Black Lives Matter Books: An Introduction

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Though it may seem like Black Lives Matter has only recently become a national phenomena, the reality is that it began long before Trayvon Martin was killed, for example. This list details exactly what has caused the movement to gain so much media attention today. This list takes a look at the first ten years leading up to today’s movement.

The movement began in 2005 when police officers in New York City brutally beat and sodomized an innocent Black man named Abner Louima. Louima was in so much pain that he begged the officer to kill him. He said: “Kill me, just kill me.” Ironically, under the same guise of “safety,” it was one of the officers who had, in fact, harassed Louima. The officers had based their desire to arrest the man on his “suspicion of selling drugs” – an assertion that was without merit – and the officers then decided to arrest Louima and take him down to the precinct. Once there, the officers violently beat the man. The beating put Louima in a hospital for a year.

This was just one of the many “peaceful protests” led by people of color in the last ten years. And while many have been working tirelessly since the beginning of the movement to get justice for wrongs done to Black people and a restoration of equal rights, very little has changed. Looking at the statistics today still shows a fairly bleak picture for the Black community. While many of these statistics may come as a surprise to readers who have only become familiar with the Black Lives Matter movement in the last few years, as the leaders of the movement continue to cry out for change, we must be ready to hear them. We must be ready to take action to do whatever we can to help the people in this fight.

Black People Have Always Mattered 

Black Lives Matter has its beginnings in 1877, when it was the Black communities who came to the assistance of the carpetbaggers, scalawags, and freed slaves who were trying to govern the Deep South after the Civil War. This was a time when the Ku Klux Klan was still active and violence against the African-American community was a daily occurrence. Because the Black community fought for their rights, and stood by the federal army during the Reconstruction period, over the years, the “kluxers” went from being “knights” to being the derisive “Ku Klux.”

Black Lives Matter Too

Even over the last 25 years, the Black community has continued to stay the course in efforts to make America better – specifically for those who have historically been treated as an afterthought or an inconvenience.

In 2012, the LGBT community collaborated with the Black community, specifically Philadelphia’s NAACP chapter, and the Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Caucus, in holding a 911 march and vigil for Trayvon Martin in Philadelphia, PA. Speakers for the event included Dr. James C. Harris, who was identified as the co-founder and first state president of the National Association of Black Lawyers; Fran Bishop, the executive director of the Black AIDS Institute; Eleanor Holmes Norton and Vince Fenerty, Philadelphia NAACP officials; and the Rev. Rodney Sadler, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

This was not the first time the Black community has shown it cares for LGBT rights. Black women openly demonstrated and protested in New York for Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who were beaten when they walked into “gay power” rally held in New York City. Also, Black people were some of the earliest proponents of the “gay rights” movement, including Black preacher and nightclub owner Dewitt Clinton Poole, and writer Carl Wittman, who were presenting at the Democratic National convention against banning gays from the Democratic Party in 1972.

In 1994, the Congressional Black Caucus spoke and wrote to the US Secretary of State, asking that the US ban the use of land mines. This mission helped save the lives of thousands of innocent victims of land mines over the next twenty years.

In 2003, the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to President George W. Bush, urging him to support the Arab Peace Initiative as a means to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This would be an important step towards re-starting the peace process, but President Bush never acknowledged the letter or even had it delivered to him.

Black Lives Matter Today

Black Lives Matter is an extension of the ongoing struggle for humanity that has been fighting against an unfair social order, since the earliest days of US history.

In 2007, during a sit-in at General Motors, Black factory workers (UAW Local 815) demanded to be placed on the assembly line. The point of the sit-in was to show that black workers are capable of doing the job, as well as any other workers at the plant. Such a move would follow up on promises made by UAW leaders during the auto bailout, when the new labor contract stated that black workers would be given a priority consideration for all new positions. The workers were also calling attention to the fact that out of the 22,000 jobs created by the bailout, only 900 were for black workers. The rest of the jobs went to white workers.

In 2015, Black Lives Matter fought against the biased government and paid their own money to take over a building to have people of color teach other people of color how to fight back against a system that does not care about them.

