The Witness

2021 Black History Month Recommendations

Dominique Gilliard

Editor’s Note: Dominique Gilliard, author of Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores and the forthcoming book Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege (to be released on August 24, 2021), has graciously compiled a list of his recommended reading and viewing for Black History Month 2021. You can read his list from last year here.

The following lists are not and could include a multitude of other great resources such as Reading While Black, Who Will Be a Witness, Becoming, The Souls of Black Folk, The Miseducation of the Negro, and The Parable of the Sower. Please engage these materials this Black History Month and beyond!



1. When They See Us (Netflix)
2. True Justice (HBO—or EJI)
3. I Am Not Your Negro (Prime)
4. Banished (documentary)
5. One Night in Miami (Prime)
6. Between the World and Me (HBO)
7. All In: The Fight for Democracy (Prime)
8. Just Mercy (HBO Max)
9. Slavery By Another Name (PBS—or YouTube)
10. The Best of Enemies (Hulu)


1. Jesus and the Disinherited 
2. The Color of Compromise 
3. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race
4. After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging
5. Rethinking Incarceration
6. The Warmth of Other Suns 
7. The Cross and the Lynching Tree
8. In My Grandmother’s House
9. A Knock at Midnight 
10. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

High School Age


1. Hidden Figures
2. The Great Debaters
3. Just Mercy 
4. 42 
5. Salute documentary (Amazon Prime)
6. Selma
7. Betty & Coretta
8. Four Little Girls Documentary (Spike Lee)
9. Freedom Riders
10. Something the Lord Made 

The following recommendations are best for juniors and seniors. Some titles may contain language and content that is not suitable for all audiences:

11. Between the World and Me
12. When They See Us
13. Malcolm X (starring Denzel Washington)
14. BlacKKKlansman
15. 13th 


1. March (Trilogy), by the late, great, John Lewis
2. Concrete Rose
3. Dear Martin 
4. Dear Justice
5. Dreamland Burning
6. She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman 
7. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
8. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning
9. Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice
10. All American Boys

Middle School Age


1. Hidden Figures
2. Akeelah and the Bee
3. Ruby Bridges
4. 42
5. Dancing in the Light the Janet Collins story
6. Selma Lord Selma
7. Remember the Titans
8. Watsons Go to Birmingham
9. Glory Road
10. “The Breathtaking Courage of Harriet Tubman”


1. Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids: 51 Inspiring People from Ancient Africa to Modern-Day U.S.A.
2. The Story of Barack Obama
3. Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
4. Skin Like Mine
5. Brown Girl Dreaming
6. Black Brother, Black Brother
7. Ghost Boys 
8. The Lions of Little Rock
9. What Do You Do With A Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan
10. One Crazy Summer

Elementary Age:


1. Garrett’s Gift
2. Hair Love  (won Best Animated Short Film at the 2020 Academy Awards)
3. The Journey of Henry Box Brown
4. March On!… and More Stories About African American History
5. Ruby Bridges
6. And the Children Shall Lead
7. Duke Ellington… and more stories to celebrate great figures in African American history
8. Torchlighters: The Harriet Tubman Story
9. March On!… and More Stories About African American History
10. Our Friend Martin


1. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
2. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
3. Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker
4. Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968
5. Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice
6. So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom
7. The Undefeated
8. All Because You Matter
9. Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
10. Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad 
11. Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball’s Negro Leagues


Here is a playlist full of songs of celebration, lament, sociological analysis, theological reflections, and calls to pursue racial justice. This playlist is designed to introduce you to old and new perspectives on the struggle for Black dignity in a world that all too often feels like Black lives do not matter.