Yellow book cover with red text and an image of a man with a mechanical device covering part of his face.
Kevin M. Strait and Kinshasha  Holman Conwill
Smithsonian Books

This timely and gorgeously illustrated companion book to NMAAHC's exhibition of the same name explores the power of Afrofuturism to reclaim the past and reimagine Black futures 
Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures explores the evolving and exhilarating concept of Afrofuturism, a lens used to imagine a more empowering future for the Black community through music, art, and speculative fiction. Sumptuous, beautifully designed spreads feature more than 125 illustrations of objects and images that reflect Black identity, agency, creativity, and hope, including: the Black Panther costume from Captain America: Civil War worn by Chadwick Boseman; the red Starfleet uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Nyota Uhura in the TV series Star Trek; Glinda's costume from Broadway’s The Wiz; the Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership; Sun Ra’s space harp; and a space age-style costume worn by Nona Hendryx as a member of Labelle.

Chapters include essays by a diverse group of 21 artists and scholars who reflect on themes such as legacy, alienation and activism. 

  • Foreword & Introduction: Provides background on Afrofuturism  

  • Chapter 1 – Space is the Place: Reflects on space and its defining connection to Afrofuturism and its African cultural legacy  

  • Chapter 2 – Speculative Worlds: Explores short stories, Black speculative fiction and sci-fi, comics, and Black superheroes as bastions of Afrofuturist expression 

  • Chapter 3 – Visualizing Afrofuturism: Analyzes the vast visual culture of Afrofuturism 

  • Chapter 4 – Musical Futures: Explores Afrofuturism and music 

  • Afterword 

Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures offers a framework of radical potential to envision Black liberation and alternatives to oppressive structures like white supremacy. Afrofuturism comes at a time of increasing visibility for the concept, both in scholarship and in pop culture, and is a compelling ode to the revolutionary power of Black imagination. 

Contributors to the book are Reynaldo Anderson, Tiffany E. Barber, Herb Boyd, Ariana Curtis, Eve L. Ewing, Tuliza Fleming, Nona Hendryx, N.K. Jemisin, John Jennings, Steven Lewis, Mark Anthony Neal, Alondra Nelson, De Nichols, Elaine Nichols, William S. Pretzer, Vernon Reid, Matthew Shindell, Angela Tate, Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Ytasha L. Womack, Alisha R. Wormsley, and Kevin Young. 

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