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Afro-Futurism: Afrofuturism

An overview of items in the library's collection that will allow those interested to gain footing in the discipline and increase knowledge of the African Diaspora's place in graphic novels and comic books.


To see more of Manzel Bowman's Illustrating Us Black to the Future, click HERE

  1. a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of black history and culture (
  2. a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that explores the developing intersection of African/African Diaspora culture with technology (Wikipedia).

According to Louis Chude-Sokei, Chair of African American Studies at Boston University, "Afrofuturism isn’t about forgetting the past, but reshaping the past towards the future.” Afrofuturism blends science fiction, fantasy, and tribal tradition to imagine a future without non-African influence. (Alyssa Mercant, What is Afrofuturism? An Illustrated Guide from SUN RA to T'Challa)  

"Since the 1990s we have seen an explosion of speculative art rooted in the black diasporic experience.  Spanning media and crossing borders, the speculative work offered by these voices has coalesced into a movement broadly defined as Afrofuturism.... Afrofuturism is an evolving theoretical framework that seeks to reframe how we think about the past and future of race and identity, colonial legacies and our approach to science and technology." (Dr. Julian Chambliss,  course description of IAH221C Fall 2019 syllabus)


An Afrofuturism Course




Afrofuturist Artists

Click HERE to view CNN's Afrofuturist Artists


A Curated Reading & Viewing List

A Curated Reading/Viewing List from Dr. Julian Chambliss' Introduction to Afrofuturism course syllabus: Afrofantastic: Race, Power, and Gender in the Black Imaginary (IAH 221C - Michigan State University, 2019) 

Lisa Yaszek, “Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, and the History of the Future,” Socialism and Democracy 20, no. 3 (November 2006): 41–60. 

Samuel R. Delany, “Racism and Science Fiction

Mark Dery, Black to the Future

Reynaldo Anderson and Charles E. Jones, “The Rise of Astro-Blackness” from Afrofuturism 2.0 (Book order requested)

W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Comet

Sun Ra Interview (see Interviews)

Sun Ra's Full Lecture & Reading List From His 1971 UC Berkeley Course, “The Black Man in the Universe,” or “The Black man in the Cosmos

Erik Steinskog, "Blackness, Technology and Changing Same” (Request via ILL)

Lee “Scratch” Perry - Studio Black Ark (see Music); Lee "Scratch" Perry Interview (see Interview)

George Clinton and Parliament – Mothership Connection (see Music); Clinton and P-Funk Interview (see Interview) 

Grace Gipson, “Afrofuturism’s Musical Princess Janelle Monae” (in Afrofuturism 2.0)

Janelle Monáe - Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu (see Music); Dirty Computer (see film)

George E. Lewis, “Foreword: After Afrofuturism,” Journal of the Society for American Music 2, no. 2 (May 2008): 139–53.

Pumzi by Wanuri  Kahiu (see Film)

Brother from Another Planet (1984) Movie (full run time 1 hr. 48 min.)

Reynaldo Anderson, “A Case Study in Visual Rhetoric, Sequential Art, and Postapocalyptic Black Identity,” From The Blacker the Link: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art (see Books, Chapter 8; ILL from JSTOR)

Dwayne McDuffie and Gregory Wright, Deathlok: The Living Nightmare of Michael Collins (Marvel, 1990) (Book order requested)

Sheena C. Howard, “Black Panther and the Politics of Black Heroism,” Black Perspectives (blog), March 10, 2018. (To locate similar articles use #comicsandrace to search for items on Black Perspectives (see Websites))

BET’s Black Panther, Episode 1 (see Television)

Documentary -- The Last Angel of History (1997)

Andre Carrington, “Space Race Woman” from Speculative Blackness (Book order requested)

Additional Readings

Reynaldo Anderson, AFROFUTURISM 2.0 & THE BLACK SPECULATIVE ART MOVEMENT Notes on a Manifesto

Reynaldo Anderson, "On Black Panther, Afrofuturism, and Astroblackness: A Conversation with Reynaldo Anderson", The Black Scholar

