Civil Rights Book Club Previous Selections
Things Fall Apart: A Novel, by Chinua Achebe: This classic provides insight into the traditional life of a community as it begins to deal with change brought on by colonialism. Written just two years after Nigeria’s declaration of independence from Great Britain, it perfectly captures the culture clash between races, and the traditional and the modern.
The Girls Who Went Away, by Ann Fessler: Fessler tells the stories of women who gave up children for adoption in the post-WWII era. The book is an eye-opening examination of choices, and the consequences of the social stigma of keeping a child, the lack of sex education, lack in birth control education, and the lack of safe, legal abortion.
Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, by Larry Tye: In this biography of the premier pitcher for the Negro Leagues, Tye unveils the powerhouse persona of Leroy (Satchel) Paige. The book not only sheds light on the legendary player, but also on the game and the country he helped change.
Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata: Told from a viewpoint of a child, this award-winning novel tells the story of a Japanese-American family as it relocates from Iowa to Georgia in the late 1950s. The novel masterfully interweaves the themes of family, culture, and community as it addresses the issues of prejudice, poverty, and disease.
Grading Education, by Richard Rothstein: Rothstein offers a penetrating and thoughtful analysis of the current accountability process in our educational system. The book not only evaluates where the No Child Left Behind law falls short, but it also prescribes holistic reforms to fix the problem.
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel: In this powerful and engaging graphic-novel memoir, Bechdel documents her childhood experiences and coming-of-age as a woman and lesbian.
Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage, by Nancy Polikoff: Law professor Polikoff reframes the current debate over marriage rights by encouraging readers to reconsider what is labeled and valued as "family."
Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden: This modern classic takes a very nuanced and sensitive portrayal of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures and isolation from family and school, learn to trust each other and stay true to who they are.
The Stone Gods, by Jeanette Winterson: Set in a fantastical, apocalyptic world, this novel brilliantly explores the human tendency to repeat past mistakes.
Lost Prophet, by John D’Emilio: D’Emilio’s biography of Bayard Rustin tells the full story of Rustin’s pioneering public persona and his private life as an gay man.
African American Environmental Thought, by Kimberly K. Smith: Smith highlights the long-neglected link between the early conservation movement and black history, and the importance of freedom in humans' relationship with nature.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded, by Thomas Friedman: In this bestseller, Friedman presents a single path toward solving two critical issues: climate change and America’s lost leadership role on a global scale.
The Accidental Asian, by Eric Liu: As a second-generation Chinese American, Liu takes an in-depth look at his ethnic identity, and rigorously examines all aspects of assimilation.
Asian American Dreams, by Helen Zia: Zia documents the often missing history of the formation of the Asian community in America – beginning with the early “gold rush” immigrants to the recent influx of Southeast Asians.
The End of Poverty, by Jeffrey Sachs: Focusing on the “bottom billion,” the world’s poorest people who live on a subsistence level, economist Sachs offers nine ways to eliminate extreme poverty by 2025.
Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones: In this bestseller, Jones presents a timely and practical approach to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people in America out of poverty.
Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee: Disgrace is a gripping literary achievement that elegantly weaves together the themes of aging, gender, family, nature, power, race, and contemporary socio-economic issues in post-Apartheid South Africa.
Gifted Hands, by Ben Carson: In his inspiring and memorable autobiography, Dr. Carson shares his remarkable journey from being a frustrated inner-city kid to becoming a top neurosurgeon.
And Justice for All, by Mary Frances Berry: Berry chronicles the struggle of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to remain an independent monitoring agency while holding the U.S. government accountable to the principles of equality.
Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee: The novel traces the life of a first-generation Korean American woman as she learns to navigate between her immigrant-family upbringing and her Ivy-league education.
Born for Liberty, by Sara Evans: Evans evaluates the last 300 years of the women's movement by considering issues such as class, race, marital status, and occupation.
Telling Stories Out of Court, by Ruth O'Brien: This collection of narratives of women and workplace discrimination offers a rare view into the subtle, sometimes ambiguous and highly emotional stories that are not usually reported in the media.
