February is Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, here is a selection of new and important resources in our collection, including print books, electronic books, journal articles, databases, and more. For assistance in accessing or using these or any resources in the Laurier Library collection, contact us through the “Ask Us” chat window and contact info in the right side-bar on this page, or visit us in person! (There are more on last year’s list, also called “February is Black History Month”.)

Collections and Reference

Africa Portal: Provided by Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). Recommended by Matt Thomas, eResources Librarian. This resource provides access to a collection of documents such as research reports, occasional papers, policy briefs, and a directory of experts on issues critical to the future of Africa. This is available online to everyone.

African Studies - Oxford Bibliographies: Published by Oxford University Press with Paul Tiyambe Zeleza as Editor in Chief. Recommended by Matt Thomas, eResources Librarian. Oxford Bibliographies provide lists of textbooks, books and book chapters, journals, related organizations, and some introductory material on each topic. Since the literature on African Studies is diverse and scattered among various sources, topics within this subject are an attempt to identify the most significant themes and areas of study. This is available online to Laurier staff, students and faculty.

Black Drama: Provided by Alexander Street Press. Recommended by Matt Thomas, eResources Librarian. Full text of more than a thousand plays from around the world, along with production information, selected photographs, and playbills. This is available online to Laurier staff, students and faculty.

Black Thought and Culture: Provided by Alexander Street Press. Recommended by Matt Thomas, eResources Librarian. Full-text non-fiction works by leading African-Americans. Includes books, essays, journal articles, speeches, pamphlets, letters and interviews. This is available online to Laurier staff, students and faculty.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography: Blacks: Provided by the University of Toronto and Université Laval. Recommended by Matt Thomas, eResources Librarian. This is available online to Laurier staff, students and faculty.

Books, Print and Electronic

Black berry, sweet juice : on being black and white in Canada: written by Lwrence Hill and published by Harper Collins. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this book is available in print in our collection. Hill examines his childhood in suburban Ontario, growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood as a mixed-race child of human rights-activist parents. His own family history is presented alongside the histories of other mix-race families in Canada, who were interviewed by Hill.

Bluesprint : black British Columbian literature and orature: edited by Wayde Compton and published by Arsenal Pulp Press. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this print book is available in the University of Waterloo's collection as well as that of the University of Guelph. This is the first anthology to recognise the rich literary history of Black writers in B.C. Poet and essayist Wayde Compton presents a significant array of work that crosses decades and genres, and includes the work of includes, among others, the work of: Rebecca Gibbs, Nora Hendrix (grandmother to Jimi), Austin Phillips, Rosemary Brown, Yvonne Brown, Hope Anderson, Lorena Gale, Mercedes Baines, David Nandi Odhiambo, Michelle La Flamme, Shane Book, Peter Hudson, and Rascalz. Contributors engage issues surrounding race, community, gender, and genre.

Chronicles : early works: written by Dionne Brand and published by our own Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this print book is available in our collection. A republication of three early volumes of Brand’s poetry, Chronicles represents the trajectory of a number of the poet’s recurring themes in their early manifestation, including history and memory, place and home, urban geography, and citizenship and belonging. Brand is a versatile writer of poetry, novels, stories, and non-fiction and an important voice in Canadian letters.

Colour, class and the Victorians : English attitudes to the Negro in the mid-nineteenth century: written by Laurier Professor Emeritus, Douglas Lorimer, and published by Leicester University Press. Recommended by Greg Sennema, this print book is available in our collection.

Dead woman pickney: a memoir of childhood in Jamaica: written by Yvonne Shorter Brown and published by our own Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this ebook is available to Laurier staff, students and faculty. This work tells the story of growing up in Jamaica during the years 1943 to 1965, when the author’s coming of age parallels the political stages of Jamaica’s moving from being the richest Crown colony of Great Britain to an independent nation within the British Commonwealth of Nations. At the heart of the memoir is Brown’s quest to understand the absence of her mother and her mother’s people from her own life. The narrative presents the haunting memories of the author’s childhood, along with her astonishment at persistent local and global racial marginalization. Diasporic identities, colonialism, racism, and the lasting effects of slavery and Western imperialism around the world are central to this work.

Dear Current Occupant: A Memoir: written by Chelene Knight and published by Book*Hug. Recommended by Meredith Fischer, this ebook available online to Laurier staff, students and faculty.

Deep roots : how slavery still shapes southern politics: written by Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell, and Maya Sen, and published by Princeton University Press. This print book is available in our collection.

Elijah of Buxton: written by Christopher Paul Curtis and published by Scholastic Press. Recommended by Sharon Whittle, this kids book is available in print in the University of Guelph collection. This is the story of a young boy who is the first free born child in a community of former slaves. Published in 2007, it is a deeply moving story of freedom, prejudice, understanding, hope and liberation. While written as a children’s book and told from Elijah’s youthful and lively perspective, it is an important read for all. The timing of this book’s release, just shortly before the inauguration of Barack Obama could not have been more perfect. Watching President Obama finish with “let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations” I could not help but say aloud, “Look at that sky.” Read this book.

