Libcom.org's reading guide on the American black power movement of the 1960s-70s and its key groups as well as some readings on the civil rights movement.
General recommended reading
- Black Revolutionaries in the US: Communist Interventions, vol. 2 - Huge collections following the discussions and debates of black radicals in 20th Century America.
- Black particularity reconsidered - Adolph L. Reed Jr. - In-depth analysis of how the management of black dissent by the black American middle-class/professional elite helped restructure capitalism to its own advantage.
- A disgrace before God: Striking black sanitation workers vs. black officialdom in 1977 Atlanta - Case study of the betrayal of the African American working class by the Black political class brought to power by the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960's.
- Black Autonomy: Civil Rights, the Panthers and Today - Interview with two anarchist ex-Black Panthers about their involvement in the civil rights movement, the Black Panther Party and the relevance of anarchism to black struggle.
- The Deacons for Defense: armed resistance and the Civil Rights Movement - Lance Hill - Book about the Deacons for Defense and Justice, a clandestine armed self-defense organization that operated in relatively rural areas in the 1960s. Includes discussion on pacifist ideology in the civil rights movement.
- Negroes with guns - Robert F. Williams - First-hand account of the attempts by an NAACP chapter to arm itself against police and racist groups in South Carolina.
- Radio Free Dixie - Timothy Tyson - Biography of Robert F. Williams which gets into his conflicts with the NAACP and other civil rights leadership including Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Martin Luther King, Jr - Martin Glaberman - Short article about MLK's legacy of non-violent tactics.
- Reflection on Doctor King - Lorenzo Komboa Ervin - Article on the distortion of MLK's legacy as a tool for disarming the black working class as well as propping self-serving community leaders.
Maoist-influenced black power organisation, whose combination of community projects and militant image made it arguably the most important of all the Black Power groups at the time. It would eventually become subject to some of the heaviest repression in post-World War 2 America.
- The Black Panther Party for Self Defense - Short and clearly written introductory history of the Black Panthers.
- James Carr, the Black Panthers and all that - A look at the life of James Carr, a life-long gang member turned Black Panther who developed an anti-Leninist revolutionary criticism of the BPP and would eventually be assassinated in mysterious circumstances. The article, written as an afterword for his book, Bad, gives an excellent critical history of the Panthers and their relationship to the prison struggles and wider social movements of the 1960s.
- War against the Panthers: A study of repression in America - Huey P Newton - Analysis of the development and growth of the BPP, as well as the state's response to them, from leader Huey Newton.
- Seize the time: The story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton - Bobby Seale - Book on the BPP and Huey Newton, written by a co-founder of the party while he was in prison.
- Explaining the demise of the Black Panther Party: The role of internal factors - An anti-authoritarian analysis of the Black Panthers' demise.
- "No one ever asks what a man's role in the revolution is": Gender and sexual politics in the Black Panther Party 1966-1971 - Article by Trace Matthews on the gender politics of the Black Panthers in the context of competing ideologies, namely Black cultural nationalism and White feminism.
- Lumpenization: A critical error of The Black Panther Party - Essay arguing that the BPP's fetishisation of the lumpen class and their failure to reform the more criminal/ anti-social elements, as the Nation of Islam did, contributed to the party's demise.
Black workers' organisation formed in 1969, based largely in the car factories of Detroit, it was formed of different Revolutionary Union Movements (RUMs) such as DRUM (based at the Dodge Main factory), FRUM (based at Ford) and others, they took on both management and United Autoworkers Union in fighting against racism and for better conditions on the shopfloor.
- Detroit: I do mind dying - A study in urban revolution - Excellent book on the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and League of Revolutionary Black Workers. One of the most important books on the black liberation movement and American workers' struggles, includes interviews and accounts from participants. Highly recommended.
- 1968-1971: The League of Revolutionary Black Workers - A.Muhammad Ahmad - Short history of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. The article includes other information about the car industry, race and struggle from 1910 onwards.
- DRUM: vanguard of the black revolution - Luke Tripp - A short history of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement, detailing their beginnings as well as their opposition to the United Auto Workers union, written in 1969 by a founding member.
- Black cats, white cats, wildcats: Auto workers in Detroit, 1969 - Martin Glaberman - Introductory article and account of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and its activity in Detroit in the 1960s and 70s.
- The Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement - Martin Glaberman - Analysis on the formation of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement.
- Dying from the inside: The decline of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers - Ernie Allen - A key account of the organizational issues of the LRBW taken from the book They Should Have Served That Cup of Coffee: Seven Radicals Remember the 60s.
Islamic black separatist organisation which was one of the major actors in the early civil rights and black power movement.
- A proletarian critique of the Nation of Islam - Melancholic Troglodytes - Pamphlet looking at the Nation Of Islam's history and evolution, the way it exploits its membership and its promotion of anti-working class, sexist, homophobic and racist ideology.
- The transgression of a laborer: Malcom X in the wilderness of America - Ferruccio Gambino - Analysis of Malcolm X's development, from prison and the factory to the Nation of Islam, and his deviation from the traditional state-allocated path of ethnic leadership.
- The murder of Fred Hampton - Documentary depicting the brutal murder of Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, killed in his bed by FBI agents. This film provides an excellent snapshot of the kind of repression faced by the Panthers.
- Finally got the news - Documentary about the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Includes interviews with members, supporters and opponents, the film documents their attempts to build a radical black workers' organisation to take on both management and the union and fight to improve conditions for all workers, black and white.
- Eyes on the prize - 14-hour documentary series telling the definitive story of the civil rights era from the point of view of the ordinary people whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life.
- Black and Proud: The Soul of the Black Panther Era, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 - Collection of soul songs from the era of the height of black power and with black power content.
- Radio Free Dixie - Excerpts from Robert F. Williams' radio show, Radio Free Dixie broadcast from exile in Havana in the 1960s. Includes speeches and some music, showing some of the cultural life of the movement.
- X - Spike Lee's biographical film about Malcolm X, covering his life from his time as a petty criminal, his political awakening in prison and eventual assassination. Starring Denzel Washington.
- Panther - Film by Mario Van Peebles about the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, focusing largely on the government's COINTELPRO programme of repression.