American Studies at Leicester

Black Lives Matter

Academics in the Centre for American Studies have put together a list of resources for anyone interested in learning more about the Black Lives Matter movement. This list is not exhaustive but it offers a useful starting point for further reading.

The Centre is committed to anti-racist, inclusive learning, teaching, and research – many of the items on this list are drawn from our current module reading lists.

We affirm that Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter mural in Charlotte, NC. Source: David A. Thrower | @7Hangtime on Instagram

Immediate materials for understanding the Black Lives Matter Movement


  • James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974)
  • James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1955)
  • Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979)
  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
  • Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (2016)
  • Langston Hughes, The Ways of White Folks (1934)
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
  • T. Geronimo Johnson, Welcome to Braggsville (2015)
  • William Melvin Kelley, A Different Drummer (1962)
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)
  • Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992)
  • Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye: A Novel (1970)
  • Ann Petry, The Street (1946)
  • Kylie Reid, Such a Fun Age (2019)
  • Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)
  • Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016)
  • Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys (2019)
  • Richard Wright, Native Son (1940)


  • Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)
  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963)
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (2015)
  • Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)
  • Audre Lorde, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House (2018)
  • Toni Morrison,"Mourning for Whiteness"(2016)
  • Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography (1988)
  • Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)
  • Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped (2013)
  • Richard Wright, Black Boy (1945)

Films and Television Shows

  • 12 Years a Slave (dir. Steve McQueen, 2013)
  • 13th (dir. Ava DuVernay, 2016)
  • Atlanta (Donald Glover, 2016-)
  • Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler, 2018)
  • black-ish (Kenya Barris, 2014-)
  • BlacKkKlansman (dir. Spike Lee, 2018)
  • Boyz n the Hood (dir. John Singleton, 1991)
  • Daughters of the Dust (dir. Julie Dash, 1991)
  • Do the Right Thing (dir. Spike Lee, 1989)
  • Fruitvale Station (dir. Ryan Coogler, 2013)
  • Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele, 2017)
  • I Am Not Your Negro (Roaul Peck, 2016)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (dir. Barry Jenkins, 2018)
  • Killer of Sheep (dir. Charles Burnett, 1978)
  • Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016)
  • One False Move (dir. Carl Franklin, 1992)
  • Pose (Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Steven Canals, 2018-)
  • Selma (dir. Ava DuVernay, 2014)

Poetry and Drama

  • Jericho Brown, The Tradition (2019)
  • Jericho Brown, “Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry” (2020)
  • Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), SOS: Poems 1961-2013 (2016)
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks (2014), Selected Poems (2006)
  • Lucille Clifton, The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010 (2012)
  • Lucille Clifton, How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton (2020)
  • Wanda Coleman, Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems (2020)
  • Wanda Coleman, The Riot Inside Me: More Trials and Tremors (2011)
  • Countee Cullen, Collected Poems (2014)
  • Rita Dove, Collected Poems (2016)
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar, The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar (2018)
  • Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1959)
  • Michael S. Harper, Songlines in Michaeltree: New and Collected Poems (2000)
  • Robert Hayden, Collected Poems (2013)
  • Terrence Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins (2018)
  • Terrence Hayes, “George Floyd” (2020)
  • Angela Jackson, All these Roads Be Luminous: Poems Selected and New (1997)
  • June Jordan, Directed by Desire (2005)
  • Etheridge Knight, The Essential Etheridge Knight (1986)
  • Yusef Komunyakaa, The Emperor of Water Clocks (2015)
  • Yusef Komunyakaa, Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems (1993)
  • Langston Hughes, Selected/Collected Poems (various edition)
  • Clarence Major, From Now On: New and Selected Poems 1970-2015 (2015)
  • Clarence Major, ed. The Garden Thrives: 20th Century African-American Poetry (1996)
  • Claude McKay, Complete Poems (2008)
  • Aja Monet, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter (2017)
  • Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014)
  • Claudia Rankine, “Weather” (2020)
  • Ed Roberson, To See the Earth Before the End of the World (2011)
  • Sonia Sanchez, Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (2012)
  • Danez Smith, Don't Call Us Dead: Poems (2017)
  • Phillis Wheatley, Complete Writings (2002)
  • August Wilson, Fences (1985)