Fifteen dogs : an apologue: written by André Alexis and published by Coach House Books. Recommended by Meredith Fischer, this print book is available in our collection.

"Go to school, you're a little black boy" : the honourable Lincoln M. Alexander : a memoir: created by Lincoln Alexander and Herb Shoveller. Recommended by Christina Kerr, this print book is available in our collection.

Má-Ka: Diasporic Juks. Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent: edited by Debbie Douglas, Courtnay McFarlane, Makeda Silvera, and Douglas Stewart, and publishe by Sister Vision. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this print book is available in the University of Guelph's collection. This is a relatively early anthology of literature by LGBTQ writers in Canada of African descent, one worthy of attention for its variety of voices as well as for its significant introduction, which situates the collection in time and place.

Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature and Directions Home: Approaches to African-Canadian Literature: both written by George Elliott Clarke and published by University of Toronto Press. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, these ebooks are available to Laurier staff, students and faculty. These two volumes, together, represent the impressive contribution of Clarke to the body of public and scholarly literary criticism in Canada, with particular focus on African-Canadian literary production. Clarke’s volumes include groundbreaking examinations of early African-Canadian literary history alongside his critical readings of contemporary literature in the field. In light of his longstanding scholarly and writerly commitment to literature and African-Canadian literature more particularly, these collections are necessary reading for scholars and students and are equally an invitation to general readers to recognise the sizeable contributions of African-Canadian writers to Canada’s literature and literary heritage.

Policing Black lives : state violence in Canada from slavery to the present: written by Robyn Maynard and published by Fernwood. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this print book is available in our collection. This book has made an immediate and vital contribution to the work of social justice activists and scholars, as it provides the necessary history and contemporary analysis of the realities of anti-Black state violence in Canada, a country long—and erroneously—assumed to be a haven—the ‘Promised Land’—for people of colour fleeing repressive and racist states beyond our borders. Robyn Maynard examines this country’s colonial past, its history of Black enslavement, and contemporary examples of state violence, which extends beyond the popularly recognised phenomenon of police violence toward other forms of systemic aggression and discrimination.

Rude : contemporary Black Canadian cultural criticism: editedby Rinaldo Walcott and published by Insomniac Press. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this book is available in print in our collection. This is a collection of essays by Black Canadian scholars about aspects of Black Canadian communities and culture.

Soucouyant: written by David Chariandy and published by Arsenal Pulp Press. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this print book is available in our collection. This is David Chariandy’s first novel, which is set in Scarborough, as is his second novel, Brother (M&S, 2018). Soucouyant is the telling of a difficult time in the narrator’s relationship with his mother, when the narrator as a young adult is ready to move away from his family, but with that separation comes the pain of coping with loss of various kinds. The narrator is haunted by his mother, in a sense, and is further haunted by the stories of her past, as well as by parts of his own childhood. Brother, Chariandy’s second novel, continues his interest in family relations and builds on a number of themes of the first novel, including haunting memories, family and home, and growing up in 1970s southern Ontario as a first-generation Canadian of colour.

This spot of ground : Spiritual Baptists in Toronto: written by Laurier scholar Carol Duncan and published by our own Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this ebook is available to Laurier staff, students and faculty. This is the first in-depth examination of an African-Caribbean religion in the context of contemporary migration to Canada. Toronto is home to Canada's largest black population, a significant portion of which comprises Caribbean migrants and their descendants. The development of the Spiritual Baptist religion in Canada has been shaped by the immigration experiences of church members, the large majority of whom are women. Duncan examines the ways in which religious experiences have mediated the members’ experiences of migration and everyday life in Canada.

Voodoo Hypothesis: Poems: written by Canisia Lubrin and published by Buckrider Books. Recommended by Meredith Fischer, this print book is available in the University of Guelph's collection.

What We All Long For: written by Dionne Brand and published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada. Recommended by Meredith Fischer, this print book is available in our collection.

Dr. Edith Vane and the hares of Crawley Hall: written by Suzette Mayr and published by Coach House Books. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this ebook is available to Laurier staff, students and faculty. Poet and novelist Suzette Mayr combines the genres of satire, gothic novel, and campus novel to humorous and pointed effect, as she unfolds the story of Dr. Edith Vane, literary scholar, who struggles to publish her first scholarly book and launch her teaching career in the face of a dystopian administration and paranormal goings-on, including inexplicable illnesses and death and extraordinarily wild behaviour among the animals around the campus.

