From Roots to Black People in Britain: 10 key political texts on black consciousness

David Olusoga in The Guardian:

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (1963)

RootsWe are living through something of a Baldwin renaissance, in large part thanks to Raoul Peck’s brilliant documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Any number of Baldwin’s books might earn a place on this list, but The Fire Next Time stands out. Consisting of two essays, one addressed to Baldwin’s nephew, it is a passionate and visceral plea to black and white America. It is the only document I know of that expresses the civil rights case as eloquently as the speeches of Martin Luther King.

Discourse on Colonialism by Aimé Césaire (1950)

Published in 1955, when most of Africa was still the colonial possession of one or other of the European powers, Césaire’s masterwork argues that the European empires were, like all empires, run for the profit of the colonising powers, rather than the benefit of the colonised peoples. More controversially, Césaire hypothesised that the roots of Nazism could be found in the toxic soil of imperialism.

Roots by Alex Haley (1976)

What turns a great book into a great political book is its impact, as much as its content. Both on the page and later on the television screen, Alex Haley’s masterpiece was a phenomenon. For African-Americans, whose familial links to Africa had been severed by slavery and racism, it was a revelation. Although Haley’s methodology has been criticised, the cultural impact of Roots remains undeniable.

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