Race Across Alaska, by Libby Riddles: Riddles is the first woman to win the "Iditarod," a famous sled-dog marathon from Anchorage to Nome, Ala.
The Nine, by Jeffrey Toobin: At a time of great institutional change, Toobin offers a group profile of the nine Supreme Court justices who have the final say on critical issues such as abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, and gay rights, among others.
The Sacred Hoop, by Paula Gunn Allen: This work documents the unique and crucial role females play in the Native American traditions.
A Mercy, by Toni Morrison: Morrison's new novel explores the very foundation of American slavery in the late 17th century, offering a complex view of relations – between men, women, children, slaves and masters – exposing their intricate nature and the moral ambiguity surrounding them.
Nine Lives, by Dan Baum: Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography about one of the most beautiful and broken American cities – New Orleans.
Hattie McDaniel, by Jill Watts: In this biography of the first African American to win an Academy Award, Watts explores the complex life and controversial career of a fascinating actress who, while breaking many barriers, was ultimately unable to change the negative stereotypes of Blacks in Hollywood.
All Aunt Hagar's Children, by Edward P. Jones: The author of the prize-winning The Known World offers another engrossing and forceful collection of short stores all set in Jones' native Washington D.C.
Letter to My Daughter, by Maya Angelou: Culling from her rich experience, both the proud and the embarrassing moments, Angelou reveals her path to living a life with meaning.
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros: This novella deals with the coming of age struggles of Esperanza, a young girl growing up in a poor Latino neighborhood of Chicago.
Breath, Eyes, Memory, by Edwidge Danticat: Denticat masterfully interweaves themes of racial, linguistic, and gender identity in this gripping narrative about a young immigrant girl from Haiti.
A New Deal for the World, by Elizabeth Borgwardt: Carefully researched and broad in scope, Borgwardt’s book illuminates the history of modern human rights, collective security, the new global trade and economy, and international law.
Funny in Farsi, by Firoozeh Dumas: In this, Dumas describes her adventures in acculturation, and balancing the complex interaction between the traditional culture of her native Iran with the demand of modern society in California.
Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall: Told from two perspectives, this nonfiction novel is the story of two men who at first seem very different: one is a rich international art dealer, while the other is a poor sharecropper who lives a life virtually indistinguishable from slavery.
Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder: The story of Paul Farmer, a doctor who has relentlessly broken through barriers to reach and treat the poor around the world, is transformative and inspiring.
The Cost of Living, by Arundhati Roy: This short book describes the unjust consequences of two major development projects in India – the building of a massive dam and the detonation of a nuclear bomb – on the country’s poor.
All Our Relations, by Winona LaDuke: LaDuke shares eight in-depth portraits of Native American tribes’ resistance to modern environmental and cultural degradation posed both by the government and corporate entities.
Green Grass, Running Water, by Thomas King: This wildly entertaining novel tells the story of five modern Blackfoot Indians struggling to find their identity while still dealing with discrimination and oppression.
Not Far Away, by Lois Beardslee: Not Far Away recounts the life of a Native American teacher and her struggle to overcome adversity in the public school system of northern Michigan.
The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. du Bois: One hundred years after publication, this eloquent collection of essays remains one of the most influential works on the life, ambitions, struggles, and the passions of African Americans at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Traitor to His Class, by H.W. Brands: This new biography sheds light on the formative years of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his remarkable willingness to champion the concerns of the poor and disenfranchised.
Carry Me Home, by Diane McWhorter: McWhorter reveals new and insightful information about the civil rights revolution during its violent climax by describing the events that took place in Birmingham, Alabama.
The House at Sugar Beach, Helene Cooper: Renowned journalist Cooper writes a sobering memoir of her privileged upbringing and subsequent violent exile from Liberia, a country founded in 1822 by freed U.S. slaves.
