February is just around the corner, and with it comes the annual celebration of Black History Month (BHM). The month marks a time of honouring the legacy and stories of Black Canadians and their communities around the nation.
The McGill community takes this opportunity to engage in not just celebrations, but moments of acknowledgement and introspection on what it means to be part of a diverse community by coming together in love, support, and learning.
In anticipation of BHM, the Humanities and Social Studies Library (HSSL) has curated a virtual display, bringing from deep within our collections, titles both old and new, literary masterpieces, and contemporary podcasts. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the titles on display:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
BHM would be incomplete without an ode to Angelou’s best-selling debut memoir of growing up black in the 1930s and 1940s.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man — and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, and the ideas of great authors will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated.
With spellbinding lyricism, they tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both. A young artist and poet’s prospects at a diverse art school are threatened by a racially biased system and a tragic altercation in a gentrifying neighbourhood.
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Few hold a place in the Black feminist canon like Lorde, a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” who “dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.”
In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope.
Other notable mentions include Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, a 2016 Pulitzer Prize Finalist that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son; Nathan Harris’ The Sweetness of Water an epic whose grandeur locates humanity and love amid the most harrowing circumstances, and; Octavia Butler’s Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, which offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a generation of new readers.