Library Services


Celebrating Black History Month

28 October 2022

We have compiled a list of your book recommendations to celebrate Black History Month, which in the UK takes place in October.

Main Library staircase, close up, decorated with names and titles of literature

The theme of Black History Month this year is Time for change: Action not words. The organisers have said

"To get to a better tomorrow, we can’t just focus on the past. The past is in the past. We can acknowledge and learn from it, but to improve the future, we need action, not words. We need to come together around a shared common goal to achieve a better world for everyone".

We asked you to recommend books that celebrate Black History in all its diversity and will educate and empower us all to make the world a better place. 

How many have you read? Share your own recommendations through the online form or on social media:

Your recommendations

Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo

"Evaristo offers multiple accounts of Black and brown women and non-binary peoples interconnecting lives and histories. The short stories within the story, span across generations, countries, and racialised and gendered experiences."

Recommended by: Omena Osivwemu (UCL Student) and separately on social media.

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin

“This book tempts the most tenacious of hearts. Though a turbulent juxtaposition is explored and entertained, it is far more remarkable in its pursuance of absent feelings that demands far more empathy from the reader than our dear protagonist demands of his contemporaries.”

Recommended by: George Charles (UCL Staff)

The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker's Notebook by James Boggs

“In The American Revolution, Boggs presents a new critical way of thinking, based upon his experiences as a black autoworker in Detroit. Commenting on the decline of industrial America, that he was witnessing first-hand, he analyses the effect it will have on the contemporary subjectivity. Given it was written in 1963, it is amazing how well he predicts some of the social and technical changes that would occur later in the 20th Century, particularly around automation. His proposed theory of the class of 'outsiders', made up of black Americans, women and the un/underemployed as being the new revolutionary subject, was beyond its time, and surely one that is relevant for any social scientist today to consider.”

Recommended by: Matthew Lee (UCL Staff)

Indignant Heart: A Black Worker's Journal - Charles Denby Jr. 

Indignant Heart offers a vibrant history of black life and struggle in the USA during the 20th Century. Written under the pseudonym Charles Denby Jr. by Matthew Ward, a black autoworker and dissident activist, the book recounts over 40 years of social history through his own eyes. The book goes from his childhood and adolescence in the deep South, living in a family of sharecroppers, to emigrating to Detroit to work in the major car factories, like many other of his contemporaries. Through covering fights, strikes, riots, as well as the misery, monotony and joy of his everyday life, it gives an adept analysis of racism, capitalism and struggle. 

Recommended by: Matthew Lee (UCL Staff)         

Desire Discrimination Determination - Black Champions in Cycling by Marlon Lee Moncrieffe 

Black Champions in Cycling is a thorough and thoughtful exploration of the rich and often overlooked history of Black cyclists. A world-leading expert on the history and lives of Black cycling champions, former elite racer and academic Dr Marlon Moncrieffe combines his own experience of elite-level racing with that of several contributors.

Also recommended on social media

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in UCL Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science

Photo of Steps to Progress exhibit in UCL Main Library
Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science are dedicated to supporting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for our users and staff. We have produced a Library Equality, Diversity and Inclusion implementation plan, enhanced CPD opportunities for staff, and developed a set of race equality pledges for the department.

More information

Find out more how UCL is celebrating Black History Month this year.