• Top 15 Best Black History Books in the UK 2021 1
  • Top 15 Best Black History Books in the UK 2021 2
  • Top 15 Best Black History Books in the UK 2021 3
  • Top 15 Best Black History Books in the UK 2021 4
  • Top 15 Best Black History Books in the UK 2021 5

Top 15 Best Black History Books in the UK 2021

The civil rights movement had seen another peak in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd sparked worldwide outrage and protests over the mistreatment of Black citizens under the hands of the law. This tragic event has inspired many of us to seek out more information on systematic oppression, racial inequality and perhaps address our own biases.


The study of Black history is vital in understanding race relations and working together towards a fairer future free from marginalisation, violence and prejudice. In this article, we have selected fifteen excellent Black history books available in the UK. Unsure where to start? We've included a buying guide to help you choose the best read for you and all of our books are available on Amazon and eBay. 

  • Last updated: 23-04-2021
  • 598 views
Table of Contents

The Importance of Black History

The Importance of Black History

There is no world history without Black history. Despite centuries of oppression, violence and hatred, Black communities worldwide have continued to thrive, struggling against systemic racism and internalised prejudice to produce some of today's most celebrated writers, thinkers and activists. 


Many books aim to encourage the celebration of Black history through achievements, cultures and traditions, refusing to only show the sadness and suffering. Unfortunately, many authors have little choice but to talk about race, since racism in its various forms remains prevalent everywhere, as much today as ever.

How to Choose a Black History Book - Buying Guide

There are so many fantastic books out there it can be tough to select just one. Perhaps you're well-versed in Black history, or are looking for a place to start. Either way, our guide is here to make the decision easier. 

Consider the Format of the Book You Want to Read

What type of Black history book should you choose? Some are collections of essays, others are autobiographical works and some focus on a longer narrative surrounding one particular area. In this section we'll discuss each type. 

Speeches and Collected Essays Reflect the Experiences of a Particular Era

Speeches and Collected Essays Reflect the Experiences of a Particular Era

A great way to learn about the issues of a particular time period is to read the speeches and collected essays of activists and respected thinkers on the issues of racism and the fight for Black liberation. These are often emotionally stirring, encouraging the reader to think more deeply about the wider questions raised.


Collections of essays or compendiums of articles and pamphlets from a period of the Black rights movement allow you to hear from many voices on one particular issue, evoking the mood of a given era. Further, the concise format of essays means you can digest more information in shorter and more manageable chunks.

Autobiographies and Memoirs Share Lived Experience

Autobiographies and Memoirs Share Lived Experience

Another important element of learning about Black history is reading about the lived experiences of Black and mixed-race people in the UK and across the world. By choosing a book which blends Black history with autobiographical elements, you gain insight into an individual's personal journey through an inherently racist system. 


This can be helpful in making issues of race and prejudice more tangible for readers, and deeply moving or relatable for those who have shared similar lived experiences.

Novels Provide a Compelling Way to Get Familiar With History

Novels Provide a Compelling Way to Get Familiar With History

Although they aren't 'history books' in the traditional sense, novels allow us to absorb the mood and sentiments of a particular time period, while also providing the thrill of a well-paced narrative.


If you find it hard to get enthusiastic about reading, a novel could be a good choice as the intrigue of a good book may mean you pick it up more often. Novels also provide an effective way of introducing teens to Black history.


If you find yourself particularly interested in a theme or topic raised by a novel, you might feel inspired to seek out non-fiction books for a more fact-based understanding of the event and era. 

Many Black History Books Investigate Particular Moments or Experiences in History

Many Black History Books Investigate Particular Moments or Experiences in History

Some non-fiction Black History books take a more general approach, while still focusing on a certain issue, time period or part of the world. 


These types of books are often filled with data and examples that underline their central message. They can be extremely informative for anyone looking to learn more in regards to how specific events, laws and socio-economic systems have impacted and shaped Black lives and experiences.

