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Black history month 

The Social Justice Team of Lowell UCC is delighted to share with you some of our favorite resources by Black creators that highlight the Black experiences and Black contributions to American history and culture.

Television

 

Finding Your Roots (2012-Present) PBS . recommended by Pastor Shannon

Created and produced by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. this program is my absolute favorite. Ask me if you want specific episode recommendations!

 

High on the Hog : How African American Cuisine Transformed America (2021) Netflix . recommended by Christina DeKoekkoek & Eric Gable

A documentary series that looks at the roots of soul food by traveling back to Benin to explore the connections between traditional African food and what we now think of as modern soul food. 

 

Hip Hop Evolution (2016) Netflix . recommended by Christina DeKoekkoek & Eric Gable

This documentary series explores the history of Hip Hop and its impact on American culture.

 

The Jeffersons (1975-1985) Pluto TV or Amazon Video . recommended by Jess Brown
Did you know that actress Roxie Roker (who played Helen Willis) is the mother of rocker Lenny Kravitz? Sherman Hemsley, who starred in The Jeffersons with Isabel Sanford, was a comedic genius whose supporting role on All in the Family led to the creation of this spinoff. 

 

Podcasts

 

NPR’s Code Switch . recommended by Laurie McKee

Hosted by journalists of color, they explore how race affects every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, food and everything in between. This podcast makes all of us part of the conversation.

 

Black Cowboys (available on iHeart Radio or your favorite streaming service) . recommended by Christina DeKoekkoek & Eric Gable 

This podcast shares the stories of Black cowboys who settled the American West looking for freedom. Despite the John Wayne stereotype, one in four cowboys was Black!

 

NPR’s Throughline: Episode The Real Black Panthers (2021) .
recommended by Christina DeKoekkoek & Eric Gable 

This episode looks at the targeting of the Black Panthers by the FBI and the murder of Fred Hampton.

Music

We’ve created a playlist by some of our favorite Black musical artists! Enjoy them at one of these streaming services:

 

Black History Month 2024 on Spotify

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/53PpKOTQe14xgkmv5PTem9?si=d9306c71bf4e4f6b 

 

Black History Month 2024 on Amazon Music

https://music.amazon.com/user-playlists/18633e0f2d254f95bc9ac5f32e5c33f5sune?ref=dm_sh_k8fbOtLUA6gZy3ruMq79Rfviu 

 

Instagram

 

Black Liturgies . recommended by Pastor Shannon

I follow this Instagram account for daily prayers and meditations focused on justice and healing by Cole Arthur Riley: https://www.instagram.com/blackliturgies/?hl=en 

 

Films

 

Harriet (2019) PG-13, Netflix and Other Streaming Sites . recommended by Jess Brown

The story of Harriet Tubman’s pioneering work leading people to freedom on the Underground Railroad is illustrated in this fictional account of her life.

 

Hidden Figures (2016) PG, Disney+ and Other Streaming Sites .
recommended by Dawn Benjamin

This film offers a fictionalized depiction of the true story of the women who worked as “human computers” at NASA.  

 

Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce (2019) Not Rated, Netflix .
recommended by Christina DeKoekkoek & Eric Gable

This documentary film is a celebration of Beyonce’s career, Historically Black College traditions, and an homage to Black American culture (and a fantastic musical performance!).

 

I Am Not Your Negro (2016), PG-13 Various Streaming Services .
recommended by Roland Hoksbergen

This great documentary features Black novelist James Baldwin, and is about how he processes the assassinations of his friends, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. 
 

Just Mercy (2019) PG-13, Peacock and Other Streaming Sites  .
recommended by Dawn Benjamin
This film shares a bit about attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama which works for criminal justice reform by seeking to get people wrongly convicted for crimes off of death row. Fun fact: a friend (and former intern) of Pastor Shannon’s is now an attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative!

 

Origin (2023) PG-13, In theaters now . recommended by Laurie McKee

Written and directed by Ava DuVernay, who funded this film with her own money because she wanted folks to see it before this year's election. It is a biographical drama based on the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, which describes racism in the United States as a manifestation of a caste system. DuVernay launched Seat 16, as an initiative to gift 16-year-olds with tickets to see the film.

 

The Color Purple (1985) PG-13, Max, Prime and Other Streaming Sites .
recommended by Jess Brown

This classic film, based on a book by Alice Walker, was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. 

