For many people, figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Frederick Douglass are household names; their work and efforts to better the lives of Black people in America are studied and revered in books, movies and other media.

But for Zion Solomon, second-year history of public policy major, these narratives are far from the complete story of Black history. To help share more of the stories and experiences of Black figures, Solomon and fellow UCSB student Taylor Jackson created a Black History Month free book pop-up.

Solomon wanted to help share more of the stories and experiences of Black figure. Sanya Kamidi / Daily Nexus

“Taylor and I were meeting about things we could do for Black History Month to raise more awareness,” Solomon said. “I specifically wanted to stray away from the typical narratives of like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and usually the more like watered down versions of what they did for civil rights.”

In particular, the contributions of Black women is something that still goes overlooked at times, Solomon said.

The pop-up will feature six books written by Black women that shed light on their experiences, insights, talents and successes. Students can stop by the pop-ups, which will be located at several points on campus such as the Student Resource Building, MultiCultural Center (MCC) and University Center, to pick up a book from the selection, Solomon said.

“The narratives that we wanted to share was the one of… not the typical narrative that makes people feel comfortable but rather educated about actual experiences of Black people,” they  said.

The pop-ups are expected to show up on campus by the beginning of March.

The books include Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler; Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era by Ashley D. Farmer; Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde; Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More by Janet Mock; My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet; and The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison.

Solomon hopes the project will bring more “overall awareness of the Black experience” to students at UCSB, which they say will be important for sustaining the Black student community on campus in the future.

“Books are really impactful to the way that people choose to think and the way that people choose to align their politics and live their lives … I think people are willing to learn, but this could be both like a really healing experience and like learning for allies and Black folks.”

The pop-up will also feature the opportunity for students to participate in book clubs to discuss the books with other students. Although many students might not have time for leisure reading or book clubs, Solomon hopes students will see the value in reading these books.

“I hope that people can simultaneously take some time from their busy schedules to read these books and get really in-depth information from each other in the groups and from the books themselves,” Solomon said.

During the process of selecting books, Solomon and Jackson enlisted the expertise of AnneMarie Mingo, an Ella Baker visiting professor of Black Studies at UCSB.

Mingo, who previously met Jackson through her involvement in the MCC and the African diasporic Cultural Resource Center, was happy to see a project with this goal in mind.

“It was exciting to me that students would have an opportunity to receive free books written by powerful Black authors,” Mingo said in an email to the Nexus.

When Jackson and Mingo met, the two discussed the project and which books could accomplish Solomon’s and Jackson’s goals. Mingo provided suggestions for specific books and advised Jackson to consider a variety of genres and perspectives and to find books for the pop-up that represent each.

I drew from books on my personal bookshelf, books I would want my students to read but we do not have space for them on the syllabus, books that are great introductions to nontraditional fields, books that can easily make must-read lists, and more,” Mingo said in the email.

Both Solomon and Amingo hope this year’s pop-up will be the beginning of a project that will resurface on campus in following years.

“I hope this will be the start of an annual opportunity for students to select books that they may not be familiar with, join in dialogue with others who also  select the same books, and extend their education beyond the classroom,” Mingo said in the email.

For Solomon, the idea behind the pop-up goes back to one of the fundamental underpinnings of the university: the value of diversity.

“The whole purpose of being at a university this large and the whole purpose of diversity… [is that] people to learn something that might not have to do with their own understanding of life and like experience.”

A version of this article appeared on page 4 of the Feb. 28, 2019 edition of the Daily Nexus


Sofía Mejías-Pascoe
Sofía Mejías-Pascoe is the deputy news editor for the 2020-2021 school year. She can be reached at or