Black Media & Black Culture

LDF Recommendations

Black is beautiful. From the literature detailing our history and experience in illuminating prose, to the music that gives our experiences a bass line, creatives working across all media build and foster Black culture through art. LDF staff share their recommendations for the books, movies, music, podcasts, and TV shows that reflect LDF’s mission to “defend, educate, empower.”

Books

NonFiction

Nikole Hannah Jones

A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism that offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

Tomiko Brown-Nagin

The first major biography of LDF attorney Constance Baker Motley provides an eye-opening account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th Century.

Gilbert King

Thurgood Marshall was on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown v. Board of Education before the US Supreme Court when he became embroiled in a case that threatened to change the course of the civil rights movement and to cost him his life.

Clint Smith

A tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.

Cicely Tyson

Entertainment legend and activist Cicely Tyson recalls her extraordinary life and the moments that shaped her seven-decade career.

Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

Writer and performer Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey Lamar share anecdotes about everyday experiences of racism.

1619

Fiction

Robert Jones Jr.

A novel about the forbidden union between two young men in bondage on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.

Lalita Tademy

The novel chronicles four generations of strong, determined black women as they battle injustice to unite their family and forge success on their own terms.

N.K. Jemisin

At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in a novel about power, oppression, and revolution.

Edwidge Danticat

Examining the lives of ordinary Haitians, particularly those struggling to survive under the brutal Duvalier regime, Danticat illuminates the distance between people’s desires and the stifling reality of their lives.

Nancy Johnson

The novel captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.

Naima Coster

A multi-layered drama about the long-lasting consequences of crime and the effects of school integration on two different families.

Young Readers

By Yamile Saied Mendez

When a girl is asked where she’s from—where she’s really from—none of her answers seems to be the right one.

By Ruby Bridges

The true story of an extraordinary little girl who became the first Black person to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans.

By Jerry Craft

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

By Matt de la Peña; Illustrated by Christian Robinson

A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things.

By Suzanne Slade; Illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison

The inspiring true story of mathematician Katherine Johnson–made famous by the award-winning film Hidden Figures–who counted and computed her way to NASA and helped put a man on the moon.

By Virginia Hamilton; Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon

The fantasy tale of people in bondage who possessed ancient magic that enabled them to fly away to freedom and of those who did not have the opportunity to “fly” away, who remained in bondage with only their imaginations to set them free.

By Kacen Callendar

Felix Love, a transgender teen, grapples with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time. Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

By Akwaeke Emezi

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, she must reconsider what she’s been told.

Television

HBO

A half-hour sketch comedy with performances by a core cast of Black women, including executive producer and writer Robin Thede.

ABC

A workplace comedy in which a group of teachers is brought together in a Philadelphia public school.

CW

When a star high school football player from South Central is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High School, two separate worlds collide.

ABC

A family man struggles to gain a sense of cultural identity while raising his kids in a predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighborhood.

Netflix

The drama series from Colin Kaepernick and Ava DuVernay explores Kaepernick’s high school years and the experiences that led him to become an activist.

Cartoon Network

The animated series follows a young boy, Craig, and his two friends, Kelsey and JP, as they go on adventures within a world of untamed, kid-dominated wilderness in the creek.

Netflix

Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield traces the delicious, moving throughlines from Africa to Texas in this docuseries.

NBC

Julia Baker is a young African-American woman working as a nurse. She is also a widow (her husband died in Vietnam) trying to raise a young son alone.

FX

Set in the New York of the late 80s and early 90s, this is a story of ball culture and the gay and trans community, the raging AIDS crisis and capitalism.

HBO

Late-night series from artist Terence Nance featuring a mix of vérité documentary, musical performances, surrealist melodrama and humorous animation as a stream-of-consciousness response to the contemporary American mediascape.

Netflix

The inspiring story of trailblazing Black entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker who built a haircare empire that made her America’s first female self-made millionaire.

Netflix

Tensions run high between Black citizens and white police officers in Jersey City when a Black teenager is critically injured by a police officer.

Film

Podcasts

Nikole Hannah Jones for the New York Times

A dramatic expansion of a groundbreaking work of journalism that offers a profoundly revealing vision of the American past and present.

The podcast tackles the subject of race with empathy and humor. The hosts explore how race affects every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, food and everything in between.

Each week, Sam Sanders interviews people in the culture who deserve your attention. Plus weekly wraps of the news with other journalists.

Shanetta McDonald

Host and Black creative Shanetta McDonald has relatable conversations with women of color, sharing their stories and journeys throughout life, with an emphasis on improving overall wellness in mental, physical and spiritual health.

Thurgood Marshall Institute

A quarterly series about the evolution of, and continued need for, racial justice advocacy. Brought to you by The Thurgood Marshall Institute at LDF.

Farai Chideya

Created and hosted by award-winning journalist Farai Chideya, Our Body Politic is unapologetically centered on reporting on not just how women of color experience the major political events of today, but how they’re impacting those very issues.

African American Policy Forum

A podcast hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory.

Award-winning journalist LZ Granderson draws from his own lived experience as a gay, Black father to host thought-provoking, poignant and engaging conversations with some of the most influential and inspirational people in the LGBTQ+ community.

A show about being Black in America with stories that explore what it means to hold truth to power and this country to its promises. Told by people who have the most at stake.

Hosts Leila Day and Hana Baba start conversations and provide professionally-reported stories about what it means to be Black and how we talk about blackness.

The podcast reviews films with leading actors of color and analyzes them in the context of race and Hollywood’s diversity issues.

Music

Freedom

John Batiste

We Got Love

Teyana Taylor

Everything is Everything

Lauryn Hill

Move on Up

Curtis Mayfield

U Will Know

Black Men United

Walking

Mary Mary

Sir Duke

Stevie Wonder

Brown Skin Girl

Beyoncé

Brotha

Angie Stone

Don't Touch My Hair

Solange

My Petition

Jill Scott

Freedom

Joi

Fight for You

H.E.R.

Hold on (Change Is Comin')

Sounds of Blackness

Lovely Day

Bill Withers

Harvest for the World

The Isley Brothers

Lockdown

Anderson.Paak

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