“You watched my brother die. That could have been me. I am my brother’s keeper. You in the United Nations are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America, and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd. I am asking you to help him. I am asking you to help me. I am asking you to help us. Black people in America.”
Philonise Floyd’s Statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council, June 17, 2020, Geneva, Switzerland. [UN News]
“Your problems will never be fully solved until and unless ours are solved. You will never be fully respected until and unless we are also respected. You will never be recognized as free human beings until and unless we are also recognized and treated as human beings. Our problem is your problem. It is not a Negro problem, nor an American problem. This is a world problem: a problem for humanity. It is not a problem of civil rights, but a problem of human rights!”
Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Memorandum to the Summit Conference of the Organization of African Unity, July 17, 1964, Cairo, Egypt. [Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements. (1965) ; The Africa Report, June 2, 2020.]
These calls for global solidarity against white racism in America are just two examples in the long history of the struggle for Black lives. In 1964, Malcolm X called for actions to be taken by the newly independent, African countries to pressure for change in America through the United Nations. In 2020, George Floyd’s brother pleaded with the world at a special hearing of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Interestingly, a similar plea was made to the United Nations at its founding in 1947 by W.E.B. Du Bois and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
In 2020, the United States was not a member of the UN Human Rights Council. In 2018, the Trump Administration withdrew the US government’s membership in the Council claiming that the body has an anti-Israel bias and questioning the legitimacy of other Council members based on their human rights records. [Update: “US officially rejoins controversial UN human rights council,” October 14, 2021.] Meanwhile, the Council’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights continue to conduct surveys on systemic racism and other forms of human oppression globally. [See also: “Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers…” August 2, 2022.] Non-governmental organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, also regularly investigate and report on racial discrimination and other human rights violations in the United States and elsewhere. The data and the record of pronouncements are archived and accessible, but what can anti-racist activists and the international human rights community do with such information?
Many observers say that the growing influence since 2013 of the “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) movement, the longstanding racial disparities in health and economic conditions laid bare by the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, and the recent, multi-racial protests against police brutality and systemic racism across the country are signs that America is moving towards a racial reckoning with global implications.
The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and anti-black racism are being felt around the world. On June 8, 2020. The Atlantic magazine published an assemblage of photographs. The pictures document the nonviolent protests across the globe against police brutality, racism, and the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and apartheid. These demonstrations have also bolstered the calls for reparations for slavery and colonialism. From Richmond to New York, from Fort-de-France to Paris to Saint-Louis, from Bristol to Cape Town, there are calls for the removal of public statues of slave traders, confederate generals, and white colonizers. By early August 2020, some are gone from the public square, many others are still in dispute, such as the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University. [See also: “Oxford College installs plaque…” October 11, 2021 -and- “West Point to Remove Confederate Monuments from Its Campus,” December 24, 2022.] While some local governments have begun to promise police reform and increased funding for redressing racial inequities, and youth-led demonstrations continue in the streets, universities and schools are also coming under renewed pressure to decolonize education and to implement an anti-racist, pedagogical Reformation. Is this all evidence of a grassroots, popular basis for a fundamental, global transformation in race relations and human rights?
Activist scholars and educators have a role to play. They will need to rely on a historical sensibility and a critical reading of sources. What follows here is a short bibliography of sources mostly in English and online, at Columbia and beyond, a starter kit of books, archival collections, videos, and web sites on the current moment in the struggle to overcome systemic racism, featuring works on the last decade of the Black struggle for human dignity in the US, pivotal Black youth leaders and writers in the US from the 1960s and 1970s and in the present, the issues facing Black peoples around the world, and a history of Black internationalism spanning the last century. Comments and suggestions on this blog entry and the bibliography are welcome.
1. Black Lives Matter – The Last Decade
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. We Were Eight Years in Power : An American Tragedy. (2017)
Darity, William A., Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen. From Here to Equality : Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century. (2020)
Glaude, Eddie S., Jr. Begin Again : James Baldwin’s America and It’s Urgent Lessons for Our Own. (2020)
Hillstrom, Laurie Collier. Black Lives Matter: From a Moment to a Movement. (2018)
Kendi, Ibram X. How To Be An Antiracist. (2019)
Lebron, Christopher J. The Making of Black Lives Matter : A Brief History of an Idea. (2013)
Policing the Planet : Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter. (2016) Edited by Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton.