Illustrative Works and Picture Books Are Great for Children and Visual Learners

Illustrative Works and Picture Books Are Great for Children and Visual Learners

Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words. To help make information more memorable for children, consider a Black history book with illustrations.


Photo books are another appealing form of history book, as they invite the viewer to experience the zeitgeist of a particular time through vignettes and snapshots. 


Suitable for readers of all ages, these can be a valuable way for visual learners to explore topics in an engaging way. They can also serve as a wonderful gift, mixing beautiful art with essential history.

Think About Which Area of the World You Want to Read About

Consider whether you'd like to read a book that focuses on a certain part of the world or gives a broader, global view of Black history. You may have a particular interest in the USA, hear stories from African countries or want to read about Black life closer to home.

Books Centred on the USA Explore Slavery, Civil Rights and Celebrations of Black Culture

Books Centred on the USA Explore Slavery, Civil Rights and Celebrations of Black Culture

The murder of George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25th 2020 has sparked the biggest wave of the civil rights movement in history, which has in turn inspired many readers to seek out books on the stories of Black lives in the USA. 


Books focused on this part of the world range from tomes on slavery and its abolition, to the Jim Crow laws which encouraged racial segregation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


You may even be interested to learn more about the civil rights movement of the 1960s or look to inspirational Black figures in American history from Nobel Prize Winners to Olympians and beloved celebrities. 

Learn About Race Issues Close to Home With Books On Black Britain

Learn About Race Issues Close to Home With Books On Black Britain

The UK of course has a large and vibrant Black population, and there are many books by British authors which discuss racial and generational issues in communities closer to home.


Learning about British Black history can help you to gain a better understanding of the particular experiences and issues faced within the UK. Some books even provide information and resources on how to get involved in local initiatives and steps you can take in your day to day life to stamp out discrimination.

Books Exploring African Ancestry Celebrate Culture and Traditions

Books Exploring African Ancestry Celebrate Culture and Traditions

Some of the books on our list delve into the traditions and customs of pre-colonial Africa. These titles explore how certain traditions have evolved, been lost or changed over time, and their importance within the African diaspora.


These stories are valuable in gaining a greater knowledge of African ancestry. By learning about the vast cultures and accomplishments of African peoples throughout history, these books can help reaffirm a sense of Black joy and pride.

Check the Publication Date, As Books Reflect Different Time Periods

Check the Publication Date, As Books Reflect Different Time Periods

Before you buy, take a look at the date the book was published. Books tend to reflect the sensibilities of the era in which they are printed, capturing the energy and language of the time period. Although the information may not be up to date, older publications allow for comparison and perspective on how times have evolved.


Books published more recently will still address topics from the past, but will approach them from a viewpoint that feels more current and relevant to the racial issues we see across the world today.

eReaders Save on Space, Whilst Audio Books Let You Listen on the Go

eReaders Save on Space, Whilst Audio Books Let You Listen on the Go

Finally, consider whether you'd like to try an audiobook or a version for eReader. While some people love the feel of a book, others prefer an eBook to keep all their reads in one handy place


For those with busy schedules looking to learn on the go, with an audiobook you can multi-task while you listen. Audiobooks will let you discover Black history while at the gym or on the daily commute, something that is especially enjoyable if the narrator has a passionate delivery! 

Top 15 Best Black History Books in the UK

For our ranking, we've tried to include a diverse range of books that explore the adversity Black communities have faced along with countless magnificent achievements. Here are our picks for the top 15 best Black history books in the UK.

