The work of addressing society’s core challenges—whether they be persistent inequality, a failing education system, or global climate change—can be accelerated when scholarship assumes its role as an agent of engagement and democracy. The books on the following reading list help provide context on black lives and community around the protests in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and many others.
In Making All Black Lives Matter, award-winning historian and longtime activist Barbara Ransby outlines the scope and genealogy of this movement, documenting its roots in Black feminist politics and situating it squarely in a Black radical tradition, one that is anticapitalist, internationalist, and focused on some of the most marginalized members of the Black community. From the perspective of a participant-observer, Ransby maps the movement, profiles many of its lesser-known leaders, measures its impact, outlines its challenges, and looks toward its future.
Mainstreaming Black Power
by Tom Adam Davies
Retelling the story of the 1960s and 1970s across the United States—and focusing on New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles—this book reveals how the War on Poverty cultivated black self-determination politics and demonstrates that federal, state, and local policies during this period bolstered economic, social, and educational institutions for black control. Mainstreaming Black Power shows more convincingly than ever before that white power structures did engage with Black Power in specific ways that tended ultimately to reinforce rather than challenge existing racial, class, and gender hierarchies. This book emphasizes that Black Power’s reach and legacies can be understood only in the context of an ideologically diverse black community.
The Chosen Ones
Black Men and the Politics of Redemption
by Nikki Jones
In The Chosen Ones, sociologist and feminist scholar Nikki Jones shares the compelling story of a group of Black men living in San Francisco’s historically Black neighborhood, the Fillmore. Against all odds, these men work to atone for past crimes by reaching out to other Black men, young and old, with the hope of guiding them toward a better life. Yet despite their genuine efforts, they struggle to find a new place in their old neighborhood. With a poignant yet hopeful voice, Jones illustrates how neighborhood politics, everyday interactions with the police, and conservative Black gender ideologies shape the men’s ability to make good and forgive themselves—and how the double-edged sword of community shapes the work of redemption.
The Black Map of American Life
by Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson
From Central District Seattle to Harlem to Holly Springs, Black people have built a dynamic network of cities and towns where Black culture is maintained, created, and defended. But imagine—what if current maps of Black life are wrong? Chocolate Cities offers a refreshing and persuasive rendering of the United States—a “Black map” that more accurately reflects the lived experiences and the future of Black life in America. Drawing on film, fiction, music, and oral history, Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson trace the Black American experience of race, place, and liberation, mapping it from Emancipation to now.
Black against Empire
The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, With a New Preface
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr.
Black against Empire is the first comprehensive overview and analysis of the history and politics of the Black Panther Party. The authors analyze key political questions, such as why so many young black people across the country risked their lives for the revolution, why the Party grew most rapidly during the height of repression, and why allies abandoned the Party at its peak of influence. Bold, engrossing, and richly detailed, this book cuts through the mythology and obfuscation, revealing the political dynamics that drove the explosive growth of this revolutionary movement and its disastrous unraveling.
Race and America’s Long War
by Nikhil Pal Singh
Race and America’s Long War examines the relationship between war, politics, police power, and the changing contours of race and racism in the contemporary United States. Nikhil Pal Singh argues that the United States’ pursuit of war since the September 11 terrorist attacks has reanimated a longer history of imperial statecraft that segregated and eliminated enemies both within and overseas. America’s territorial expansion and Indian removals, settler in-migration and nativist restriction, and African slavery and its afterlives were formative social and political processes that drove the rise of the United States as a capitalist world power long before the onset of globalization. Spanning the course of U.S. history, these crucial essays show how the return of racism and war as seemingly permanent features of American public and political life is at the heart of our present crisis and collective disorientation.
In this provocative book, Mugambi Jouet describes why Americans are far more divided than other Westerners over basic issues, including wealth inequality, health care, climate change, evolution, gender roles, abortion, gay rights, sex, gun control, mass incarceration, the death penalty, torture, human rights, and war. While exceptionalism once was a source of strength, it may now spell decline, as unique features of U.S. history, politics, law, culture, religion, and race relations foster grave conflicts. Anti-intellectualism, conspiracy-mongering, a visceral suspicion of government, and Christian fundamentalism are far more common in America than the rest of the Western world—Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Exceptional America dissects the American soul, in all of its peculiar, clashing, and striking manifestations.
King and the Other America
The Poor People’s Campaign and the Quest for Economic Equality
by Sylvie Laurent
Shortly before his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. called for a radical redistribution of economic and political power to transform the whole of society. In 1967, he envisioned and designed the Poor People’s Campaign, an interracial effort that was carried out after his death. This campaign brought together impoverished Americans of all races to demand better wages, better jobs, better homes, and better education. King and the Other America explores this overlooked and obscured episode of the late civil rights movement, deepening our understanding of King’s commitment to social justice and also of the long-term trajectory of the civil rights movement.
For further reading we recommend exploring resources such as the Anti-Racism Reading List from East Bay Booksellers in Oakland, CA; the #BlackLivesMatter reading list compiled by Red Balloon Bookshop in Minneapolis, MN; or the Anti-Racist Reading List by Book People in Austin, TX. Also, visit Books for Understanding for a comprehensive list of university press publishing on race relations in the U.S.