In January of 2016, Black Lives Matter activists fought against the government’s legalized terrorism by shutting down I­-5, an interstate highway that runs through the West Coast and Canada.

Black Lives Matter Is Here To Stay

Today and tomorrow, Black Lives Matter activists will continue to fight against a society that does not want to see them progress. They will do so by using whatever technology is available to them in their fight for equality, just like activists have always done. This includes being open and honest about the issues they are facing and getting media attention through any means possible.

Timaya’s Perfect Plan by Veronica Hood

This product was recommended by Veronica Hood from ISTAYMAD

I am suggesting Timaya’s Perfect Plan (book) because this masterpiece is geared towards building/maintaining self-confidence in young readers ALL over the world. During this sensitive time that we are currently experiencing, it is VERY imperative that we instill in our young people to have a plan that will help them navigate through life successfully. In closing anything that we do we have to have the confidence and belief that we can do it. I want to thank you so much in advance for choosing this book to be featured. In closing always remember TODAY is a great day to MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This product was recommended by Stacie May from Lucky Watcher

This is the story of a high schooler who lives two very different lives. One, in the poor neighborhood where she’s from and the second is where she attends school- a prep school. Spoiler alert: She witnesses her best friend get killed at the hands of a cop. Her friend was unarmed and not doing anything wrong. That is the beginning of protests and riots. Starr is the only one that knows what happened that night. What she says could endanger her life.

Meeting Faith by Faith Adiele

This product was recommended by Michael Hammelburger from The Bottom Line Group

Finding inner peace amidst all the anxiety and upheaval brought about by the recent events can seem to be impossible. However, Faith Adiele’s memoir about her experiences in a convent in Thailand will inspire readers to look into their insights and celebrate diversity.

Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins

This product was recommended by Jason Panda from b condoms

While it empowering, the book eloquently goes into how black feminism is often said to be overlooked in overall feminism movements. There’s a reason it has it’s own category. It pulls from thoughts and words from activists such as Angela Davis. Don’t let the history and progression of black women be forgotten. This book is necessary for a better and united movement.

Nathaniel English in Leaders of the Revolution by Michelle Person

This product was recommended by Michelle Person from Just Like Me Books

Nathaniel English in Leaders of the Revolution is definitely a must-read book for kids. It gives a realistic and relatable account of what it means to protest injustice and why it’s important to make a stand.

Michelle Person is a passionate educator with 20 years of experience in urban education. While searching for books for her youngest daughter she was disappointed by her inability to find diverse, multicultural characters that her daughter, as well as the students she serves, could identify with, she began writing as a way to fill that void as well as capture the unique relationship between a father and his daughter. Michelle founded Just Like Me Books in response to that void. Michelle has written 5 books including the #1 best seller Nathaniel English in Leaders of the Revolution.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley

This product was recommended by Yasir Nawaz from PureVPN

There are few other individuals from the 20th century that personify the word “change” as Malcolm X. The book chronicles the transformation of the womanizing Malcolm “Detroit Red” Little into the fierily articulate el-Hajj Malik al-Shabbaz. This book deals with important questions related to race relations and how Malcolm’s extraordinary story can help us understand the past and the future of Black struggle in the US.

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis

This product was recommended by Yasir Nawaz from PureVPN

Angela Davis had already become a prominent face of African-American struggle for racial equality by the time this book arrived. This collection of essays, speeches, and interviews expose the reader to the often-ignored pages of African struggle in the US. It explores how these past injustices paved way for the current state of African-Americans and more importantly, how modern racism has become systematic to its very core putting African-Americans at a disadvantage straight from their childhood.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

This product was recommended by Yasir Nawaz from PureVPN

If we were to summarize Mandela’s struggle in one word, it would be “resilience”. Resilience that spanned for 27 years in a prison. Madiba’s autobiography is different as it does not aim to highlight Madiba’s life as much as it highlights his commitment to the freedom for his brethren. Madiba discusses all his thoughts, his doubts, his fears, and his convictions that helped him achieve the goals that he had set for himself as a young man. Often a bit too emotional, the book gives lessons in unity as it sheds light on Madiba’s lesser known characteristics, such as him learning Afrikaner in prison to be able to communicate with the white guards better.

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