The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama: With his second book, Obama shares personal views on faith and values and offers a vision of the future that involves repairing a "political process that is broken" and restoring a government that has fallen out of touch with the people.
Planet of the Blind, by Stephen Kuusisto: In this memoir, Kuusisto describes the life-long struggle of his own reluctance to accept his disability until an accident finally forces him to seek help and change his interaction with the world.
Schuyler’s Monster, by Robert Rummel-Hudson: Poignant, funny, and compassionate, Schuyler’s Monster is essentially a story about family and parenting, and the way a father comes to terms with his daughter’s inability to talk.
Raymond’s Room, by Dale DiLeo: Using a mix of research and anecdotes, DiLeo makes a compelling case that even today people with disabilities continue to experience de facto segregation in housing and employment.
Moving Violations, by John Hockenberry: Hockenberry writes about the challenges he encounters as a wheelchair-bound journalist and war correspondent.
Look Me in the Eye, by John Elder Robinson: Growing up, Robinson was often accused of being lazy, or weird, or worse, sociopathic, all because he lived undiagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism.
Pedro Paramo, by Juan Rulfo: Rulfo, one of Mexico's most influential literary figures, captures the essence of rural life in Mexico during the late 19th century in this story of one man’s quest to learn about his heritage.
Ficciones, by Jorge Luis Borges: In this quintessential collection of short stories, Borges offers some of his best, most radical and imaginative tales rich with fantasy and powerful literary and philosophical reflections.
The Hummingbird's Daughter, by Luis Alberto Urrea: This book is a vivid history lesson on the turmoil of the pre-revolutionary Mexico captured by the life of Teresita, who is born in utter poverty and grows up to become the symbol of populist rebellion.
Latino Boom, by John Christie and Jose Gonzalez: The diverse content of this anthology of short stories and poems goes beyond stereotypes to offer a fresh perspective on Latino culture.
Chasing the Flame, by Samantha Power: In this biography of Brazilian Sergio Vieira de Mello, author Power charts the life of one of the most respected diplomats and leaders in the international humanitarian relief community.
The Thirteen American Arguments, by Howard Fineman: As America approaches the presidential elections, Fineman's book is a timely reminder that a healthy and vibrant democracy can only persist in a culture that values strong and lively debate.
This Land is Their Land, by Barbara Ehrenreich: In this collection of essays, Ehrenreich uses compassion and wit to expose the two extremes of America: the wealthy that consume plastic surgery, even for their pets, and the impoverished that cannot afford health care for their children.
Unconventional Wisdom, by Karen Kaufman: Challenging the myths and false assumptions commonly held about the American voters and elections, this book provides essential insight into the central themes in American politics.
Stir it Up, by Rinku Sen: From media strategy to building strong alliances and networks, Sen’s manual goes beyond a traditional model of grassroots organizing.
Ending Poverty in America, by John Edwards: Forcing the issue of poverty into the light, Edwards, along with journalists, organizers, business leaders, and scientists, explains why poverty continues to exist.
Blessed Unrest, by Paul Hawken: Environmentalist Hawken tells the story of thousands of activist groups around the world who are collectively working toward social and environmental justice.
Gal: A True Life, by Ruthie Bolton: Writing under a pseudonym to protect her family, a young African-American woman daringly and honestly describes her struggle to overcome years of abuse, neglect, and utter poverty.
Native Son, by Richard Wright: Set in 1930s Chicago, Native Son reveals the hopelessness, misery, and injustice that cause a young black man to commit a horrible crime.
A Handbook to Luck, by Christina Garcia: Told from several points of view, Garcia's novel depicts three unpredictably linked stories of very different people as they cope with violence, longing, culture shock and crushed dreams.
The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz: Diaz brilliantly weaves together the history of one nation, of one family, and a tumultuous life of one boy to expose the complexity of the immigrant experience.
Hiding in Hip Hop, by Terrance Dean: Testosterone and machismo may drive much of today’s entertainment industry, but Dean’s much-anticipated memoir unveils a gay subculture within.