Upcoming Events and Opportunities


Zora Neale Hurston Festival | Afrofuturism Conference | January 30-31, 2020 | Orlando, Florida


College Language Association Convention | Afrofuturism: Diasporic Visions | April 1 -4, 2020 | Memphis, Tennessee




Author Spotlight: Octavia E. Butler

Featured Author: Nalo Hopkinson


In Constructing a Nervous System, critic and memoirist Margo Jefferson shatters her self into pieces and recombines them into a new and vital apparatus on the page, fusing the criticism that she is known for, fragments of the family members she grieves for, and signal moments from her life, as well as the words of those who have peopled her past and accompanied her in her solitude, dramatized here like never before.

Black No More is based on a fantastical, speculative premise: What if there were a machine that could turn black people permanently white? What if such a machine were invented in and introduced to 1920s America, a time of both increasing racial pride and persistent racial violence? What would the social and political implications be of such a race-reversal machine? What would it reveal about society? What lies and hypocrisies about blackness and whiteness and American identity would be revealed by the chaos that would ensue?

In a futuristic yet oddly contemporary world, a passing comet casts a shadow of death over Manhattan. Only two survive: a black man whose world has been one of poverty and hard work, and a white woman who knows only leisure and privilege. If humanity is to have a future, the two must build a new world from the wreckage of the old.

First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be.

An early example of Afrofuturistic writing, this 1904 novel is the first imagining of a realistic post racist society in America. The protagonist loses control of an airship in 1906 and awakens in 2006 to find that, much to his surprise, America has made many strides towards becoming an egalitarianism.

In August of 1887 “The Goophered Grapevine,” a short story by Charles Waddell Chesnutt appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. It was the first story by an African American ever printed in that respected magazine and marked the emergence of Chesnutt on the American literary scene. “The Goophered Grapevine” resembles the plantation fiction of such popular authors as Thomas Nelson Page, but while Page wrote sentimentally of the love of ex-slaves for their white masters and the good life of the old plantation, Chesnutt wrote of African Americans who viewed the antebellum world in which they had lived with less affection and more honesty. Uncle Julius is a shrewd man with a hidden agenda. His former master was both gullible and comically dishonest, and surrounding the world of slave and master is “conjure,” a mixture of superstition and magic. “The Goophered Grapevine” is Chesnutt’s most anthologized work and appears as one of several similar stories in his first book, The Conjure Woman.

Martin R. Delany’s Blake (1859, 1861–1862) is one of the most important African American―and indeed American―works of fiction of the nineteenth century. It tells the story of Henry Blake’s escape from a southern plantation and his subsequent travels across the United States, into Canada, and to Africa and Cuba. His mission is to unite the black populations of the American Atlantic regions, both free and slave, in the struggle for freedom, whether through insurrection or through emigration and the creation of an independent black state. Blake is a rhetorical masterpiece, all the more strange and mysterious for remaining incomplete, breaking off before its final scene.

This edition of Blake, prepared by textual scholar Jerome McGann, offers the first correct printing of the work in book form. It establishes an accurate text, supplies contextual notes and commentaries, and presents an authoritative account of the work’s composition and publication history. In a lively introduction, McGann argues that Delany employs the resources of fiction to develop a critical account of the interconnected structure of racist power as it operated throughout the American Atlantic. He likens Blake to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, in its willful determination to transform a living and terrible present.

Blake; or, The Huts of America: A Corrected Edition will be used in undergraduate and graduate classes on the history of African American fiction, on the history of the American novel, and on black cultural studies. General readers will welcome as well the first reliable edition of Delany’s fiction.

Through essays by some of hip-hop’s most interesting thinkers, theorists, journalists, writers, emcees, and DJs, Boogie Down Predictions embarks on a quest to understand the connections between time, representation, and identity within hip-hop culture and what that means for the culture at large. Introduced by Ytasha L. Womack, author of Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture, this book explores these temporalities, possible pasts, and further futures from a diverse, multilayered, interdisciplinary perspective.

