From Malcolm X to Black Lives Matter: 10 books & videos on Black Liberation

The black movement at the forefront of the current struggles in the US has its roots in the most advanced working class leadership to have arisen within the imperialist states since World War II – the black leaders of the 1960s, who fought against the US system of racial oppression and opposed its war on Vietnam. The ten books and videos below provide an introduction to that struggle for black liberation and the politics of its leaders, including Malcolm X, Angela Davis and the Black Panther Party.

Malcolm X – By Any Means Necessary
This is a recording of the full speech given by Malcolm X directly after his house was firebombed on 21 February 1965, one week before his assassination.
Watch the video here.

13th explores how a loophole in the 13th Amendment, which conferred freedom to the slaves after the US Civil War, allowed for the continued use of slave labour to rebuild the economy of the South through the application of racist vagrancy laws and convict leasing.
Watch the video here.

By Any Means Necessary traces the evolution of Malcolm X’s ideas in his own words through his speeches. These are important for understanding the development of the ideas, including the identification of the struggle of black people in the USA with the global struggle of the overwhelming majority of humanity against imperialism, that makes him the most advanced expression of black leadership of the twentieth century.

Women, Race & Class is one of those rare books on history that place women at the centre of the understanding of the society that we have come to inhabit. From the institutionalisation of the rape of slaves by slave masters as a method of disciplining the slave population as a whole, to the origins of the organised women’s movement as a struggle for equality within the movement for abolition, to a discussion of racism within the women’s suffrage movement and beyond, this book interrelates gender and racial oppression with class struggle from the point of view of the black woman.

Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers chronicles the early years of the Black Panther Party for Self Defence at Merritt Community College. It was formed in response to the use of high intensity policing and police brutality, and responded by mounting armed patrols to police the police.
Watch the video here.

American Apartheid
Based on historical analysis and quantitative research, this book outlines the reality of de facto residential segregation which exists throughout the United States fifty years after the formal ending of Jim Crow. Together with ‘The New Jim Crow’, and ‘The Condemnation of Blackness’ it enables a detailed understanding of the embedded, systemic oppression endured by black people in the United States.

The New Jim Crow
Subtitled ‘mass incarceration in the age of colour-blindness’, this book outlines one of the major ways that the oppression of black people in the United States has been continued after emancipation, reconstruction, Jim Crow, and on an expanded basis since the Reagan Presidency. The ‘prison-industrial complex’ is the reason that the United States has five per cent of the world’s population yet twenty five per cent of the world’s prisoners, and the fact that black men comprise 6.5 per cent of the US population, but 42 per cent of the nation’s prisoners.

The History of Crime Fighting in America is a speech given by Prof. Khalil Gibral Muhammed, at the time of the polarising 2016 Presidential race. Prof. Muhammed addressed head on the centrality of the question of the criminalisation of black America as the raison d’etre of high intensity, militarised policing.
Watch the video here.

The Condemnation of Blackness
The book explores the early attempts by social and behavioural science to present arguments that distinguished African Americans uniquely as a culturally inferior race with innate tendencies toward self-destructive behaviour, criminality, drunkenness, licentiousness and immorality. These arguments, published at the turn of the twentieth century, sought to use statistical studies to justify the increasing movement towards the establishment of Jim Crow in the South, and led to the criminalisation of black people, and hence to de facto segregation in the northern and western cities, high intensity policing in black communities, and mass incarceration.

Eyes on the Prize
Although very old now, this is arguably the best and most comprehensive visual documentary history of the struggle for civil rights that has ever been made. In fourteen one-hour episodes, plus a directors’ interview and an interview with Rosa Parks. Covering all the major events and personalities.
Watch the video here.