Mississippi Sissy, by Kevin Sessums: Mississippi Sissy is also blistering portrayal of racism in the rural South during the 1960s and 70s.
A Wolf at the Table, by Augusten Burroughs: New York Times bestselling author Burroughs delivers once again in a penetrating memoir about his cruel and aloof father.
Angels in America, by Tony Kushner: Winner of two Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama, Angels in America is provocative play whose cast of characters grapple with politics, religion, sexuality, and the AIDS crisis.
And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts: In this extensive pathology of the AIDS epidemic, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Shilts casts a chilling indictment on the political institutions and medical and scientific communities that failed to thwart the most virulent crisis of modern times.
Dear Mr. President, by Dwight Young: Spanning topics from civil rights to physical fitness, Dear Mr. President is a fun, moving, and memorable collection of letters expertly drawn from the National Archives written by ordinary citizens and celebrities alike.
All Things Being Equal, by Brian Smedley and Alan Jenkins: This book features a set of critical essays analyzing the crisis of economic and educational opportunities in America and designing solutions for the future.
Cross-X, by Joe Miller: In his first book, journalist Miller follows an inner-city team of African-American high school debaters as they challenge poverty, racism, and an abysmal school system to find success competing at the national level.
The Difference, by Scott E. Page: In The Difference, Page argues that the collective wisdom of multiple perspectives is greater than the sum of its parts.
Segregation, by James H. Carr and Nandinee K. Kutty: Poor access to jobs, quality education, and homeownership are not issues merely confined to the segregated minority communities experiencing them. As Segregation claims, these problems affect the economic future of our entire nation, yet their solutions are not beyond our reach.
Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin: After a near-fatal attempt to climb the world’s second tallest mountain in Pakistan, Mortenson promises the remote village that nurtured him to health its first school.
Wild Swans, by Jung Chang: In this gripping memoir, Chang chronicles the lives of three generations of Chinese women.
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant: Often described as what the Bible may have looked like had it been written by women, The Red Tent is a fictional history of womanhood during biblical times.
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd: In her debut novel, Kidd introduces Lily Owen, a girl neglected by her father and haunted by her mother’s tragic death.
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, by Pearl Cleage: Written by an accomplished playwright, this book is a sharp and entertaining bestseller that follows Ava Johnson, the owner of a hair salon in Atlanta who returns to her childhood home when she learns she is HIV-positive.
Snow, by Kenji Jasper: Acclaimed writer Kenji Jasper’s creates a gripping narrative about a young black man, trying hard to make it in the mean streets of Washington, D.C.
One Good Punch, by Rich Wallace: Wallace's sobering novel is the story of Michael Kerrigan, a senior track star whose unwavering dedication to writing and athleticism keep him out of trouble, until a friend stashes four joints in his locker.
The Good Negress, by A. J. Verdelle: In her luminous debut novel, A.J. Verdelle tells the story of young Denise Palms, transplanted from her grandmother's rural Virginia home to the chaos of big-city Detroit in 1963 to help care for the baby her mother and stepfather are expecting.
All Aunt Hagar’s Children, by Edward P. Jones: Fans of Jones’ Pulitzer Prize–winning The Known World may like this collection of 14 complex, sometimes somber short stories all centered in Washington D.C. throughout various time periods in the 20th century.
Caucasia, by Danzy Senna: A young girl learns some difficult lessons by growing up in a biracial family in 1970s Boston.
The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison: An instant best-seller since it was first published 1952, The Invisible Man is a fictional story of a young black man searching for racial identity in a white-dominated society.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: In this masterpiece, Nobel Prize-winning Marquez follows a family's dissension from mystic and idealistic isolation into cruel and adulterated modernity.
The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck: A seemingly conventional rags-to-riches tale set in pre-revolutionary China, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel plots the life of a hardworking father dedicated to cultivating his land and providing for this family.