In this blockbuster fantasy series fate binds two Black teenagers together as they journey into a magical jungle to hunt down a vicious monster. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted…

Acclaimed novelist Ibi Zoboi illuminates the young life of the visionary storyteller Octavia E. Butler in poems and prose. Born into the Space Race, the Red Scare, and the dawning Civil Rights Movement, Butler experienced an American childhood that shaped her into the groundbreaking science-fiction storyteller whose novels continue to challenge and delight readers years after her death.

Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham have brought together this collection of work—images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more—to tell the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today.

It is a time of calamity in the city’s Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it. In the department you are either an Empiricist, who works by the book, or an Intuitionist, who can divine any defects. When a new elevator goes into total freefall on Lila Mae’s watch, chaos ensues. But as an Intuitionist, she is never wrong. When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she will uncover a secret that will change her life forever.

Bellona is a city at the dead center of the United States. Something has happened there … The population has fled. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. Strange portents appear in the cloud-covered sky. Into this disaster zone comes a young man—poet, lover, and adventurer—known only as the Kid. Tackling questions of race, gender, and sexuality, Dhalgren is a literary marvel and groundbreaking work of American magical realism.

Karen Lord is one of today’s most brilliant young talents. Her science fiction, like that of predecessors Ursula K. Le Guin and China Miéville, combines star-spanning plots, deeply felt characters, and incisive social commentary. With The Galaxy Game, Lord presents a gripping adventure that showcases her dazzling imagination as never before.

A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. After the worst of the plague is over, armed forces have reclaimed a small section of land—aka Zone One. Mark Spitz is a member of a civilian sweeper unit tasked with the mundane task of removing the remaining feral zombies. He is also dealing with the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder (PASD), and the impossible task of coming to terms with a fallen world. And then things start to go terribly wrong…

The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award–nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’s rap group clipping

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air--in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.


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Clarissa West-White
​Bethune-Cookman University
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(386) 481-2198


Black Perspectives serves as the blog for the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). "Today Black Perspectives is the leading online platform for public scholarship on global Black thought, history, and culture." 

Suggested Assignment(s)

ICONOGRAPHY: An assignment created by Dr. Julian Chambliss

For this project, you will create a visual set that explores the themes and highlight transformative ideas linked to Afrofuturism. These posters can be created using desktop tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft PowerPoint, or online tools such as or 

The ICO posters are a different methodology to explore the contributions and perspectives linked to Afrofuturism you have read about throughout the course. All posters will be submitted electronically. These posters will be included in an online gallery governed by a creative commons license. You should sign each poster to ensure attribution.

Each student will complete a set of three (3) posters. The poster themes will be:

  • Politics & Afrofuturism
  • Gender & Afrofuturism
  • Social Class & Afrofuturism

Your ICO set will be accompanied by a creator statement. In the creator statement, you will discuss why you made the decision you did in creating your images, describe your inspiration, citing specific ideas from the class readings that shaped your choices, and talk explicitly about other works that inspired your approach.  This creator statement will be 500 words.

Link to Julian Chambliss

MAFANIKIO: Land, Industry, and Information across the African Diaspora - An assignment designed by Dr. Walter Greason

This project requires you to read a scholarly resource about three different historically black communities, neighborhoods, or cities. After reading these sources, you will create an original map of each place, using Google maps to illustrate the neighborhood.  On the map-image, you will identify at least FOUR (4) places of historic importance to the residents, based on your readings. Each place should be highlighted on the map using a digital tool of your choice (Photoshop, ARC-GIS, etc.). Incorporate these highlighted map-images into a PowerPoint file where you describe the sources, the places, and the reasons for your selections in *no less than 30 slides.* Be sure to highlight the themes in Cities Imagined (Tuskegee Universe, Soul City, Wakanda, etc.) as you examine the changing nature of race, space, and place in world history.  You can use the “Exploring Diaspora Arts” PDF (available through Academia) as a guide for your project’s development.  The final written content in your PowerPoint file should include *at least 1500 words and 25 images total.*-- 
Link to Walter Greason 

Informational Videos

Ted Talks




This link will take you to a YouTube channel of over 50 short films.


Sun Ra - Brother From Another Planet - 2005 BBC Documentary by Don Letts

Quick Looks - Fashion