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History is typically associated with the past. But history, in its simplest terms, is the study of change over time. Black History Month—an annual occurrence that some also call “Black Futures Month”—provides a timely opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the change and progress that Black people continue to press forward today.
In this reading list, YES! revisits five stories published since 2022 that spotlight Black people who are creating change today in entertainment, land justice, and more. From a Black futurist approach to social justice, to the essential contributions of Black actresses in sci-fi, to reclaiming stolen lands in solidarity with Indigenous communities, Black people remain drivers of solutions in all kinds of movements and sectors.
By highlighting their current contributions, this reading list invites a broadened conception and appreciation of Black history, moving from solely honoring progress of the past, to admiring—and even joining—the progress of the present.
While it’s important to celebrate history that’s been made, celebrating history that is in the making—and uplifting the people who are actively making it—can help everyone recognize their own power to co-create a more just and equitable world.
Alicia Garza is searching for Black-led solutions to some of the biggest problems of our democracy—solutions that go far beyond a hashtag.
By Sonali Kolhatkar
Despite the region’s anti-Black past (and present), there is rich Black history being preserved amid the Columbia River Gorge and the Wallowa Mountains.
By Bruce Poinsette & Intisar Abioto
Hollywood didn’t decide on its own to portray Black women as heroes and women of power in science fiction. Their central roles in sci-fi film and television were the result of more than 80 years of Black-led struggle and strategy.
By Jonita Davis
Historically, Indigenous and Black folks have been turned against each other by colonizers and enslavers. Now, communities are learning from one another and finding solidarity in efforts to reclaim stolen lands.
By Pennelys Droz
We asked three Black artists to create pieces inspired by this year’s national Black History Month theme: Black Resistance.
By Michael Luong
Julia Luz Betancourt is an independent writer, journalist, author, and editor living and working in New York. She earned her journalism degree while fighting for racial and economic justice as a student activist and mutual aid organizer. Julia has bylines in outlets such as GEN-ZiNE, Truthout, Scheerpost, Z Network, and the Latin Times. Previously the audience engagement intern at the Financial Times, she is now the audience development specialist for YES! Media.
Iman Mohamed is the audience engagement editor at YES!, where she is in charge of the organization’s robust social media platforms and creating a strategy for YES! editorial content to deepen our relationship with the YES! community. A media enthusiast with a degree in journalism and international studies from the University of Washington, Iman specializes in digital storytelling and creative promotion of digital articles. She has reported for Seattle Globalist, The UW Daily, and interned at Real Change. In her free time, Iman likes to read mystery books, travel, and hang out with her friends.