Time for an awakening interesting books.

Top 5 thought-provoking books written by celebrated Pan-African leaders

by Bridget Boakye, at 06:08 am, June 15, 2018, Culture
Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Steve Biko



The recent wave of consciousness/’wokeness’ of the last half-decade has led many young and old people to Pan Africanism. The return to the continent and love for all things black has resurfaced an interest in African history and ideas of the past.

But who better to learn about the history and ideas of the African people than from the leaders of its past. The list below is by no means exhaustive but it is a good start for those looking to begin their deep dive into Pan-Africanism.


Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism by Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, freedom fighter, and pioneer of Pan Africanism released this book in 1965. According to reports, it was so controversial that the US Department of State blocked $25 million in foreign aide to Ghana upon its release. The book was among the first to openly criticize Western governments, especially the United States, who had wanted to paint themselves as impartial at worst, and supportive of African countries at best at the end of colonialism. The book pointed out the exploitative nature of these countries’ relationship with Africa, especially in economic terms. “Something in the nature of an economic revolution is required. Our development has been held back for too long by the colonial-type economy. We need to reorganize entirely so that each country can specialize in producing the goods and crops for which it is best suited,” Nkrumah wrote.


Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle by Thomas Sankara

Few people know about Burkinabe’s first president, Thomas Sankara’s book about women and the African freedom struggle. This book is a transcription of a speech Sankara gave in 1987 at a women’s rally about the importance of gender equality on the continent. The book put him far ahead of his peers, making him one of the continent’s most progressive leaders. One of his most poignant quotes, “there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women”, continues to ring deeply in the hearts of many Africanists.


I Write What I Like by Steve Biko

Steve Biko, the revolutionary South African who was killed at the tender age of 31, wrote these pieces when he was president of the South African Student Organisation. One of the most celebrated leaders of the anti-apartheid movement, his writings stressed the importance of raising one’s consciousness and mindset as the way to true liberation. Father of the Black Consciousness Movement, his quote, “the greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed,” has become defining for all Pan Africanists.


The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B DuBois

Pioneering sociologist, Civil Rights activist and Pan-Africanist, W.E.B DuBois set the foundation for the intellectual study of race in this work he published in 1903. His book explored the issues of race, class, and society. Dubois coined the term ‘double consciousness’, and introduced other radical ideas such as the color line and the veil. He wrote, “One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”


The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told To Alex Haley

Writer Alex Halex wrote this book based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted with Malcolm X between 1963 and his assassination in 1965. Coauthored by Malcolm X and following his journey from prison to an endeared Civil Rights activist, the book is acclaimed for introducing many people to black consciousness. “So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise,” Malcolm said.


5 Books You Need to Understand the Origins of Incarceration

By Elizabeth Hinton

Elizabeth Hinton is assistant professor of history and African and African American studies at Harvard University. She is the author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880–1910

by Kali N. Gross

Duke University Press, 2006
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Kali Gross reminds us that there are two sides to every crime in this examination of how perpetrators and state actors together constructed black female criminality in Philadelphia at the turn of the 20th century. Although Gross’s nuanced analysis is rooted in prison records, trials, and mug shots from more than a hundred years ago, the implications of her groundbreaking study still resonate.

Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South

by Talitha L. LeFlouria

University of North Carolina Press, 2015
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In this widely acclaimed book, Talitha LeFlouria traces the way in which black women modernized the South as prison laborers after the Civil War. At times it is hard to plow through LeFlouria’s descriptions of the violent and exploitative conditions these women faced. Yet she leaves us with a radically new understanding of the historical dimensions of racism, gender, and state violence.

Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

by Dan Berger

University of North Carolina Press, 2014
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Most accounts of the civil-rights and Black Power era leave out the crucial role black prisoners played in shaping social movements. Thanks to Dan Berger’s illuminating book and Heather Thompson’s recent account of the Attica uprising, we can no longer tell the history of the black freedom struggle—and the 20th-century United States more broadly—without taking into account the organizing tradition inside prisons.

Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

by Khalil G. Muhammad

Harvard University Press, 2011
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The role of social-science research in creating the myth of black criminality is the focus of this seminal work by historian Khalil Muhammad. The book shows how progressive reformers, academics, and policy-­makers subscribed to a “statistical discourse” about black crime almost immediately after Emancipation, one that shifted blame onto black people for their disproportionate incarceration and continues to sustain gross racial disparities in American law enforcement and criminal justice.

Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys

by Victor M. Rios

New York University Press, 2011
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What happens when teachers and law enforcement mark black and Latino youth as “troubled” or “dangerous” from an early age? Victor Rios follows 40 young men of color in Oakland, California, illuminating the way increased surveillance and a culture of punishment within urban social institutions increases crime and social harm in vulnerable communities. Gang ethnographies have become something of a cottage industry, but this one stands out—in part because Rios belonged to an Oakland-area gang before joining the academy.

How to Understand the Struggle for Black Freedom After Emancipation


Five important books that tell the tale

By Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, a professor of history at the University of Delaware. Here, Dunbar recommends five books about the brutal struggle that black Americans faced in the epochal transition from slavery to freedom.

America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877

by Eric Foner

Harper & Row, 1988
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Now a classic text, Reconstruction examines the period that followed the Civil War. Foner recounts, in stunning detail, the triumph and tragedy of a nation that attempted to rebuild a democratic republic in the shadow of slavery and after years of violent conflict. The book’s major concerns—citizenship, civil rights, and the legacy of racism—remain hotly contested to this day.

Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the Civil War

by Tera W. Hunter

Harvard University Press,
1998Buy this book

After the Civil War, black men and women created their lives anew as free people, often taking to the open road in the attempt to distance themselves from their memories of slavery and the cotton fields. Hunter offers a compelling narrative about the lives of black women in the urban South who refused to buckle under the challenges of black codes, racial violence, and the rise of Jim Crow. To ’Joy My Freedom chronicles the experiences of the women who worked to rebuild families, earn an income, and find ways to live and love in turbulent times.

Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching

by Paula J. Giddings

HarperCollins, 2008
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In this meticulously researched biography, Giddings uses the life of Ida B. Wells to expose the racial terror faced by African Americans in the post-Emancipation years. Born enslaved in Mississippi, Wells confronted the vulnerability of black life by challenging white supremacy. As a journalist and crusader in the fight to end lynching, she held the nation accountable for its sins.

Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Harvard University Press, 2011
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Muhammad’s book is an impressive achievement and a timely read. He explores the perceived markers of race and criminality in the first generation of black men and women born after slavery. The Condemnation of Blackness explains how the notion of black criminality has left a devastating mark on African-American lives from the Jim Crow era up to the present.

Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South

by Talitha L. LeFlouria

University of North Carolina Press, 2016
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This beautifully written book leads its readers on the journey from Emancipation to the devastating convict-leasing system in Georgia. Centering her narrative around black women, LeFlouria shows how the South’s convict-labor system forced African Americans into labor camps and factories where the conditions were similar to enslavement. Chained in Silence examines the exploitation of black women’s bodies, the beginnings of mass incarceration, and the rise of the modern New South

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