Ransby, Barbara. Making All Black Lives Matter : Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century. (2018)
Richardson, Allissa V. Bearing Witness While Black : African Americans, Smartphones, and the New Protest #Journalism. (2019)
Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. (2016)
2. Collected Works and Documents on the History of the Struggle
Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal : An African American Anthology. 2nd ed. (2009) Edited by Manning Marable and Leith Mullings.
Milestone Documents in African American History. 4 vols. (2017) Edited by Echol Nix, Jr. and Keturah C. Nix. –See also: 2nd copy
NAACP papers. (1909-1972) [Ann Arbor, MI] : ProQuest, [2012-]
For more, search in Columbia’s library catalog using: “African Americans Civil Rights History Sources” as a “Subject”
3. Biographical Works
Brooks, Maegan Parker. Fannie Lou Hamer : America’s Freedom Fighting Woman. (2020)
Carmichael, Stokely. Ready For Revolution : The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). (2003)
Farmer, James. Lay Bare the Heart : An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement. (1998)
–See also: 2nd copy
Forman, James. The Making of Black Revolutionaries. (1972, 1997 ed.)
Khan-Cullors, Patrisse and Asha Bandele. When They Call You A Terrorist : A Black Lives Matter Memoir. (2018) –See also: 2nd copy
Lewis, David Levering. W.E.B. Du Bois : The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963. (2000)
Lewis, John R., with Michael D’Orso. Walking With the Wind : A Memoir of the Movement. (1998)
Perry, Imani. Breathe : A Letter to My Sons. (2019)
Ransby, Barbara. Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement : A Radical Democratic Vision. (2003) –See also: 2nd copy
Samuels, Robert and Toluse Olorunnipa. His Name is George Floyd : One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice. (2022)
X, Malcolm. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. (1965, 1992 ed.)
For more, search in Columbia’s library catalog using: “African American Civil Rights Workers Biography” as a “Subject”
4. Black Struggles Worldwide
Maynard, Robyn. Policing Black Lives : State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present. (2017)
Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada. (2020) Edited by Rodney Diverlus, Sandy Hudson, and Syrus Marcus Ware.
Andrews, Kehinde. Back to Black : Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century. (2018)
Eddo-Lodge, Reni. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. (2017)
Hirsch, Afua. Brit(ish) : On Race, Identity and Belonging. (2018)
Olusoga, David. Black And British : A Forgotten History. (2016)
Oxford Companion to Black British History. (2007) Edited by David Dabydeen, John Gilmore, and Cecily Jones.
Black Europe and the African Diaspora. (2009) Edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Danielle Keaton, and Stephen Small.
Black France/France Noire : The History and Politics of Blackness. (2012) Edited by Trica Danielle Keaton, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting and Tyler Stovall.
The Black Populations of France : Histories from Metropole to Colony. (2021) Edited by Sylvain Pattieu, Emmanuelle Sibeud, and Tyler Stovall.
Joseph-Gabriel, Annette K. Reimagining Liberation : How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire. (2020)
Not So Plain As Black and White : Afro-German Culture and History, 1890-2000. (2005) Edited by Patricia Mazón and Reinhild Steingröver.
Remapping Black Germany : New Perspectives on Afro-German History, Politics, and Culture. (2016) Edited by Sara Lennox.
Soumahoro, Maboula. Black Is The Journey, Africana The Name. (2022) Translated by Kaiama Glover.
Afro-Latin American Studies : An Introduction. (2018) Edited by Alejandro de la Fuente and George Reid Andrews.
Comparative Racial Politics in Latin America. (2019) Edited by Kwame Dixon and Ollie A. Johnson III.
Covin, David. The Unified Black Movement in Brazil, 1978-2002. (2006)
Dixon, Kwame. Afro-Politics and Civil Society in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. (2016)
Duncan, Jane. Protest Nation : The Right to Protest in South Africa. (2016)
Nyamnjoh, Francis B. #RhodesMustFall : Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa. (2016)
Rhodes Must Fall Movement. Rhodes Must Fall : The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire. (2018) Edited by Roseanne Chantiluke, Brian Kwoba and Athinangamso Nkopo.
Students Must Rise : Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76. (2016) Edited by Anne Heffernan and Noor Nieftagodien.
