“This groundbreaking book explores a range of largely overlooked literary and artistic works that challenge the invisibility of Black wartime history.” – Columbia University Press.

On February 28th we hosted a riveting and enlightening virtual book talk, “Black Lives Under Nazism: Making History Visible in Literature and Art,” as part of our Black History Month celebrations.

Led by the esteemed Sarah Phillips Casteel, author of this groundbreaking book, professor of English at Carleton University, and a former research fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum who is renowned for her insightful cross-disciplinary work in Jewish and African diaspora Studies, this event illuminated a chapter of history that has been largely obscured.

In thoughtful conversation with Tema Smith, Casteel discussed works of art and literature that shed light on a segment of history that has remained largely in the shadows, bringing to the forefront the little-known stories of Black individuals who endured the horrors of Nazism in Germany and occupied Europe.

The discussion will explored artistic expressions of resilience and suffering of Black people under Nazi rule—stories of forced sterilization, imprisonment, and social exclusion, which have been overlooked for far too long.

This book talk was not merely a discussion; it was an act of remembrance and acknowledgment, bringing to light the struggles of those who faced unimaginable hardships but whose stories have been preserved through the dedication of African diaspora writers and artists. Casteel examined these poignant narratives alongside accounts from survivors, offering a powerful testament to the indomitable spirit of those who fought to keep their stories alive.

To learn more about our speakers

Sarah Phillips Casteel is a professor of English at Carleton University, where she is cross-appointed to the Institute of African Studies, and a member of the Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University’s Academic Council. Her most recent books are Black Lives Under Nazism: Making History Visible in Literature and Art (Columbia UP, 2024), Calypso Jews: Jewishness in the Caribbean Literary Imagination (Columbia UP, 2016) and the coedited volume Caribbean Jewish Crossings: Literary History and Creative Practice (University of Virginia Press, 2019).

Tema Smith is a writer, educator, advocate and community builder whose work centers on antisemitism prevention and equity in the Jewish community and beyond. She currently serves as the Director of Jewish Outreach & Partnerships at ADL, where she leads the agency’s work in partnering with Jewish organizations across the United States to fight back against antisemitism and all forms of hate. A recipient of the 2022 JPro Young Professionals Award, Tema speaks and trains frequently on racial equity, diversity and antisemitism for synagogues, Jewish organizations, and community groups across North America. She serves on the Board of Trustees at the Union for Reform Judaism and on the board of Ammud: The Jews of Color Torah Academy. Prior to joining ADL, she was the Director of Community Engagement at Holy Blossom Temple where she is currently a member. The proud daughter of an Ashkenazi Jewish Torontonian and a Bahamian-American New Yorker, Tema lives in her hometown of Toronto with her dogs, her pour over coffee gear, and way too many books.

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