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February 28. 2021

A Black History of Protest

Our third reading list for Black History Month.

We’ve arrived at the end of Black History Month—although our readers know that Boston Review is committed to published about Black freedom struggles every month of the year. Before we flip the calendar, though, we’re bringing you the third installment in our February Black history reading series.

Today we are looking at all things protest—from small acts of resistance that haven’t made the news to the large ones that dominate history books, and from the parliaments of Jamaica and other Third World states to the playing fields of America’s favorite pastime. The events in today’s essays may vary in size, scope, and location, but all document Black struggles in their many varieties; against petrochemical companies, mass incarceration, corrupt landlords, and more. And of course, this is not to forget the uprisings of last year, to which we have devoted a whole section on our website. 

In addition, we’ve highlighted our podcast, A People’s Anthology. Originally launched in 2019 as a benefit for members, we recently made it available to all Boston Review readers, as part of our commitment to no paywalls. A reading series of radical essays and speeches, season one highlights six short texts related to Black liberation struggles in the U.S., with many drawing on the urban rebellions of the 1960s and 1970s.

Introduced and explained by historians and researchers, the texts are then read by a range of poets, scholars, and spoken word artists. Among the voices are familiar Boston Review contributors such as Nikhil Pal Singh and Joshua Bennett, as well as noted writers Jackie Wang and Asad Haider.  You can listen on SpotifySoundcloudApple, or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Rosie Gillies, Boston Review
Our members-only podcast is now available to all! A reading series of radical essays and speeches, season one highlights six short texts related to Black liberation struggles in the U.S., from Claudia Jones to the Combahee River Collective.
Randal Maurice Jelks

Long before the Civil War, black abolitionists shared the consensus that violence would be necessary to end slavery.

Garrett Felber
Prison and police abolition were key to the thinking of many midcentury civil rights activists. Understanding why can help us ask for change in our own time.
Rosalyn Pelles, Jordan T. Camp
On November 3, 1979, members of the KKK and American Nazi Party murdered five labor organizers in broad daylight. Forty years later, massacre survivor Rosalyn Pelles talks about that day, and why organized workers are such a threat to the powerful.
Peter Dreier
Robin DiAngelo’s best-selling book sells a misguided view of baseball integration to her readers and corporate clients.
Adom Getachew

In the 1970s, a bloc of Third World states forced the United Nations to take seriously the unequal distribution of global wealth. Could their example inspire a new generation?

Robin D. G. Kelley
As a culture of protest took hold in 1960s LA, communities of color also prioritized a radical tradition of care, emphasizing mutual aid, community control, and the transformative power of art and politics.
Chad Kautzer

Self-defense is not merely an individual right; it is collective political resistance.

Robin McDowell
In Revilletown, which was founded by freed slaves, a petrochemical company has seized ownership of an ancestral cemetery. But an attack on the dead is an attack on the living.
Sekou Franklin
Half a century on, we need to recommit ourselves to correcting the conditions that undergirded the civil unrest of the 1960s. 
Elizabeth Hinton

A proper understanding of urban rebellion depends on our ability to interpret it not as a wave of criminality, but as political violence.

Our weekly themed Reading Lists compile the best of Boston Review’s archive. Sign up for our newsletters to get them straight to your inbox before they appear online.

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