Podcasts and Music

  • 1619 (Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times, 2019)
  • 2Pac, Strictly 4 MY N.I.G.G.A.Z.(1993)
  • The Hereafter (produced by Eve Tuck)
  • Beyonce, Lemonade (2016)
  • Che Lingo, “My Block” (2020)
  • Childish Gambino, This is America (2018)
  • Marvin Gaye, “Inner City Blues” (1971)
  • Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
  • N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton (1988)
  • YG, “FTP” (2020)

Understanding Black Women’s History

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists (2014)
  • Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross, A Black Women's History of the United States (2020)
  • B. Collier-Thompson & V.P. Franklin, Sisters in Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (2001)
  • Angela Davis, Women, Race & Class (1981)
  • Faye Dudden, Fighting Chance: The struggle over woman suffrage and black suffrage in Reconstruction America (2011)
  • Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (1984)
  • bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989)
  • bell hooks, ain’t i a woman: black women and feminism (1981)
  • Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (2019)
  • Morgan Jerkins, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America (2018)
  • Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider (1984)
  • R. Terborg-Penn, African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920 (1998)
  • Emily West, Enslaved Women in America: From Colonial Times to Emancipation (2014)
  • Deborah Gray White, Ar'n't I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South (1985)

Histories of Policing and Punishment in the United States

  • Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010)
  • Gloria Browne-Marshall, Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present (2007)
  • Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003)
  • Shaun Gabbidon and Helen Greene, Race, Crime, and Justice: a Reader (2005)
  • Sarah Haley, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (2016)
  • Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department (2015)
  • Leonard Moore, Black Rage in New Orleans: Police Brutality and African American Activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina (2010)
  • Khalil Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (2010)
  • Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: a Story of Justice and Redemption (2014)

Abolition and Civil Rights

  • Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters (1988)
  • Clayborne Carson, In Struggle (1981)
  • James Cone, Martin and Malcolm and America (1991)
  • David Doddington, Contesting Slave Masculinity in the American South (2018)
  • Mary Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights (2000)
  • John Egerton, Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement (1994)
  • Glenn Eskew, But for Birmingham (1997)
  • Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961)
  • Adam Fairclough, To Redeem the Soul of America (1987)
  • Glenn Feldman [ed.], Before Brown: Civil Rights and White Backlash in the Modern South (2004)
  • David Garrow, Bearing the Cross (1986)
  • Daniel Geary, Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and its Legacy (2015)
  • Jacqueline Dowd Hall, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,” Journal of American History, Vol. 91, No. 4 (March 2005)
  • Wesley Hogan, Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC’s Dream for a New America (2007)
  • Blair L. M. Kelley, Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson (2010)
  • Richard H. King, Civil Rights and the Idea of Freedom (1992)
  • M.J. Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality (2004)
  • Steven Lawson, Black Ballots (1976)
  • Steven Lawson, In Pursuit of Power: Southern Blacks and Electoral Politics (1985)
  • George Lewis, Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement (2006)
  • Iwan Morgan and Philip Davies [eds.] From Sit-Ins to SNCC: The Student Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s (2012)
  • Howell Raines [ed.] My Soul is Rested: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South (1977)
  • Belinda Robnett, How long? How Long? African American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights (1997)
  • James Patterson, Brown vs. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy (2001)
  • Manisha Sinha, The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (2016)
  • Stephen Tuck, We Ain’t What We Ought to Be: The Black Freedom Struggle from Emancipation to Obama (2010)
  • Tim Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F Williams and the Roots of Black Power (1999)
  • William Van Deburg, New Day in Babylon (1992)
  • Kevern Verney and Lee Sartain [eds.], Long is the Way and Hard: One Hundred Years of the NAACP (2009)
  • Thomas Wagstaff, Black Power (1969)
  • Clive Webb [ed.] Massive Resistance: Southern Opposition to the Second Reconstruction (2005)
  • Simon Wendt, The Spirit and the Shotgun (2007)
  • Gary Younge, No Place Like Home (1999)
  • Gary Younge, Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States (2006)
  • Gary Younge, Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives (2016)

Race and Latin America

  • George Reid Andrews, Afro-Latin America (2004)
  • Herman L. Bennet, Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico (2009)
  • Cherrie Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back (any edition)
  • Kathryn Joy McKnight and Leo Garofalo (eds), Afro-Latino Voices: Narratives from the early modern Ibero-Atlantic World (2009)

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