Kids pick a movie, book and song in honour of Black History Month

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-02-19 15:42

Check out these Black-centric pop culture picks

When it comes to recommending a favourite book, Sofia Rathjen suggests picking up a story about an important piece of Canadian history that you don’t know about.

“It’s really important for everyone to know their histories and for these histories to be known and shared,” said the 13-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alberta.

When CBC Kids News asked Sofia and two other Canadian kids to recommend pop culture picks in honour of Black History Month, Sofia chose a book about Africville.

The vibrant Black settlement in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was destroyed by the government in the 1960s.


Illustration of happy girl waving in country scene in front of houses

The book Africville, by Nova Scotian author Shauntay Grant, is about a Black community in Halifax that was destroyed in the 1960s. (Image credit: Groundwood Books)

Africville, by Nova Scotian author Shauntay Grant, is about a girl who visits the area where the settlement used to be.

Sofia said she learned about what happened in Africville briefly in school.

But it wasn’t until she read the book that she really understood the significance of what happened when the community was bulldozed.

The book is “a story about hope, resilience, community-building and about the Canadian experience,” said Sofia.

Sofia Rathjen reviews books by BIPOC authors on Instagram at @the_technicolour_bookshelf (Image credit: Sofia Rathjen)

Sofia has one parent who is Columbian and Afro-Colombian and another who is white.

She wants to see people from all cultures represented in books.

She started an instagram account to highlight Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) authors and in January, she won a $2,000 grant to stock her school library with more diverse books.

“I think it's super important that we have Black representation and that we have a wide range of Black stories being told, because Black people and the Black community are not a monolith in any way.” - Sofia Rathjen

Sofia said the Africville story is “an example of systemic racism in Canada that I really don't think is talked about enough.”

Systemic racism is a form of racism that is embedded and woven into society, to the point where it's seen as normal.

It can lead to discrimination, and affects things like jobs, health care and education.


Children dressed up in costume in front of a poster of Marvel Studio's Black Panther movie

When Marvel released the Black Panther movie in 2018, many Black kids finally saw representation in a superhero who looked like them. (Image credit: Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press)

Samuel Yohannes, a 15-year-old from Toronto, recommended the movie Black Panther.

The movie, which was released by Marvel Studios in 2018, features the actor Chadwick Boseman as a superhero in the fictional African country of Wakanda.

Samuel said he likes the movie because of the way “it represents history.”

In particular, he said, it teaches an important lesson about what the world would be like if Black people hadn’t been uprooted from Africa by colonialism and the slave trade.

Beginning in the 1600s, millions of people were stolen from African countries and shipped to places like Europe and North America, where they were forced to work as slaves.

The movie tells “the truth of what happened with our ancestors,” Samuel said.

Samuel Yohannes, 15, recommends Black Panther as a movie that represents a positive cultural and historical message. (Image submitted by Hannah Yohannes)

Samuel said the movie, which was directed and produced by a Black director named Ryan Coogler, may have helped increase respect for Black people in the movie industry.

“Now it's more diverse and now people are more accepting.”

Black Panther was a huge success in theatres, making more than $1.3 billion US at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

Black directors and producers didn’t used to “get as much love,” Samuel said, “no matter how good the movie was.”

He said he likes to think Black Panther helped change that.


A black and white photo of the reggae singer Bob Marley playing the guitar while soulfully singing

Bob Marley, who was born in Jamaica, is considered the singer who made reggae mainstream. (Image credit: The Associated Press)

A song that 10-year-old Jahniya Diamond from Toronto thinks everyone should listen to is One Love by Bob Marley.

Why? Because “Bob Marley uses his music to connect people together.”

Marley is considered the father of reggae music, having sold more than 20 million records, and making the genre popular with people all over the world.

The song One Love was recorded in Jamaica way back in 1965 by Marley and his band, The Wailers.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics from the song:

One Love! One Heart!
Let's get together and feel all right

Jahniya said the song pushes her to achieve her “dreams and goals.”

Marley even inspired her and her brothers this year to start a band called the Hooligans.

Jahniya said she hopes the song inspires others as well.

Search the term Black History Month on our website: for more inspiration!

Correction: When this story was originally published we identified Sofia Rathjen as Black. She identifies as Colombian, Afro-Colombian and caucasian. This story has been updated for better clarity.

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