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

AFRO-CARIBBEAN. COLOURED. ETHNIC MINORITY. IMMIGRANT. BAME. URBAN. WOKE. FAM. BLACK. These are just some of the terms being wrestled with in Black, Listed, an exploration of twenty-first century Black identity told through a list of insults, insights and everything in between. Taking a panoramic look at global Black history and contemporary culture, this book investigates the ways in which Black communities (and individuals) have been represented, oppressed, mimicked, celebrated and othered.

Part autobiographical musing, part pop culture vivisection, it’s a comprehensive attempt to make sense of blackness from the vantage point … More

An oral history of the UK’s soundsystem culture, featuring interviews with Dubmaster Dennis Bovell, Skream, Youth, Norman Jay, Adrian Sherwood, Mala, & others. In the years following the arrival of the Windrush generation, the UK’s soundsystem culture would become the most important influence on contemporary pop music since rock n roll. Pumped through towering, home-built speakers, often directly onto the thronged streets of events like the Notting Hill Carnival, the pulsating bass lines of reggae, dub, rave, jungle, trip hop, dubstep, & grime have shaped the worlds of several generations of British youth culture but have often been overlooked by historians obsessed with swinging London, punk, & Britpop.

This oral history, consisting of new interviews conducted by respected dance music writer Joe Muggs, and accompanied by dramatic portraits … More

Born on the 12 January 1931, Jamaican tenor saxophonist, and one of the founding members of The Skatalites, Roland Alphonso. In 1948 he left school to join Eric Deans’ orchestra and soon passed through other bands in the hotel circuit and first recorded as a member of Stanley Motta’s group in 1952, going on to record frequently as a session musician. In 1956 he first recorded for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, although these early recordings were lost before they were mastered.

When the Skatalites disbanded by August 1965, Alphonso formed the Soul Brothers (with Johnny “Dizzy” Moore, and Jackie Mittoo) to … More