Black Authors and Filmmakers

Paolo Acob, Scarlet Schwenk, Photo Editor, Political Editor



In honor of Black History Month, we have curated a list of films and books by Black authors and filmmakers. Ranging from anti-racist reading material to fiction novels, there is an array of books to dive into according to your interests.
While Amazon may offer quick and convenient shopping with the click of a button, we urge you to support Black owned film and book shops near you.


“Such a Fun Age” Kiely Read
This gripping novel takes you through the journey of a woman in her 20’s being accused of kidnapping a child she babysits. The novel grapples with the realities of the intersecting identities of class and race in America.

“The Vanishing Half” Brit Bennett
Debuting at number one on the New York Times’ best seller list, the novel follows the story of two identical sisters dealing with the complexities of colorism in 1960’s America. Bennett illustrates the history of being white-passing in a society driven by racism.

“Queenie” Candice-Carty Williams
The story follows a Jamaican-British woman in her 20’s navigating the realities of relationships, finding herself in heartbreak after a brutal breakup. An ode to discovering yourself through your 20’s, Williams successfully conveys the intricacy embedded within, offering comfort to readers.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” Maya Angelou
A classic among book lovers, Angelou recalls her childhood in powerful poetic words detailing her traumatic experiences. This coming-of-age novel empowers young women to reclaim themselves through the strength of character and literature.

“The New Jim Crow” Michelle Alexander
Alexander details how segregation laws are rewritten in modern-day America in a more subtle form of ‘colorblindness’ disguised as the Prison Industrial Complex and the War on Drugs. A deep dive into the ways in which systematic racism prevails in America in a post civil rights era.

“Caste: The Origins of our Discontents” Isabel Wilkerson
Part of Oprah’s book club, Wilkerson illuminates the race-based caste system in America, drawing upon historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. Wilkerson goes further to explain how Nazis during the Third Reich turned to the Jim Crow Era of America to build a foundation for institutionalized racism.

“From Scratch” Tembi Locke
This story takes place between France and Italy as a young couple falls in love. The young Black woman is faced with the disapproval of her lover’s racist Italian family. Locke articulates the struggle of being Black in Europe, marrying into an Italian family.

“No Name In the Street” James Baldwin
Focusing on injustice and racism, Baldwin documents his personal experiences of his childhood in Harlem and the historical events that changed his life: the murders of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

“Mean” Myriam Gubra
Gurba’s coming-of-age novel explores the lived experience of having multiple intersecting identities through a comedic style of storytelling. Mean tackles tragic realities of trauma from sexual violence, race, and sexism in a serious fashion with a comedic literary style, uplifting her readers while taking these costly actions seriously.


FYI Press

“Dolemite Is My Name” directed by Craig Brewer, and is available on Netflix, tells the tale of Rudy Ray Moore coming up and making something for himself. Dubbed to be the “Grandfather of Rap”, Moore was known most notably through his stage name, Dolemite, in which he would act out different characters during comedy acts through rhythmic spoken words that were often explicit.
The vulgarity of his performances is what created Dolemite’s magic, they were his greatest attention-getter. Moore essentially found himself interested in capitalizing on Dolemite and creating comedy albums too, eventually creating a movie for a larger audience to experience.
Eddie Murphy is masterful in this role, the way he’s able to play such a bombastic character whilst still being able to explore that Dolemite is a character, Moore is just a black man trying to make it in America. Moore has insecurities, inner challenges, and obstacles that he must overcome if he wishes to succeed, and Murphy really delivers that.


“Judas and the Black Messiah” directed by Shaka Khan, available on HBO Max for a limited time, tells the true story of the African-American activists, the Black Panther Party, and their impact on the Illinois community.
While the film is focused on the telling of the Black Panther Party, the narrative is seen through the eyes of William O’ Neal, played by Lakeith Stanfield, who is a young African-American man who gets caught boosting cars. When caught, O’Neal’s then offered a job by the FBI to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and gain intel on chapter leader, Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya, as a form of a plea deal, which would eliminate any charges made for his actions.
Kaluuya and Stanfield are magnetic in their roles, while the entire cast is amazing, these two’s stories revolve around each other. Every action that O’Neal stirs up undercover directly impacts Hampton’s efforts, which eventually takes a toll on O’Neal as he realizes that playing undercover is not worth the hurt he is causing the party and its people.

(David Lee – Focus Features Image) (David Lee)

“BlacKkKlansman”, the 2018 Spike Lee Joint is about Ron Stallworth, played by John David Washington, who is a black police officer who was able to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.
With the help of his partner Flip Zimmerman, portrayed by Adam Driver, Stallworth was able to intercept vocally through phone calls while Zimmerman is present physically for meetings with the “organization” for rituals, practices, and meetings.
Stallworth began this investigation in the first act of the film while being racially discriminated against in his police department. When other officers would ask him for files of dead african-americans and calling the cadavers “Toads” which was a racial slur against african-american men in prison.
Washington, recently known for his roles in “Tenet” and “Malcolm and Marie”, is stunning in this film. He portrays a man who wishes to change the idea about black police officers. In doing so by infiltrating the “organization” and exposing them while being a black man. Washington was able to be in control of almost every situation he was in, especially in the final act where he, himself, was present as a security guard for an “organization” initiation.
“BlacKkKlansman” is available on hulu for streaming and amazon video for rental or purchase.

