Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


UK Black History Month: A Reading List

In honor of Black History Month in the UK, we’ve pulled together some of our best books and journal articles on UK and US black history. Check out the list below for our must-reads and suggestions for your bookshelf.


Race and Imperial Defence in the British World, 1870–1914: Mitcham provides a comprehensive account of the cultural and racial origins of the imperial security partnership between Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. By examining topics such as the South African War, the Anglo-German naval arms race, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, this book poses important questions about race, British identity, and the idea of empire.

The Cambridge Guide to African American History: The guide emphasizes blacks’ agency and achievements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, notably outcomes of the Civil Rights Movement. Through entries on Afro-American Culture, the Black Power Movement, and the March on Washington, it provides a critical perspective on the actions and legacies of ordinary and elite blacks and their non-black allies.

African American Religions, 1500-2000: Called a “tour de force” by Choice Magazine, this book examines the history of Black religion from the dawn of Western colonialism to FBI repression in the twentieth century. The result is an exploration of how Atlantic empires simultaneously enabled the emergence of particular forms of religious experience as well as disturbing patterns of violent domination.

Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State: This title won the APSA Ralph Bunche Award and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists W.E.B. DuBois Distinguished Book Award in 2015. Megan Ming Francis provides the first ever analysis of the NAACP’s campaign against racist violence to demonstrate the importance of citizen agency in the making of new constitutional law.

Civil Rights in American Law, History, and Politics: Austin Sarat charts the meanings of civil rights in law and culture, bringing scholars together to assess the place of civil rights in the American story. Chapters cover topics such as race case laws and the dichotomy between color blindness and color consciousness.


Journal Articles from Cambridge Core:


‘I Will Build a Black Empire’: The Birth of a Nation and the Specter of the New Negro

The Great Migration in Black and White: New Evidence on the Selection and Sorting of Southern Migrants

Left Out: Policy Diffusion and the Exclusion of Black Workers from Unemployment Insurance

Writing from the Center or the Margins? Olaudah Equiano’s Writing Life Reassessed

Travelers, Strangers, and Jim Crow: Law, Public Accommodations, and Civil Rights in America

Pride and Prejudice: West Indian Men in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain

Civil Rights, World War II, and U.S. Public Opinion

The Carceral State and the Crucible of Black Politics: An Urban History of the Rockefeller Drug Laws

Racial Orders, Congress, and the Agricultural Welfare State, 1865–1940

Between Reconstructions: Congressional Action on Civil Rights, 1891–1940


Further Reading:

Beyond the Rope

1919, The Year of Racial Violence

How Americans Make Race

Contested Transformation

Governing with Words

The Schematic State

Sterilized by the State

Race, Ethnicity, and Disability

Loving v. Virginia in a Post-Racial World

Gender and Race in Antebellum Popular Culture

Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830–1880

Constructing Race

A History of Prejudice

Forging Rivals

The Cambridge Companion to American Civil Rights Literature

A Legal History of the Civil War and Reconstruction

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