 

The Hate U Give (2018) PG-13, Disney+, Hulu, Prime and Other Streaming Sites . recommended by Roland Hoksbergen

After avoiding the movie The Hate U Give because the title turned me off, I finally watched it because so many people told me how good it was. Turns out they were right. The title is a reference to rapper Tupac Shakur and a tattoo he wore. The story about a young girl processing and responding to the police killing of her friend is excellent, powerful, and real.

 

Books

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama . recommended by Erica Shier

The former First Lady of the United States shares the story of her early years in Chicago, studying at Princeton and Harvard, her career as an attorney to becoming a wife, mother, and national public figure. While she was raised in the United Methodist Church, Michelle joined the UCC when she married her husband.

 

Dear White Peacemakers by Osheta Moore .
recommended by Christina DeKoekoek & Eric Gable 

A call to transform white shame, fragility, and saviorism into the work of anti-racism peacemaking. I found this book very helpful as a step to “what next” after having my eyes opened to the systematic racism we face.
 

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith . recommended by Pastor Shannon

The writer of this book reckons with the history of slavery in America through visits to plantations, islands, a prison, a cemetery, even New York City, to uncover the histories we often neglect to recall. I read this book while traveling last year and absolutely loved it (as you will see if you borrow my copy!).

 

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi . recommended by Erica Shier 

This short book has become the textbook for anti-racism in the United States. Pastor Shannon has a copy in her office library if you’d like to borrow it. 

 

I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown .
recommended by Christina DeKoekkoek & Eric Gable 

This is a memoir about what it means to have black dignity in a world made for whiteness. The writer used to live in Grand Rapids, and worked at Calvin University when she wrote this.  

 

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable .
recommended by Pastor Shannon

I hold a special place in my heart for Malcolm X, who grew up in Lansing and Mason, Michigan. His practice of Islam, and prophetic voice for justice, make him an intimidating figure to many but he was actually soft-spoken, preferring to be behind cameras instead of in front of them. My love for him only grew after reading this book.   

 

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas . recommended by Erica Shier

This young adult novel was written by the same author who wrote The Hate U Give. It is set in the same fictional neighborhood and tells the story of hip-hop through the story of young Bri. 

 

Roots by Alex Haley . recommended by Pastor Shannon

I read this book at eleven years-old and have not been the same since I read it. The fictional story of Kunta Kinte and his descendants who experienced the tragedy of slavery in America is a profound one that I think everyone should read at some point in their lives.

 

The ABC’s of Black History by Lauren Semmer Illustrated by Rio Cortez . recommended by Laurie McKee

This children’s book, which can be found in our Social Justice library, highlights culture, people and events. It has an impressive explanation of terms and figures for those that want to know more.

 

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya . recommended by Erica Shier

This is the powerful story of a girl who found asylum in the United States after war tore apart her home in Rwanda. 
 

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together 

by Heather McGhee (One World, 2021) .
recommended by Roland Hoksbergen & Erica Shier

From Roland: One of my favorite books is the one a few of us studied a couple years ago. From public parks to housing to education to health care and so much more, McGhee explains how racism hurts everyone and how we could do so much better. From Erica: A scholarly treatise on the cost every human being pays for racism and a call to envision and work toward a better future together.

 

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson . recommended by Erica Shier 

This book began my journey into understanding the way that slavery and Jim Crow have directly and systematically affected the way that black Americans have been treated in our nation and the ways in which systemic racism still affects them today.

 

This Here Flesh by Cole Arthur Riley . recommended by Pastor Shannon

Weaving in her family’s history as she shares her own reflections on mystical faith serves as a lovely reminder of the ways we have been shaped by our histories, and the power we have been gifted to shape our present.   

 

This Poison Heart & This Wicked Fate by Kaylynn Bayron .
recommended by Erica Shier

A YA fantasy book series written by a Black author about queer, Black women. It’s so enjoyable.

Black History Month 2024 on Spotify
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/53PpKOTQe14xgkmv5PTem9?si=d9306c71bf4e4f6b  


Black History Month 2024 on Amazon Music
https://music.amazon.com/user-playlists/18633e0f2d254f95bc9ac5f32e5c33f5sune?ref=dm_sh_k8fbOtLUA6gZy3ruMq79Rfviu 

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