(Anthony Barboza – Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The 1989 Spike Lee Joint “Do The Right Thing”, is about the hottest day in New York City and the small community’s response to the heat. Spike Lee himself plays the main character “Mookie”, a young adult working as a pizza delivery man with a girlfriend and a son.
New York City is so alive from an eccentric radio host, which is played by young Sameul L. Jackson, to a Korean ran bodega shop, the small street of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn is filled with kids playing with broken fire hydrants, women fanning themselves sitting on their window sills, and teenagers hanging out and eating pizza.
The film seems fun in the first act until the second act comes and builds tension amongst the community when a white man drives through the neighborhood and gets wet from the broken fire hydrant. He calls the cops on the black kids playing in the street in which the police feel their time was wasted because the children caused no actual harm.
In the film’s third act, an incredibly unjust act of police brutality occurs and takes the life of a community member, in which all walks of life from the street come together to band against the police. The korean-ran liquor store, the “OG’s” sitting on the street, the drunken mayor consoling women after the distress of the incident. While the loss of the community member was horrific, the event had unified the street of Bedford-Stuyvesant creating a closer community.
The film is available for streaming on Hulu with a premium subscription or on Amazon Video for rental or purchase.

Al Pereira

“Wu-Tang: An American Saga” created in 2019 by Wu-Tang member, The RZA, and Asian-American screenwriter, Alex Tse, is a biopic series telling the story of the rap group’s assembly.
The series is focused on Bobby, aka The RZA, and how life is experienced as a African-American teen in Staten Island, New York. When his older brother is arrested at the beginning of the show, Bobby quickly has to re-adjust. Bobby is faced with the difficult transition of being a teen chasing after his dreams of making music with his friends, to becoming “man of the house” and providing for his family and generating enough funds to bail out his older brother.
Many themes are explored that are integral to the group’s creation such as loss, grief, regret, persistence, but the most prominent throughout the series would be racism and the impact on everybody’s mental health once a racial incident such as profiling and police brutality. Although, it is their persistence and admiration for hip-hop that keeps the group together, and pushes them towards creating music together.
The series currently has one season, while a second season was announced in January of 2020 and is currently in production.

Elisabetta Villa – Getty Images (Getty Images for RFF)

“Small Axe” is a series, ten years in the making, centered around London’s West Indian community, taking place between 1969 and 1982. From the director of 2013 film “12 Years A Slave”, Steven McQueen explores 5 unique stories of Black Culture averaging about an hour and a half run-time for each episode. Having 42 nominations and 9 wins currently, Small Axe’s mini-series includes some well-known actors and actresses such as John Boyega and Letitia Wright.
“Mangrove”, “Lovers Rock”, “Red, White and Blue”, “Alex Wheatle”, and “Education”, all explore different narratives of black celebration or black injustices.
Focusing on the first episode, “Mangrove”, leading with a runtime of two hours and twenty minutes, tells the story of the “Mangrove Nine”, similar to “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and the mini-series “When They See Us”, tells the story of a group of a black community struck by police brutality, forcing them into activism for equality. With Shaun Parkes as Frank Crichlow, the owner of the Mangrove, was arrested along with eight other of his friends and went through a 56 day trial.
The “Small Axe” mini-series and all its episodes are available on Amazon Video for streaming and purchase.

Amanda Edwards – Getty Images (Getty Images)

Issa Rae’s “Insecure”, which began in 2016 and is on its fifth season in 2021, tells the story of Issa and Molly and the trials and tribulations they experience living everyday as a black woman in America. While most notable for being a comedy, the series follows the two dealing with their insecurities and how the two manage to cope and grow to be a better person.
We follow Issa through her life, career, relationships, and friendships and how all intertwine and effect Issa personally. The story-telling for “Insecure” is particularly interesting especially in Issa’s narrations or when she’s speaking to herself in the mirror where we can understand where she is mentally and how she’s handling a situation.
The series has been notorious for representing modern day r&b, hip-hop, and indie black artists in a soundtrack for every season including popular names like SZA, Bryson Tiller, The Internet, Thundercat, and even Issa Rae herself.
With 24 wins and 91 nominations over the years, “Insecure” is available on HBO Max for streaming.


Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You”, which premiered in 2020, is about Arabella, a black woman living in London, England who lived her life normally. She spent time with friends, worked as a writer and had a well-developed career, until she went to a club and was sexually assaulted.
Once she was assaulted, she began to experience heart problems, short-term amnesia, and confusion which forced her to re-assess her life and cope with how she lives each day.
Coel is electric on screen, portraying a woman haunted by an experience she barely remembers, Michaela is excellent in her role. The way Arabella navigates her life while attempting to piece together the events of the forsaken night, Coel’s ability to hold the audience’s attention to the screen in uncovering what happened that night and how she’ll move on from it is incredible.
“I May Destroy You” is available for streaming with an HBO Max subscription