Black Leaders Achievers members share their favorite songs, books, influencers, and more

Ella Saputra | Conant Crier

In honor of Black History Month, Crier talked to Black Leader Achievers (BLA) about their recommended materials to check out to learn more about Black history and culture.

Since 1976, every U.S President has designated February as Black History Month, an annual celebration and tribute to the achievements and central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The Black History Month theme for 2021 is “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” which explores the spread of Black families across the United States. 

In honor of Black History Month, the Conant Crier talked to Black Leader Achievers (BLA)–a club at Conant that teaches leadership skills and aims to educate the community about Black history and culture–about their recommended materials to read, watch, and hear, to learn more about Black history and culture.  

Reading Picks

“I would recommend you read “Strength To Love” by Martin Luther King, Jr. because he speaks about his journey and how he encompasses his religion with his advocacy and how that is what propelled him to greatness.” Faith Massey ‘21

“I love Maya Angelou and have found Amanda Gorman to be quite interesting as well! I think it’s really important to avoid categorizing the richness of Black History. There are so many storytellers in a variety of genres and platforms, and so I recommend starting with what you’re currently interested in and expanding that perspective to include Black narratives.” Jasmin Mundi ‘21

Film and Podcast Picks

“I would highly recommend “The Hate You Give” and “The Michelle Obama Podcast” because the movie “The Hate You Give” shows a great depiction of police brutality, and the harsh reality most Black persons in America face. In “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” she speaks on a multitude of topics that shows her humility and we (as an audience) are able to connect with one of our previous first ladies.” Faith Massey, ‘21

“Take a moment to check out the BLA Podcast! Hearing peers interested in sharing an integral reflection of Black History is a wonderful way to support local advocacy and education!” Jasmin Mundi, ‘21

““The Boondocks” (TV show by Aaron McGruder). It is a great satire about being Black in America. Its Black perspective shines a satirical light on both the white and Black communities. And also “The Racial Wealth Gap” (an episode in the Explain docu-series on Netflix). Very informative and does a great job highlighting why the economic world is the way it is and impresses upon us why working for change is so needed.” Martell Halloran, English teacher

Music Picks

“My favorite artist would be Marvin Sapp, and my favorite song by him is “Close”. This is because his voice and message resonates with the listener, similar to a great speaker.” Faith Massey, ‘21

“Ne-Yo is my favorite Black artist, and his song “Miss Independent” is one of my favorite songs. I’ve been listening to his songs for a while and like how they have so many vibes: sad, happy, annoyed, and it makes it fun to karaoke to.” Alishba Choudhry, ‘21

“Beyoncé– her visionary style is so breathtaking!” Jasmin Mundi, ‘21

“”Mortal Man” by Kendrick Lamar. This song is so powerful! The contrast of different voices (POVs) in this song is very unique and eye-opening. And “The Ghetto” by Too Short. This song has a good beat as it explores life in “the ghetto,” a setting many of us have not had to live in. It also has a great message.” Martell Halloran, English teacher

Art Picks

“My favorite Black artist is Kehinde Wiley because of his Afrocentric work! The most memorable piece is “President Barack Obama,” a portrait of… you guessed it! Barack Obama. Fun fact: Kehinde Wiley is featured on our BLA posters.” Faith Massey, ‘21

Athlete Picks

“My favorite Black athlete would be Usain Bolt because he made history! He has numbers fitting for the world’s fastest man! Fun fact: Usain Bolt is featured on our BLA posters.” Faith Massey, ‘21

“Muhammad Ali– true paradigm for self-discipline and commitment!” Jasmin Mundi, ‘21

“Usain Bolt because he is the fastest man alive. It was so exciting to watch him (I love track and field).” Martell Halloran, English teacher

Actor/Actress Picks

“My favorite Black actress is Tiffany Haddish because she is HILARIOUS. Very personable and human!” Faith Massey, ‘21

“Viola Davis. I love her show “How to Get Away in Murder” and loved her acting in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” It was so different and unique. No one could have done it the way she did it, and I would not want to see anyone else because it was captivating.” Alishba Choudhry, ‘21

“I love Lupita Nyong’o. She is able to present many different characters with enough verisimilitude that I believe she is that person. Also, I love her hairstyles because they are jaw-droppingly beautiful.” Martell Halloran, English teacher

Celebrity/Influencer Picks

“My favorite Black influencer would be Jackie Aina; she is known for her candid activism and great personality.” Faith Massey, ‘21

“Blair Imani–activist, educator, and historian!” Jasmin Mundi, ‘21

“Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock are two Black comedians who do a great job of taking a sensitive topic, such as race, racism, etc., and presenting it in an intimidating, yet still powerful and pointed way.” Martell Halloran, English teacher

Brand/Business Picks 

“My favorite Black-owned business is Fenty by Rihanna. I love all the diversity she pushes and the mere fact that she is using her platform and financial opportunities to provide more diversity into pop culture and the [beauty] industry.” Faith Massey, ‘21

Underrated Historical Figure Picks

“There are so many! However, I would have to say Haben Girma because she is an American lawyer, disability rights advocate, and the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law High.” Faith Massey, ‘21

“Robert Sengstacke Abbott comes to mind. He founded the Chicago Defender weekly newspaper, and without him, many Black publications would not exist today.” Martell Halloran, English teacher

Underrated Historical Event Picks

“An event in Black history that is under-recognized is the Black Trans Movement as well as BLM and other collimate events. It’s important that not only Black Lives Matter, but also Black trans lives matter, and they’re arguably our most vulnerable!” Faith Massey, ‘21

Historical Personal Inspiration Picks

“Martin Luther King, Jr. inspires me so much because of the nonviolent approach to making change and the way in which he led a whole revolutionary movement! It’s inspiring, and I want to learn the intricate complexity of his work and him as a person.” Faith Massey, ‘21

“I love listening to James Baldwin. His ability to present deep and complex thoughts on race in understandable ways really helped advance the much-needed conversation.” Martell Halloran, English teacher

Modern Personal Inspiration Picks

“A black leader today that inspires me is Steve Harvey because he leads with passion, faith, and charisma!” Faith Massey, ‘21

“Angel Jones–she’s so outspoken and eloquent!” Jasmin Mundi, ‘21

“I really look up to LeBron James because I think it is important that people use their platforms to speak up for those who are normally silenced, and I think he does a great job of that.” Martell Halloran, English teacher

Celebrating BHM

“I’m celebrating BHM by educating myself on how to be a constant ally and advocate for Black voices!” Faith Massey, ‘21

“I am watching and reading as much Black media as I can. I am trying to immerse myself in Black thoughts and opinions (including ones that are different from my own).” Martell Halloran, English teacher

“I’m celebrating it by working with my team to host the 2nd Annual Black History Month Event that will be held virtually on February 19th from 7-9 pm! Be sure to join us and be on the lookout for the Zoom info on our Insta @blackleaderachievers!” Alishba Choudhry, ‘21

Black Leaders Achievers

BLA will be celebrating Black History Month with a virtual event on Feb 19.'

Ella Saputra

Ella Saputra is the Editor-In-Chief of the Crier and a junior at Conant. This is her third year on the Crier staff. Outside of school, Ella enjoys playing violin and spending time with family and friends.

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