Essential Books for UK Black History Month
This October, during UK Black History Month, we are proud to publish Making the Revolution Global by Theo Williams - an essential account of how black radicals reshaped the British left. Williams showcases a revolutionary tradition that, as illustrated by the global Black Lives Matter demonstrations of 2020, is still relevant today.
See our longer reading list on Black radicalism here.
Making the Revolution Global shows how black radicals transformed socialist politics in Britain in the years before decolonisation.
By centring the entanglements between black radicals and the wider British socialist movement, Theo Williams casts new light on responses to the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia, the 1945 Fifth Pan-African Congress, and a wealth of other events and phenomena.
Walter Rodney was a major revolutionary figure in a dizzying range of locales that traversed the breadth of the Black diaspora: in North America and Europe, in the Caribbean and on the African continent.
Read an excerpt on Rodney’s Marxist approach to African underdevelopment here.
The story of how enslaved women struggled for freedom in the West Indies.
“Stella Dadzie has given us another chapter in women's history by uncovering resistance that is uniquely rooted in controlling reproduction.” – Arike Oke, Director of The Black Cultural Archives
The Heart of the Race is a powerful corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded. It reclaims and records black women’s place in that history, documenting their day-to-day struggles, their experiences of education, work and health care, and the personal and political struggles they have waged to preserve a sense of identity and community.
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an ambitious masterwork of political economy, detailing the impact of slavery and colonialism on the history of international capitalism. In this classic book, Rodney makes the unflinching case that African “mal-development” is not a natural feature of geography, but a direct product of imperial extraction from the continent, a practice that continues up into the present.
Read an excerpt on how colonialism reversed Africa's various paths of progress here.
In this pioneering history, Ron Ramdin traces the roots of Britain’s disadvantaged black working class. From the development of a small black presence in the sixteenth century, through the colonial labour institutions of slavery, indentureship, and trade unionism, Ramdin expertly guides us through the stages of creation for a UK minority whose origins are often overlooked.
“Where are you from?” was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post-war London. One of the so-called brown babies of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh mother, Carby’s place in her home, her neighbourhood, and her country of birth was always in doubt.
Moving between Jamaican plantations, the hills of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London, Carby’s family story is at once an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands. In charting British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling, Carby will find herself reckoning with what she can tell, what she can remember, and what she can bear to know.