Love Medicine, by Louise Erdrich: Erdrich's breakthrough Love Medicine delicately weaves together a collection of short stories about an inter-generational cast from a reservation in North Dakota.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston: Controversial at the time of its original publication for harboring black stereotypes, this story of a young woman's pursuit of meaning and independence is now widely renowned and was recently adapted as a TV movie staring Halle Berry.
In Our Own Best Interest, by William Schulz: Demonstrating our interconnectedness though globalization, Schulz offers a compelling argument as to why ignoring health issues, environmental concerns, labor practices and economic corruption around the globe can have devastating consequences for ordinary Americans.
Not on Our Watch, by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast: What makes this book different from most others written on the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, is that it offers a concrete set of actions that an ordinary citizen in the United States can undertake to help end the crisis that has lasted almost five years.
Pathologies of Power, by Paul Farmer: Provocative and visionary, the work addresses the issues of human rights through the perspective of public health.
The Innocents, by Taryn Simon: While some were sentenced to life in prison as others were sent to death row, the subjects of this photography book all share one thing in common: they were all convicted and served time for a crime they did not commit.
Banker to the Poor, by Muhammad Yunus: Yunus created the concept of micro lending in 1977 in his native country of Bangladesh, and the idea has since empowered thousands of people and spread to more than 50 countries worldwide, offering an effective solution to world poverty and claiming that credit is a fundamental human right.
Disability and the Media, by Charles Riley II: Arguing for more appropriate language and less stereotyping, Riley’s Disability and the Media is a welcome guide to more sophisticated media coverage of the disabled community.
Waist-High in the World, by Nancy Mairs: Both a reflection of her personal illness and a commentary on wider social issues, Mairs explores topics that include caretaking, sexual intimacy, abortion, and euthanasia with finesse and candor.
Why I Burned My Book, by Paul Longmore: By highlighting institutionalized discrimination and the need to gain a political voice, Longmore challenges the disabled to fight for rights, reconsider social and political values, and establish a sense of community.
Beyond Ramps, by Marta Russell: In her provocative and intelligent book, Russell attributes the problems faced by the disabled to the economic oppression caused by capitalism and the trend to limit government spending.
A Smile as Big as the Moon, by Mike Kersjes: NASA’s Space Camp seemed like the perfect learning experience for Kersjes’ special education students, but not everyone agreed. While school administrators, NASA officials, and even parents questioned the idea, Kersjes’ perseverance offered children with Tourette’s, Down syndrome, and other disabilities the chance of a lifetime.
The Potbellied Virgin, by Alicia Yanez Cossio: The Potbellied Virgin illuminates the complexity of contemporary Andean society by placing disenfranchised players such as women and native Indian tribes onstage with traditional powers such as the military and the church.
Bordering Fires, by Christina Garcia: As global migration transforms societies on both sides of every border, Garcia offers a timely anthology of fiction, essay, and poetry that delves into the important questions of identity and allegiance that arise from both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Broken Paradise, by Cecilia Samartin: Samartin explores the universal themes of optimism, grief, and perpetual longing for home that shape the immigrant heart as she weaves the stores of two cousins who take very different paths following the Cuban revolution.
Text-Mex, by William Anthony Nericcio: In this original and highly provocative book, Nericcio goes after the Latino stereotypes created by the “American image machine.”
Shadows of Your Black Memory, by Donato Ndongo: Set during the last years of Spanish rule in Equatorial Guinea, Shadows of Your Black Memory portrays the cultural conflicts between Africa and Spain, ancestral worship competing with Catholicism, and tradition giving way to modernity.
The Real All Americans, by Sally Jenkins: Little known to many sports fans, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School football team is arguably the most influential squad to ever play the game with innovations such the forward pass and players like Jim Thorpe.
Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, by Karen Blumenthal: Though sports are not explicitly stated in the still controversial Title IX law, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally-funded education programs, it has drastically enhanced opportunities for females in athletics.
Almost a Woman, by Esmeralda Santiago: Santiago’s sequel to her first memoir covers her life as an adolescent and young woman when she lived in Brooklyn during the 1960s.
Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season, by Jonathan Eig: At a time when segregation and lynching were commonplace, “Jackie Robinson showed that talent mattered more than color.” As the first African American to play in major-league baseball, his achievement represented hope and a new era of civil rights.
How Soccer Explains the World, by Franklin Foer: In countries all over the world, soccer is not merely a favorite national pastime, Foer claims, but it is a window into the social, political, racial and economic makeup of the communities where the game is played and revered.
There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975, by Jason Sokol: There Goes My Everything tells the largely uncovered story of white Southerners during the Civil Rights Movement.
Indigenous American Women, by Devon Abbott Mihesuah: Mihesuah offers an absorbing look at the complex, evolving identities of American Indigenous women today, their ongoing struggles against a centuries-old legacy of colonial disempowerment, and how they are seen and portrayed by themselves and others.
Almost a Woman, by Esmeralda Santiago: Santiago’s sequel to her first memoir covers her life as an adolescent and young woman when she lived in Brooklyn during the 1960s.
They Tell Me of a Home, by Daniel Black: The protagonist Tommy Lee Tyson returns to his hometown of Swamp Creek, Arkansas, and over the course of a one-week visit, Tyson discovers truths about his family, his community, and his undeniable connection to rural Southern black folk and their ways.
Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation, by Alejandro Portes: This landmark study, the most comprehensive to date, probes all aspects of the new immigrant second generation's lives.
Same Sex Love in India, edited by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai: This anthology, drawn from Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions, presents an array of writings on same-sex love from over two millennia of Indian literature.
She's Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan: Both humorous and poignant, this provocative autobiography details a lifelong struggle of a person who changes genders and the effect of such a change on one’s private life.
Man in the Middle, by John Amaechi: This moving story of diversity and hardship chronicles John Amaechi’s experience of becoming a rising NBA star harboring a secret that could have potentially ended his career.
Before Night Falls, by Reinaldo Arenas: Combining the personal with the political, the celebrated Cuban writer Arenas takes us on a vivid journey from extreme poverty of his childhood to his continual oppression as a dissident writer and a homosexual.
Lessons, by Kim Pritekel: This fictional novel conveys the wonderfully complex story of the 18-year-old Chase Marin as she enters college and begins her journey of self-discovery.
Freedom is Not Enough, by Nancy MacLean: In Freedom is Not Enough, MacLean skillfully analyzes how civil rights advocates demanded equal access to employment and transformed modern labor into a workplace that takes pride in its diversity.
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel: In this autobiographical graphic novel, Bechdel crafts an affectionate yet humorous illustration of her childhood relationship with her emotionally distant father, an English teacher and funeral home director.
And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel: Congressman Rangel, former high school dropout, decorated war veteran, and now chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, provides an engaging memoir packed with anecdotes of his experience bridging the gap between party lines.
Supreme Conflict, by Jan Crawford Greenburg: Written by ABC News legal correspondent Greenburg, Supreme Conflict offers a provocative, all-access look at the personalities and inner workings of the most powerful court in the nation.
The Color of Wealth, by Meizhu Lui, Barbara Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, Rose Brewer, and Rebecca Adamson: Written by five leading experts on the racial wealth divide who recount the asset-building histories of American minorities, this book is a uniquely comprehensive multicultural history of American wealth.
Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America, by Mark Lloyd: Prologue to a Farce argues that our ability to become a truly educated society, we must all have broad access to media technologies.
Reporter: Covering Civil Rights...and Wrongs in Dixie, by Alvin Benn: As bureau chief for United Press International in Birmingham, Alabama, Alvin Benn covered some of the most momentous events of the Civil Rights Movement.
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, by Dan Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams: Wikinomics explores the rise of Internet “togetherness” – Wikipedia being the most recognizable example.
Copies in Seconds, by David Owen: Inventor Chester Carlson offered his big idea – the Xerox copier – to two dozen major corporations, all of which turned him down.