15

David OlusogaBlack and British: A Forgotten History

£8.99

FormatStandard non-fiction
Geographic FocusUK
TopicThe role of Black people in Britain throughout history
Publication Year2016
eReaderYes
AudiobookYes
14

Chantal Regnault and Stuart BakerVoguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York 1989 - 92

£17.55

FormatPhotobook, standard non-fiction
Geographic FocusUSA
TopicThe House Ballroom scene
Publication Year2011
eReaderNo
AudiobookNo
13

Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan and Margaret PeacockHere to Stay, Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology

£15.89

FormatCollected essays, pamphlets and articles
Geographic FocusUK
TopicThe struggle for racial justice in Britain
Publication Year2019
eReaderYes
AudiobookNo
12

Yaa GyasiHomegoing

£6.68

FormatFiction
Geographic FocusGhana and the USA
TopicThe impact of slavery
Publication Year2016
eReaderYes
AudiobookYes
11

Angela DavisWomen, Race and Class

£7.59

FormatCollected essays
Geographic FocusUSA, global
TopicIntersection of race with class and feminism
Publication Year1981
eReaderYes
AudiobookNo
10

Nathan Irvin HugginsThe Harlem Renaissance

£13.00

FormatStandard non-fiction
Geographical FocusUSA
TopicThe Harlem Renaissance
Publication Year1971
eReaderYes
AudiobookNo
9

Johnny PittsAfropean: Notes from Black Europe

£7.99

FormatStandard non-fiction
Geographic FocusEurope
TopicBlack life and marginalisation
Publication Year2019
eReaderYes
AudiobookYes
8

Colson WhiteheadThe Underground Railroad

£5.99

FormatFiction
Geographical FocusUSA
TopicEscape from slavery in pre-civil war North America
Publication Year2016
eReaderYes
AudiobookYes
7

Bobby Seale and Stephen ShamesPower to the People: The World of the Black Panthers

£19.95

FormatStandard non-fiction
Geographical FocusUSA
TopicThe Black Panther Party
Publication Year2016
eReaderYes
AudiobookNo
6
FormatFiction
Geographical FocusUK
TopicExperience of the Windrush generation in post WW2 London
Publication Year2004
eReaderYes
AudiobookYes
5

Martin Luther King JuniorTestament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King

£25.99

FormatEssays, writings and speeches
Geographic FocusUSA
TopicCivil rights
Publication Year1986
eReaderYes
AudiobookNo
4

Emma DabiriDon't Touch My Hair

£7.59

FormatNon-fiction, autobiographical
Geographic FocusIreland, UK, USA and Africa
TopicBlack hair styling and its connections to race, gender, politics, maths and philosophy
Publication Year2019
eReaderYes
AudiobookYes
3

Dick GregoryDefining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies

£14.38

FormatStandard non-fiction
Geographical FocusGlobal, USA
TopicThe African American experience
Publication Year2017
eReaderNo
AudiobookYes
2

Reni Eddo-LodgeWhy I'm No Longer Talking to White People About

£7.00

FormatStandard non-fiction
Geographic FocusUK
TopicSystemic racism in the UK
Publication Year2017
eReaderYes
AudiobookYes
1

AkalaNatives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

£5.99

FormatNon-fiction with an autobiographical element
Geographic FocusUK
TopicRace and class in the UK
Publication Year2018
eReaderYes
AudiobookYes

Compare the Best Black History Books

Image
1
Akala Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire 1

Akala

2
Reni Eddo-Lodge Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About  1

Reni Eddo-Lodge

3
Dick Gregory Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies 1

Dick Gregory

4
Emma Dabiri Don't Touch My Hair 1

Emma Dabiri

5
Martin Luther King Junior Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King 1

Martin Luther King Junior

6
Andrea Levy Small Island 1

Andrea Levy

7
Bobby Seale and Stephen Shames Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers 1

Bobby Seale and Stephen Shames

8
Colson Whitehead The Underground Railroad 1

Colson Whitehead

9
Johnny Pitts Afropean: Notes from Black Europe 1

Johnny Pitts

10
Nathan Irvin Huggins The Harlem Renaissance 1

Nathan Irvin Huggins

11
Angela Davis Women, Race and Class 1

Angela Davis

12
Yaa Gyasi Homegoing 1

Yaa Gyasi

13
Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan and Margaret Peacock Here to Stay, Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology 1

Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan and Margaret Peacock

14
Chantal Regnault and Stuart Baker Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York 1989 - 92 1

Chantal Regnault and Stuart Baker

15
David Olusoga Black and British: A Forgotten History  1

David Olusoga

Name

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About

Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies

Don't Touch My Hair

Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King

Small Island

Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers

The Underground Railroad

Afropean: Notes from Black Europe

The Harlem Renaissance

Women, Race and Class

Homegoing

Here to Stay, Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology

Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York 1989 - 92

Black and British: A Forgotten History

Features

A Historical and Political Tale from a UK Rapper and Poet

Systemic Racism in the UK From the Slave Trade to Today

Exploring the African American Experience With Humour and Wit

A Fascinating History Told Through Black Hair Styling

The Speeches, Writings and Interviews of MLK

The Novel Behind the Hit Play About UK Life for Caribbean Families

A Guide to the Controversial Black Panther Party

The Award-Winning Story of One Woman's Fight for Freedom

Collected Stories of Europeans of African Descent

A Lively History of One of Black Culture's Most Vibrant Eras

A Vital Exploration of the Crossover Between Racism, Gender and Class

A Warm and Enlightening Tale of Seven Generations

Black British History Told Through Pamphlets and Articles

Madonna Did Not Invent Voguing

An Unflinching Look into the Entwined History of Black and White Lives

Price£5.99£7.00£14.38£7.59£25.99£5.99£19.95£5.99£7.99£13.00£7.59£6.68£15.89£17.55£8.99
FormatNon-fiction with an autobiographical element Standard non-fictionStandard non-fictionNon-fiction, autobiographical Essays, writings and speeches FictionStandard non-fictionFictionStandard non-fictionStandard non-fictionCollected essaysFictionCollected essays, pamphlets and articlesPhotobook, standard non-fictionStandard non-fiction
Geographic FocusUKUKGlobal, USAIreland, UK, USA and AfricaUSAUKUSAUSAEuropeUSAUSA, globalGhana and the USAUKUSAUK
TopicRace and class in the UKSystemic racism in the UKThe African American experienceBlack hair styling and its connections to race, gender, politics, maths and philosophyCivil rights Experience of the Windrush generation in post WW2 LondonThe Black Panther PartyEscape from slavery in pre-civil war North AmericaBlack life and marginalisationThe Harlem Renaissance Intersection of race with class and feminism The impact of slaveryThe struggle for racial justice in BritainThe House Ballroom sceneThe role of Black people in Britain throughout history
Publication Year201820172017201919862004201620162019197119812016201920112016
eReaderYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
AudiobookYesYesYes YesNoYesNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoYes
Link

Looking for More Educational Reads?

Looking for More Educational Reads?

If your favourite way to learn is through reading, we have some other articles we think you're going to love. Whether it's reference books, language guides or books on important topics you can read with your kids, here are some great ideas to help you see the world from a new perspective!

Summary

Understanding the struggles Black people and communities have endured historically, and continue to face today, is a vital lesson regardless of race or background. We hope you will find these books valuable for expanding your perspective on racial inequality, as well as celebrating the sensational achievements of Black communities in all walks of life.

Author: Annie Hopkins

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  • Top 10 Best Books to Learn Korean in the UK 2021
    Top 10 Best Books to Learn Korean in the UK 2021
    An'nyeonghaseyo! (Hello!) Learning a new language is always exciting, and can open doors to a whole new world. Nowadays, teaching yourself Korean can be much easier than you think. With more self-learning books available than ever, you can go at your own pace and choose the materials that suit you best, be that a Hangul alphabet guide or a good book on grammar. It may be tempting to buy every Korean book and give them all a go, but that's probably not realistic! So, we've ranked the 10 best titles to buy on Amazon and eBay, including Korea Made Simple and Talk To Me In Korean. Whether you're an eager beginner or in need of some inspiration, we can motivate you! Junbihalgeyo? Gachi ga ja! (Are you ready? Let's go!)
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