Born OTD in 1918, South African lawyer and politician, Nelson Mandela. Freedom fighter, fugitive, celebrated prisoner, president: the hero of a nation. Mandela was called a terrorist, forced into hiding, captured, threatened with the death penalty and eventually thrown into prison for 27 years, but nothing could stop him from fighting to liberate his country from the infamous sytem of apartheid, which for so many years sought to separate people by race in South Africa. A hero in the struggle, he never gave up.

Even when he was a prisoner, he worked secretly with his comrades to undermine South Africa’s oppressive government. This is … 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

In this vital re-examination of a shared history, historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean. Drawing on new genealogical research, original records, and expert testimony, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination, Elizabethan ‘blackamoors’ and the global slave-trading empire. It shows that the great industrial boom of the 19th century was built on American slavery, and that black Britons fought at Trafalgar and in the trenches of both World Wars. Black British history is woven into the cultural and economic histories of the nation.

It is not a singular history, but one that belongs to us all. Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown … 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

Born OTD in 1942, revolutionary African-American political activist who, along with Bobby Seale, co-founded the Black Panther Party, Huey P. Newton. Eloquently tracing the birth of a revolutionary, Huey P. Newton’s famous & oft-quoted autobiography is as much a manifesto as a portrait of the inner circle of America’s Black Panther Party. From Newton’s impoverished childhood to his adolescence & struggles with the system, from his role in the Black Panthers to his solitary confinement in the Alameda County Jail, Revolutionary Suicide is smart, unrepentant & thought-provoking in its portrayal of inspired radicalism.

In October 1967, one year after the founding of the Black Panther Party, Huey Newton was involved in a shooting … 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