A Latina in the Land of Hollywood and Other Essays on Media Culture, by Angharad N. Valdivia: In this diverse set of essays, Valdivia explores the relationship of the media to various audiences.
Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary, by Jasmine Guy: In her first book, renowned actress Guy delivers a definitive account of the life of Afeni Shakur, a former Black Panther leader and mother of the late hip-hop artist Tupac.
The Covenant in Action, by Tavis Smiley: A continuation to The Covenant with Black America, a guide to addressing ten critical issues ranging from housing to education, The Covenant in Action offers the tools to put ideas into practice and to transform individuals into agents for change.
Borderlands/La Frontera, by Gloria Anzaldua: In this critical and creative blend of poetry and prose, Anzaldua courageously embraces her hybrid identity as a Chicana, lesbian, feminist, and scholar.
Secondhand World, Katherine Min: Min's debut novel tells the story of Isa, the daughter of Korean immigrants, in her pursuit of self-discovery.
Lipstick Jihad, by Azadeh Moaveni: Born in California after her parents fled from Iran in the 1970s, Moaveni struggles to reconcile her dual identities as she fantasizes about her homeland.
Making Malcolm, by Michael Eric Dyson: Dyson paints a portrait of the Malcolm X as a symbol of self-discipline, self-esteem and moral leadership necessary to combat the spiritual and economic corruption of poor African American communities.
The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama: With his second book, Obama shares personal views on faith and values and offers a vision of the future that involves repairing a "political process that is broken" and restoring a government that has fallen out of touch with the people.
Secret Daughter, by June Cross: Cross narrates her life as the daughter of a white woman and a well-known black vaudevillian (Jimmy Cross) who was handed over to a black couple for rearing.
The Real Pepsi Challenge, by Stephanie Capparell: In 1946, Pepsi-Cola CEO Walter S. Mack, who was facing an uphill battle against Coke, decided that tapping the "Negro market" would help Pepsi win.
The Segregated Scholars, by Francille Rusan Wilson: Wilson sheds new light on the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, Abram L. Harris, Robert C. Weaver, Carter G. Woodson, Gertrude McDougald, Emma Shields Penn, and Elizabeth Haynes -- a succession of scholars bent on replacing myths and stereotypes regarding black labor.
Simple Justice, by Richard Kluger: An American history classic, Simple Justice is the definitive work on the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.
Beyond Prisons, by Laura Magnani and Harmon L Wray: As the American prison population continues to grow at a rate five to ten times higher than that of other industrialized nations, this radical and inventive book challenges the reader the abolish the prison system as we currently know it.
The Innocent Man, by John Grisham: In his first work of nonfiction, Grisham tackles the controversial subjects of the death penalty and prisoner's rights in the American criminal justice system.
Whitewashing Race, by Michael K Brown: While most Americans continue to believe that institutional racism is a thing of the past, Whitewashing Race dispels the myth of a ‘color-blind’ culture by demonstrating the effects of racial disparity in today’s society. Brown’s book is an indispensable tool in the contemporary debate on racial equality.
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum: Tatum, a psychologist and an educator, explores the development of racial identity in children, from the early years through adulthood, and explains why people of different races tend to cluster together in schools and even workplaces across the U.S.
Ojibwa Warrior, by Dennis Banks: Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, Banks, who was forced to assimilate into white culture as a child, co-founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 to defend Native American tradition.
Blood Done Sign My Name, by Timothy B. Tyson: This well-researched, historical analysis explores civil rights through the public murder of a young black man in Tyson’s hometown of Oxford, North Carolina.
There is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster, edited by Chester Hartman and Gregory D. Squires: In this critical and comprehensive collection of essays, scholars, local activities, and other professionals explore race and class in public policy and its implications for the social and economic reconstruction of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
Confounding the Color Line, edited by James Brooks: While many works have explored the histories of marginalization shared by Native Americans and African Americans, Brooks’ anthology moves beyond that comparison to analyze the dynamic relationships between the two communities.