Cheng, Yinghong. Discourses of Race and Rising China. (2019)
Lan, Shanshan. Mapping the New African Diaspora in China : Race and the Cultural Politics of Belonging. (2017)
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia. (2018) Edited by Anita Heiss.
Growing Up African in Australia. (2019) Edited by Maxine Beneba Clarke.
Maddison, Sarah. The Colonial Fantasy : Why White Australia Can’t Solve Black Problems. (2019)
Rowse, Tim. Rethinking Social Justice: From ‘Peoples’ to ‘Populations’ (2012)
5. Black Internationalism
African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy : From the Era of Frederick Douglass to the Age of Obama. (2015) Edited by Linda Heywood, Allison Blakely, Charles Stith, and Joshua C. Yesnowitz.
Blyden, Nemata Amelia. African Americans and Africa: A New History. (2019)
Davis, Angela Y. Freedom is a Constant Struggle : Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. (2016) –See also: 2nd copy
Edwards, Brent Hayes. The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism. (2003) –See also: 2nd copy
From Toussaint to Tupac : The Black International Since the Age of Revolution. (2009) Edited by Michael O. West, William G. Martin, & Fanon Che Wilkins.
Gaines, Kevin K. American Africans in Ghana : Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era. (2006)
King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Radical King. (2015) Edited and introduced by Cornel West.
Lewis, Rupert Charles. Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought. (1998)
Meriwether, James H. Proudly We Can Be Africans : Black Americans and Africa, 1935-1961. (2002)
Nesbitt, Francis Njubi. Race for Sanctions : African Americans Against Apartheid, 1946-1994. (2004)
New Social Movements in the African Diaspora : Challenging Global Apartheid. (2009) Edited by Leith Mullings.
Perry, Jeffrey Babcock. Hubert Harrison : The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918. (2009)
Plummer, Brenda Gayle. In Search of Power : African Americans in the Era Of Decolonization. (2013)
Routledge Handbook of Pan-Africanism. (2020) Edited by Reiland Rabaka.
Talton, Benjamin. In This Land of Plenty : Mickey Leland and Africa in American Politics. (2019)
— See also: 2nd copy
To Turn the Whole World Over : Black Women and Internationalism. (2019) Edited by Keisha N. Blain and Tiffany M. Gill.
Transnational Blackness : Navigating the Global Color Line. (2008) Edited by Manning Marable and Vanessa Agard-Jones.
Trustee for the Human Community : Ralph J. Bunche, the United Nations, and the Decolonization of Africa. (2010) Edited by Robert A. Hill and Edmond J. Keller.
Umoren, Imaobong Denis. Race Women Internationalists : Activist-Intellectuals and Global Freedom Struggles. (2018)
Von Eschen, Penny M. Race Against Empire : Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957. (1997)
6. Black Internationalists in the Archives at Columbia University
Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora. “Police Violence in the Global Black Community: Mame-Fatou Niang, Luciana Brito, Manoucheka Celeste, and Sandy Hudson. Moderated by Christen Smith.” June 11, 2020.
Boston Review. “Where Do We Go From Here: A Fundraiser for Black Lives.” Panel discussion: Elizabeth Hinton, Robin D.G. Kelley, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Cornel West. Moderated by Brandon M. Terry. July 12, 2020.
I Am Not Your Negro. Scenario and directed by Raoul Peck ; produced by Remí Grellety, Raoul Peck. (2016, 2017). Los Angeles, CA : Magnolia Home Entertainment ; published by Kino Lorber Edu.
[“…Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished.”] –See also: DVD version
“Statue Wars : One Summer in Bristol.” (2021) Director and producer, Francis Welch.
“Stay Woke : The Black Lives Matter Movement.” (2016) Director and producer, Laurens Grant ; Executive Producer, Jesse Williams.
“#unsilencedpast.” With Marlene L. Daut and Annette Joseph-Gabriel. Moderated by Kaiama Glover. Produced by Digital Humanities at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York.
8. Web Sites
The Black Curriculum (UK)
Duke University Libraries. SNCC Digital Gateway [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee]
Human Rights Watch. United States Program: Racial Discrimination
Institute of the Black World 21st Century. National African American Reparations Commission
Movement for Black Lives [A space for Black organizations across the country to debate and discuss the current political conditions.]