Illuminating her inner journey growing up mixed-race in Britain, Esua Jane Goldsmith’s unique memoir exposes the isolation & ambiguities that often come with being ‘an only’. Raised in 1950s South London & Norfolk with a white, working-class family, Esua’s education in racial politics was immediate & personal. From Britain & Scandinavia to Italy and Tanzania, she tackled inequality wherever she saw it, establishing an inspiring legacy in the Women’s lib & Black Power movements.

Plagued by questions of her heritage and the inability to locate all pieces of herself, she embarks on a journey … More

Since the 1980s, austerity, gentrification and structural racism have wreaked havoc on inner-city communities, widening inequality and entrenching poverty. In Terraformed, Joy White offers an insider ethnography of Forest Gate – a neighbourhood in Newham, east London – analysing how these issues affect the black youth of today.

Connecting the dots between music, politics and the built environment, it centres the lived experiences of black youth who have … More

Bass player extraordinaire Charles Mingus, who died in 1979, is one of the essential composers in the history of jazz, and Beneath the Underdog, his celebrated, wild, funny, demonic, anguished, shocking and profoundly moving memoir, is the greatest autobiography ever written by a jazz musician. It tells of his God-haunted childhood in Watts during the 1920s and 1930s; his outcast adolescent years; his apprenticeship, not only with jazzmen but also with pimps, hookers, junkies, and hoodlums; and his golden years in New York City with such legendary figures as Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie.

  Here is Mingus in his own words, from shabby roadhouses to fabulous estates, from the psychiatric wards of Bellevue … More

Both devastating & funny, The Lonely Londoners is an unforgettable account of immigrant experience – & one of the great 20th-century London novels. At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry ‘Sir Galahad’ Oliver & shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold & foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo?

But the irrepressible newcomer cannot be cast down. He and all the other lonely new Londoners – from shiftless Cap … More

Homecoming draws on over a hundred first-hand interviews, archival recordings & memoirs by the women & men who came to Britain from the West Indies between the late 1940s& the early 1960s. In their own words, we witness the transition from the optimism of the first post-war arrivals to the race riots of the late 1950s. We hear from nurses in Manchester; bus drivers in Bristol; seamstresses in Birmingham; teachers in Croydon; dockers in Cardiff; inter-racial lovers in High Wycombe, & Carnival Queens in Leeds.

These are stories of hope and regret, of triumphs and challenges, brimming with humour, anger and wisdom. Together, they reveal … More

Robert Johnson is the subject of the most famous myth about the blues: he allegedly sold his soul at the crossroads in exchange for his incredible talent, and this deal led to his death at age 27. But the actual story of his life remains unknown save for a few inaccurate anecdotes. Up Jumped the Devil is the result of over 50 years of research. Gayle Dean Wardlow has been interviewing people who knew Robert Johnson since the early 1960s, and he was the person who discovered Johnson’s death certificate in 1967.

As a result, this book not only destroys every myth that ever surrounded Johnson, but also tells a human story … More

Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art and his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 80s when punks & Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness & the National Front, Benjamin’s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations & on the dance floor.

His mission was to take poetry everywhere, and to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books. His poetry … More

Born OTD in 1925, American Muslim minister & human rights activist who was a popular figure during the civil rights movement, Malcolm Little, AKA Malcolm X. His remarkable autobiography, completed just before his murder in 1965, ranges from Omaha & Michigan to Harlem & Mecca, & tells of a young, disenfranchised man whose descent into drug addition, robbery & prison was only reversed by his belief in the rights struggle for black America, & his conversion to the Nation of Islam. Celebrated & vilified the world over for his courageous but bitter fight to gain for millions of black men & women the equality & respect denied them by their white neighbours, Malcolm X inspired as many people in the United States as he caused to fear him.

They called him the ‘angriest black man in America’ . . . Not only is this an enormously important record … More

Afropean. Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity … A continent of Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German Reggae & Moorish castles. Yes, all this was part of Europe too … With my brown skin & my British passport – still a ticket into mainland Europe at the time of writing – I set out in search of the Afropeans, on a cold October morning. Afropean is an on-the-ground documentary of areas where Europeans of African descent are juggling their multiple allegiances & forging new identities.

Here is an alternative map of the continent, taking the reader to places like Cova Da Moura, the Cape Verdean … More

Born OTD in 1932, Jamaican-born British Marxist sociologist, cultural theorist & political activist, Stuart Hall. ‘Sometimes I feel I was the last colonial’ This is the story, in his own words, of the extraordinary life of Stuart Hall: writer, thinker & one of the leading intellectual lights of his age. Growing up in a middle-class family in 1930s Jamaica, then still a British colony, Hall found himself caught between two worlds: the stiflingly respectable middle class in Kingston, who, in their habits & ambitions, measured themselves against the white planter elite; & working-class & peasant Jamaica, neglected & grindingly poor, though rich in culture, music and history.

But as colonial rule was challenged, things began to change in Jamaica and across the world. When, in 1951, a … More