For albeit 4.1 we asked our contributors to submit a list of recommended Black Lives Matter texts:

Joshua Adair:

Marguerite (2015; dir. Xavier Giannoli): Without giving away the ending, it’s difficult to talk about precisely why I admire this film so much; the representation of race frequently relies upon shopworn tropes that find new life by its conclusion. I will say, though, that Denis Mpunga’s performance as the butler Madelbos offers a delightful referendum upon hierarchies of power and privilege — embodied in this case by the aristocratic class — and their insistence upon erasing, silencing, and/or co-opting any creativity and/or critique they find seductive.

The Erotic Life of Racism  (2012) by Sharon Patricia Holland: I deeply admire the ways in which Holland puts critical race theory, queer theory, and black feminism in conversation; her ability to highlight the quotidian nature of racism as its insidious force is masterful and critical to conceptualizing a force that has long gone ignored

Srimayee Basu:

Two of my favorite books which conceptualize the idea of “Black Lives Matter” are James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Derrick Bell’s Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism. While the former explores black identity through social and existential frames in one of the most powerful narratives I have ever read, the latter played an instrumental role in demystifying post-integration era colorblindness and is a key work of Critical Race Theory, a field that defines my work as a scholar.

Yunina Barbour-Payne:

I appreciate Fruitvale Station as a film integral to the Black Lives Matter movement because of its work in documenting.  The manner in which the film moves slowly over a very short period of time captures the humanity in its characters.  In my opinion, this film successfully depicts social media activism in the wake of atrocities in part by inciting a visceral response to injustice through the lens of one man’s attempts at personal improvement. Michael B. Jordan’s truth in his character portrayal makes it very hard to separate this real life account from dramatic irony.

Beth Bockes:

Frederick Douglass’s and Harriet Jacobs’s stirring narratives, the soulful poetry of Frances Harper, Langston Hughes, and Robert Hayden . . . so many favorites in the canon of African American literature come to mind. More specifically though, to me, “Black Lives Matter” represents the historical, essential-existential struggle of a people, and two exceptionally provocative, beautifully conceived works that probe the personal depths of this Black existential crisis are Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Morrison leaves her reader nowhere to look but deep into the desperate eyes—into the confounded psyche—of America’s most vulnerable: the poorest of black children; Ellison stakes a bold, ironic, Black claim to human dignity, worth, and recognition. Where Morrison’s story is at once sobering and heartbreaking, Ellison’s takes on an epic quality. Both are unforgettable.

Janet Braun-Reinitz:

Old, but still relevant films:  Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee and Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett

Stanley Nelson documentaries, particularly The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

For a different cultural perspective, the films of Ousmane Sembene and

For two visual artists whose works were well ahead of their time see Jacob Lawrence and Bettye Sayre. All these years later, their work holds up both politically and aesthetically..

Nancy Comorau:

Nadeem Aslam, The Blind Man’s Garden
Michelle Cliff, Free Enterprise
Paul Gilory, Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack

Peter Wall Smith:

Alice Walker’s Meridian tells the story of an African American establishing her own identity while participating in the Civil Rights movement and navigating white progressive liberalism. In this novel, Walker suggests that personal agency and social justice can represent two sides of the same coin. In The Street, the first novel by an African American woman to sell one million copies, Ann Petry reveals how poverty, discrimination, and injustice force a black single mother to make desperate and uncharacteristic decisions. Charles Chesnutt’s account of a populist white supremacist uprising—itself based on historical events—and the resistance against it by the African American community in The Marrow of Tradition seem especially relevant to the social and political climate in the United States today. With the assault of Rodney King and the Los Angeles Riots in its recent history, Charles Burnett’s 1994 film The Glass Shield charges the Los Angeles Police Department with mistreatment of African Americans both inside and outside their ranks. To some degree, the film’s allegations seem both validated and complicated by the 1997 revelation of the Rampart scandal, which uncovered widespread corruption in the LAPD. Finally, in Lovely and Amazing, Nicole Holofcener demonstrates the negative psychological impact of microaggressions on a young African American girl adopted by a white family. Significantly, though, its final scenes also capture the girl’s thirty-something stepsister’s sudden awareness of her own prejudice and a subsequent shift in attitude. In this way, the film stands as a reminder that racism can be overcome and an encouragement to keep pressing toward its extinction.

Editor Tracy Bealer:

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Vol. 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Editor Natalie Leppard:

Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward

Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde

The Known World, Edward P. Jones

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Kindred, Octavia Butler

Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, Questlove

We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo

Anything by Helen Oyeyemi

Everything by Gloria Naylor

Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

The Book of Harlan, Bernice L. McFadden