Other Resources

Canadiana Suite: by the Oscar Peterson Trio. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this compact disc is available in the Kitchener Public Library collection. This is a celebrated studio recording from the 1960s, with Canadian Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown (American) on double bass, and Ed Thigpen (American) on drums, and is Peterson’s tribute, as composer and performer, to his home country. The recording includes the following tracks, which present the range and sensitivity of the trio to the range and scope of its subject: "Ballad to the East"; “Laurentide Waltz"; “Place St. Henri"; "Hogtown Blues"; "Blues of the Prairies"; "Wheatland"; "March Past"; "Land of the Misty Giants.”

"The Economic Contribution by the Negro to America" in Papers of the American Negro Academy: written by Arthur A. Schomberg. Recommended by Marian Toldeo Candelaria, this paper is available online to everyone.

From Emancipation to Resistance: Colour, Class and Colonialism, 1870-1914: written by Laurier Professor Emeritus, Douglas Lorimer, and hosted by Adam Matthew Digital. Recommended by Greg Sennema, this essay is available online to Laurier staff, students and faculty.

Harry Jerome: The Fastest Man on Earth: written and directed by Ileana Pietrobruno, and produced by Selwyn Jacob and the NFB. Recommended by Christina Kerr, this 10 minute film is available to Laurier staff, students and faculty. Never, ever give up. Canadian Harry Jerome overcame racism to reach the heights of track-and-field success. When an injury threatened to end his career, Jerome trained diligently and went on to achieve one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. Made especially for elementary and middle-school classes, this film features two young students who guide us through Jerome’s life, the challenges he faced and his legacy—which includes the Harry Jerome International Track Classic, an event that brings together youth and adults in a celebration of track and youth fitness.

The Journey of Lesra Martin: created by Cheryl Foggo, Jacob Selwyn, and the National Film Board of Canada. Recommended by Siobhan McMenemy, this 46 minute film is available on DVD in a few university or public library collections in Ontario. Calgary filmmaker (and writer) Cheryl Foggo’s work, in film and in books, is concerned with giving voice to Black Canadians and to articulating the many challenges faced by members of Black communities in western Canada, in particular. This NFB film, directed by Foggo, engages with Lesra Martin, whose life-threatening childhood in poverty in Brooklyn, NY, and his subsequent years and career in British Columbia, is the subject of this documentary.

Kara Walker's "A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby": video produced by Ian Forster and Art21. Recommended by Suzanne Luke, this 10 minute video is available to everyone via YouTube.

The little black school house: created by Sylvia Hamilton, Kent Nason, John Brett, Joe Sealy, the CBC, the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, Maroon Films, and Moving Images Distribution. Recommended by Christina Kerr, this 1 hour video is available in our collection on DVD. This work unearths the story of the women, men, and children who studied and taught at Canada's racially segregated schools. Compelling personal stories illustrate that many of the students who attended Canada's all-Black schools look back on the experience with conflicting feelings: fondness for the dedication of their Black teachers, and outrage at being denied equal access to education, a right fundamental to democracy in Canada.

Racial integrity: a plea for the establishment of a chair of Negro history in our schools and colleges, etc.: written by Arthur Alfonso Schomburg and hosted by Hathitrust. Recommended by Marian Toledo Candelaria, this booklet is available online to everyone.

Remember Africville: created by the National Film Board of Canada. Recommended by Christina Kerr, this 35 minute film is available online to Laurier staff, students and faculty. Africville, a small black settlement, lay within the city limits of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the 1960s, the families who lived there were uprooted and their homes demolished in the name of urban renewal and integration. Now, more than twenty years later, the site of the community of Africville is a stark, under-utilized park. Former residents, their descendants and some of the decision-makers, speak out and, with the help of archival photographs and films, tell the story of that painful relocation.

Speakers for the Dead: directed by David Sutherland and Jennifer Holness and produced by Peter Starr and the NFB. Recommended by Christina Kerr, this 50 minute film is available to Laurier staff, students, and faculty. In the 1930s in rural Ontario, farmer Bill Reid buried the tombstones of a Black cemetery under a pile of broken rocks to make way for a potato patch. In the 1980s, descendants of the original settlers, Black and White, came together to restore the cemetery--but there were hidden truths no one wanted to discuss. Deep racial wounds were opened. Scenes of the cemetery excavation, interviews with residents and re-enactments--including one of a baseball game where a broken headstone is used for home plate--add to the film's emotional intensity. Meet Helen and Alan Miller, seventh-generation Black Canadians and members of the cemetery restoration committee. And Les Mackinnon, a fiery, fourth-generation Scottish Canadian who heads the movement to restore the Priceville cemetery. Speakers of the Dead reveals the turmoil stirred up by desecrated graves and underlines the hidden history of Blacks in Canada. Speakers of the Dead was produced as part of the Reel Diversity Competition for emerging filmmakers of colour. Reel Diversity is a National Film Board of Canada initiative in partnership with CBC Newsworld.

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