Karis is singing a love song, which is symbolic of my new love of Soweto and I'm honoured to have worked with Busiswa whom I have been a fan of for a long time."

Fittingly, the music video sees Juls traveling through the township, taking in its sights and energy. The video, directed by Nigel Stöckl, features striking shots of the popular area and its skilled pantsula dancers.

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