BU Today feature: Celebrate Black History Month with These Books, Films, Albums, and Podcasts
Celebrate Black History Month with These Books, Films, Albums, and Podcasts
Suggestions from African American & Black Diaspora Studies faculty for what to watch, read, and listen to
This article was first published in BU Today on January 31, 2023. By African American & Black Diaspora Studies faculty and affiliates
Each year since 1976, the United States has designated February as Black History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans and Black history. Originally launched in 1926 as a weeklong event timed to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14), it was expanded to a monthlong observance during the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. In making the announcement, President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Today, Black History Month is observed not only in the United States, but in Canada, and more recently, in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which oversees an annual festival, chose “Black Resistance” as this year’s theme.
To help kick off our coverage of Black History Month, BU Today reached out to faculty in, or affiliated with, the African American & Black Diaspora Studies (AFAMBDS) program and asked them to put together a list of books, podcasts, films, and TV shows that “represent our interests, tastes, and concerns at this particular moment, or at the very least, what’s on our minds as we approach February,” in the words of Louis Chude-Sokei, George and Joyce Wein Chair in African American & Black Diaspora Studies and a professor of English in the College of Arts & Sciences.
Do the Right thing
Recommended by Rachel Edwards (CAS’19), African American & Black Diaspora Studies administrator and AFAMBDS alum
Spike Lee’s classic 1989 film Do the Right Thing presents a powerful human depiction of how summer heat can catalyze already boiling racial tension to run over. Solidifying the film as a must-watch even years later, DTRT simultaneously calls to mind past race riots (1919 Red Summer and the “Long, Hot Summer” of 1967) while unknowingly previewing a future one. More than 30 years after DTRT‘s debut, Spike Lee’s 2020 short film 3 Brothers juxtaposes a scene from the earlier film with footage of the murders of Eric Garner and George Floyd, asking the question: Will history stop repeating itself?
Batea by the Colombian band Bejuco
Recommended by Michael Birenbaum-Quintero, College of Fine Arts associate professor of music and chair of musicology and ethnomusicology, and an AFAMBDS affiliate
The album Batea by the Colombian band Bejuco is a vital contribution to this list. They play a modern, Afrobeat-infused version of traditional Afro-Colombian music from their hometown of Tumaco on the Pacific coast. Here’s the album on Spotify. To whet your appetite, here’s the video for their song “Batea.”
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