44 Days Honoring Black History: "Telling Our Own Stories"

This SMC Library Research Guide is a collection of resources related to Black History. The Research Guide has been created to accompany the SMC Black Lives Matter Subcommittee's 2021 44 Days: Honoring Black History.

What is Afrofuturism?

“The notion of Afrofuturism gives rise to a troubling antinomy: Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?”
Mark Dery, "Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose" 

Faded photo of Sun Ra striding down a road in an orange cape, multicolored clothes, and a tall Egyptian-inspired headdress Black Panther promotional movie poster The painting Bird in Hand by Ellen Gallagher. Bird in Hand is a dominated by the standing figure of a black sailor or pirate with a peg-leg and an abundance of swirling hair. A collage in diverse media suggests an underwater scene. Cover of Afrofuturism book by Ytasha L. Womack, picturing a Black woman with a third eye, dreadlocks, and a sort of armored headdress made of two faces. Still from the video piece Uhura; Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts playing Nyota Uhura from Star Trek moving controls on a panel
Sun Ra Black Panther Ellen Gallagher, Bird in Hand Afrofuturism Simone LeighUhura (Tanka)

In 44 days dedicated to history, it's worth also asking what futures African diasporic cultures have envisioned. Afrofuturism has emerged as a term for the "tradition of technical experimentation and futurist themes" (Alondra Nelson) in Black literature, visual arts, music, cinema, performance, fashion, and digital culture.

Browse the galleries below for Afrofuturist books, scholarship, and more, available from the SMC Library and on the web.

Question Mark Questions about getting any of these books or movies? Ask us!

Afrofuturist Fiction

An Intro to Afrofuturism

"With the success of Black Panther, the term Afro-Futurism got pushed into the mainstream. But what is Afro-Futurism and what is its place in Black storytelling?" In this episode of It's Lit from PBS, host Princess Weekes introduces us to the ideas and innovators behind Afrofuturism.

Scholarship About Afrofuturism

Afrofuturism in Movies

Talks, Readings, and Interviews

"Afrofuturism: Risen From a Poet’s Sun explores the intersection of technology, science, and the arts, of the African Diaspora. Featuring Bay Area poets James Cagney, Tongo-Eisen Martin, Thea Matthews, and Tureeda Mikell." Co-presented by Litquake and the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) on July 28, 2020.

"Three musical giants who have made monumental contributions to Afrofuturism as we know it today, George Clinton, Nona Hendryx, and Vernon Reid, in conversation with world-renowned scholar and critic Alondra Nelson. The panelists discuss Afrofuturism – where it came from, where it is going, and what it has to offer us." Presented by the Smithsonian on December 15, 2019.

Ytasha Womack - Afrofuturism: Imagination and Humanity. "The use of the imagination for self-development and social change is one of the greatest tenets of Afrofuturism. Ytasha Womack will explore the resilience encouraged through the championing of the imagination, the tensions that arise through embracing hope, the separation of humanity from itself through the creation of the technology called race, and the power of storytelling." Presented at the Sonic Acts Festival in 2017.

Black Futures: With Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, in conversation with activist Raquel Willis and artist Naima Green. "What does it mean to be Black and alive right now? To celebrate the launch of their new book collaboration, writer, curator, and activist Kimberly Drew and New York Times Magazine culture writer Jenna Wortham were joined by activist Raquel Willis to dissect this very question. Black Futures is a collection of work—featuring images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more—that tells the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today." Co-presented by BAM and Greenlight Bookstore on February 4, 2021.

This video essay from DJ Nasty "takes a closer look at Afrofuturism as a visual aesthetic through music videos, from then to now."

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