Black History Month: What PIHers Are Reading, Watching, and Listening To

Songs, books, poems, and movies recommended by PIH staff

Posted on Feb 17, 2021

Depicts the covers of books, movies mentioned in the article

In honor of Black History Month, Partners In Health (PIH) staff in the United States have shared their favorite songs, books, poems, and movies related to antiracism, Black history, and inequities in public health. Below are some of the recommendations, including a Spotify playlist, that inspire staff. As we celebrate African Americans’ work and culture in the U.S. we’d also like to recognize the work our Black colleagues are doing around the globe. Although Black History Month has been dedicated to a single month since 1976, at PIH we know that amplifying Black voices and work is essential year-round.

A Change Is Gonna Come and One Night In MiamiA Change Is Gonna Come; One Night In Miami

“Amazon has an excellent playlist featuring the late Sam Cooke, who is one of my favorite artists of years past. His rendition of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ is amazing, especially for the time period he recorded the song. I highly recommend listening to the words of this memorable and thought-provoking song. I also recommend watching the film One Night In Miami, released Dec. 25 on Amazon Prime. It’s a powerful fictional account of one incredible evening where icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gathered to discuss their roles in the Civil Rights Movement and cultural upheaval of the ‘60s.”

—Mary Cooper, Accounts Payable Accountant

The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns

“I recently finished The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s a beautifully written history of the migration of millions of southern Black citizens to the north and west of the U.S. during Jim Crow.  I highly recommend it!”

—Lori Ray, Grants and Compliance Manager

Children of Blood and Bone; Deacon King Kong; and more Children of Blood and Bone, Let Love Rule, Between the World and Me

“I recently read Children of Blood and Bone by Nigerian-American Tomi Deyemi. It’s a fantasy novel about a heroine who attempts to restore magic in her community after years of suppression. I found it incredibly relevant today as Black women are leaning into their Black Girl Magic and as we continue to fight for equality in the U.S. I also recommend Deacon King Kong and The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, who is one of my favorite writers; Between the World The Good Lord Bird, Deacon King Kong, More Myselfand Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which brought me to tears; More Myself by Alicia Keys; and, Let Love Rule by Lenny Kravitz.”

—Kelly Stewart, Lead, Entertainment, Ambassadors, and Influencer Marketing

How to Be an Antiracist; The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table; and moreHow to Be An Antiracist, The Memo, The Weary Blues

“I highly recommend that everyone add these books and poems to their reading lists: How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi; The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table, by Minda Harts; A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines; Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston; and I Too and The Negro Speaks of Rivers, by Langston Hughes.”

—Tomesha Campbell, Executive Assistant to CMCOtest


“I recommend watching Mudbound. It’s a dark film, but it paints the reality of African American veterans returning to the U.S. after World War II. It documents the abuse that African Americans faced returning to the states from war, after being treated like heroes in Europe.” 

—Jose Toledo-Vasquez, Digital Marketing Coordinator 

The Cancer Journals;
The Cancer Journals,

“The first thing that comes to mind for Black History Month is, and has almost always been, The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde. Lorde is a well-known Black lesbian feminist poet and essayist who did a lot of amazing writing in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but her collection about navigating breast cancer is one of her most raw and I’d suggest it to anyone interested in health equity. It’s also particularly meaningful for the cancer community, a tough but important read as a cancer survivor who had a vastly different level of privilege.

I also recommend the Minneapolis-based podcast—it’s brilliant. It started as a deep dive into a development project under review in north Minneapolis, a majority Black/POC neighborhood that has carried the weight of unjust, racist policies for years. Through that narrative thread, the podcast tackled a lot of issues around economic inequity, land rights, labor rights, housing policies—with a lot of attention on environmental racism and the health consequences of pollution. It also addresses police brutality and COVID-19.”

—Maia Olsen, Program Manager, NCD Synergies


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