Black History

There is no timeline attached to AFA’s commitment to promote economic and social justice for all workers through education and action. The following is a list compiled by using the recommendations of your MECs, Human Rights Committees, and our friends at the Larbor Heritage Foundation.

Film and Video

Amend-The Fight For America – Netflix

Will Smith hosts this multi episode look at the evolving, often lethal, fight for equal rights in America through the lens of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

The Uncomfortable Truth

When the award-winning filmmaker of “An Ordinary Hero”, Loki Mulholland, dives into the 400 year history of institutional racism in America he is confronted with the shocking reality that his family helped start it all from the very beginning.

I Am Not Your Negro

Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

Selma

A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.

At the River I Stand

This documentary recounts the two months leading to Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in 1968, coinciding with the 65-day strike of 1300 Memphis sanitation workers. The connection between economic and civil rights, debates over strategies for change and the demand for full inclusion of African Americans in American life are examined.

13th  – Netflix

An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.

500 Years Later

Crime, poor education, poverty, self hatred, incarceration, and broken homes plague people of African descent globally. Why? From the onset of the African holocaust of enslavement and colonialism, Africans are still struggling for basic freedom. Filmed in five continents, 500 Years Later is a critically acclaimed, multi award winning journey infused with the spirit and music of liberation. It chronicles the struggle of a people who have fought, and continue to fight, for the most essential human right – self determination.

Freedom Riders

The story of the Civil Rights Movement interstate busing protest campaign.

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise – PBS

Documentary with host Henry Louis Gates Jr. chronicles the triumphs, struggles and contradictions of the last fifty years in African American History.

Books and Reading

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We can Prosper Together – Heather McGhee

One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America – Richard Rothstein

A forceful argument on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods.

The Racist Origins Of “Right To Work”

This is an educational article found on the Labor Notes site. As right-to-work laws proliferate, it’s worth remembering that they originated as a means to maintain Jim Crow labor relations in the South and to beat back what was seen as a Jewish conspiracy.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Harriet Jacobs

Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs’ harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship. Jacobs writes frankly of the horrors she suffered as a slave, her eventual escape after several unsuccessful attempts, and her seven years in self-imposed exile, hiding in a coffin-like “garret” attached to her grandmother’s porch.
A rare firsthand account of a courageous woman’s determination and endurance, this inspirational story also represents a valuable historical record of the continuing battle for freedom and the preservation of family.

Go Tell It On The Mountain – James Baldwin

In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

For Jobs and Freedom – Robert H. Ziegler

Since 1865 describes African Americans struggle to obtain equal rights in the workplace and organized labor responds to their demands. Though the path proved difficult, unions gradually obtained rights for African American workers with prominent leaders at their fore. In 1925, A. Philip Randolph formed the first black union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, to fight against injustices committed by the Pullman Company, an employer of significant numbers of African Americans. 

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration- Isabele Wilkerson

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

Freedom Summer – Bruce Watson

During the sweltering summer of 1964, more than seven hundred American college students descended upon segregated, reactionary Mississippi to register black voters and educate black children. On the night of their arrival, the worst fears of a race-torn nation were realized when three young men disappeared, thought to have been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Taking readers into the heart of these remarkable months, Freedom Summer shines new light on a critical moment of  the civil rights movement in America.

In Solidarity,

Debora Sutor

AFA-CWA International Vice President