UC Berkeley Library

You can still access the UC Berkeley Library’s services and resources during the closure. Here’s how.

Using the Library during COVID-19

During the pandemic, many of our services are being offered in new ways. To find the latest information on course reserves, book returns, 24/7 online help, and more, visit our COVID-19 portal, which provides more up-to-date information than the text below.

African American Literature & the Arts

Rainbow: Black Poet Sarah W. Fabio

A portrait of Black poet, critic, and historian Sarah Webster Fabio. Includes readings of her works and interviews in which she discusses her approaches to writing, the relationship of the Black experience to her work, and her early influences. Originally released in 1976. 31 min.

Rap, Race & Equality.

This documentary is an informative look at the issues which rap artists attempt to deal with through their music, such as racism, economic and social inequality and race relations. It suggests that rap music flows out of the African storytelling tradition and shows how it enhances the African American sense of identity. Also examines such controversial areas as sexism and censorship as it applies to rap music. Includes interviews with musicians from Ice Cube, Ice T, Public Enemy, and Naughty by Nature. 52 min.

Religion, Rap and the Crisis of Black Leadership: Cornel West.(World of Ideas with Bill Moyers)

A conversation and interview with Cornel West, professor at Harvard University, about religion, rap music, and the crisis of black leadership in America. Dist.: Films Media Group. 1994. 30 min.

Right on! Poetry on Film.

The Original Last Poets. During 1968 on the hot streets of New York a trio of young black performers, calling themselves The Original Last Poets, were creating a hip new form of guerrilla poetry woven of soul, jazz, the blues and gospel. Today they are credited as the tap-root artists of Rap. This film, set on the rooftops and back alleys of the Lower East Side, presents the trio in the full range of performance from satire and power to tenderness and affirmation. 73 min.

Sisters in Cinema

A documentary tracing the careers of inspiring African American women filmmakers from the early part of the 20th century to the present. Realizing that she wasn't going to find her sisters in cinema in Hollywood, the producer traveled the independent path to uncover a wide range of films directed by African American women outside of the Hollywood studio system. Early filmmakers include Tressie Souders, Zora Neale Hurston, Madame C. J. Walker, Maya Angelou, Madeline Anderson, Kathleen Collins Prettyman, Darnell Martin, Kasi Lemmons, Julie Dash and Eloyce Gist.

Small Steps, Big Strides

This tribute celebrates African American silver screen legends. Included are interviews and rare footage documenting the kinds of roles black actors were first given, the challenges these performers met, and the real behind-the-scenes story of their acceptance and triumphs in Hollywood. Includes special mention of Darryl Zanuck who was the first to open major roles to African American actors.


An overview of step dancing, an African-American dance and chanting art, whose cultural roots stem from traditional African dance, military marching, and hip-hop. Shown here are college fraternity and sorority team competitions, with commentary and interviews from competitors and teachers on the history and current direction of step shows. 1992. 55 min.


A modernized version of what is known as the African gumboot dance, stepping was adopted by African-American fraternities and sororities, eventually evolving into an essential element of the black college experience. Stepping is a high energy montage of dance, jazz and military movements; an art form that is taking the world by storm. Produced and directed by Marshall Blackwell and Norman Whiteburn. 2008. 75 min.

Straight from the Streets

Six years in the making, this film begins with footage of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, and concludes with the Million Man March. It explores the realities of urban life for Afro-Americans focusing on the positive role rap music has played in bringing messages from popular culture to mass audiences. It looks at community self-empowerment, the prevention of gang formation and violence including interviews with rap artists, community leaders and Afro-American citizens.

Straight Outta Hunters Point: A Hardcore Hip-hop Documentary.

Presents a documentary look at life in the Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco in an emotionally intense reality check focusing on the daily drama of gang-related rap wars which result as rival gangs dispute over who is the best rap artist. Includes interviews with gang members and residents in a community fighting for social and economic survival. 2002. 74 min.