From Civil Rights to Human Rights, by Thomas Jackson: Jackson argues that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent opposition to racism, militarism, and economic injustice had more radical implications than is commonly recognized.
Walking with the Wind, by John Lewis: From lunch counter sit-ins to voter registration drives, Walking with the Wind provides a vivid, first-person account of the Civil Rights Movement by describing every major civil rights event of the 1960s and the conflicting internal ideologies that shaped the movement.
A Sense of the World, by Jason Roberts: Born in 1786, James Holman joined the British navy at age twelve only to fall ill and become permanently blind by age 25. Rather than relying on the charity of others to survive, Holman overcomes his disability and begins an exhilarating journey to destinations as far off as Siberia, Australia, and equatorial Africa.
Homegrown, by bell hooks and Amalia Mesa-Bains: As a corrective to media-fueled perceptions that Blacks and Latinos are becoming more politically polarized, hooks and Mesa-Bains share an intimate conversation about family, work, heritage, and identity that symbolically unites their two communities.
Indefensible, by David Feige: Feige's captivating depiction of his average day as a South Bronx Public Defender incites critical debate about the shortcomings of America's criminal justice system.
Nothing About Us Without Us, by James Charlton: Featuring interviews with disability rights activists around the world, Charlton masterfully examines disability oppression through the framework of international human rights, comparing and connecting it with the wider movements against racism and sexism.
Clemente, by David Maraniss: While this biography has enough facts and anecdotes to satisfy any die-hard baseball fan, it also highlights important social issues faced by minority baseball players during the 1950s and 1960s.
The Maya of Morganton, by Leon Fink: The arrival of several hundred Guatemalan-born workers in a Morganton, North Carolina, poultry plant creates the setting for this dramatic story of human struggle in an age of globalization.
Rain of Gold, by Victor Villasenor: Often compared to Alex Haley's Roots, Rain of Gold is a mystical family history of three generations of Mexican immigrants.
Barefoot Heart, by Elva Trevino Hart: Born in southern Texas as the daughter of migrant farm workers, Hart encountered adversity and discrimination throughout her childhood.
American Chica, by Marie Arana: In this memoir, Arana explores her youth in Peru and New Jersey as a bridge uniting two distinct heritages.
Mirror to America, by John Hope Franklin: In this autobiography, John Hope Franklin, one of the most celebrated and respected African-American historians, chronicles his life, work, and perpetual struggle with institutionalized racism.
Iran Awakening, by Shirin Ebadi: Written by a female judge and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy of human rights, Iran Awakening offers a rare account of the legal struggle for social justice in Iran as well a glimpse into an ordinary life of an Iranian woman.
Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh, by Robert H. King: In his exploration of the two philosophers King shows how they came to understand the relationship between contemplative practice and social action in the context of their respective religious tradition and the impact they have had on current interest in the intersection of spirituality and social action.
White Like Me, by Tim Wise: Wise offers a highly personal examination of the ways in which racial privilege shapes the lives of most white Americans, overtly racist or not, to the detriment of people of color, themselves, and society.
Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin: In the Deep South of the 1950s, journalist Griffin decided to cross the color line by using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown. His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity that still has something important to say to every American.
Sundown Towns, by James Loewen: In the first book ever written on the topic, Loewen explains the violent and cruel policies that kept African Americans and other minorities out of thousands of towns from the 1890s to the 1970s, and the ramifications these policies continue to have on society.
Witness to the Truth, by John H. Scott with Cleo Scott Brown: This timely biography tells the story of a grassroots human rights leader‘s courageous campaign to win the right to vote for the African Americans in Louisiana.
Are Women Human? by Catharine MacKinnon: Academic and controversial, the book proposes cutting-edge ideas on feminism, exploring the space where law and culture rupture.
Alchemy of Race and Rights, by Patricia Williams: Drawing upon her perspective as teacher, lawyer, black American, and a woman, Williams uses a palette of court cases, educational encounters, and personal experiences to create a literary cubist portrait detailing the rhetoric and reality that color the complexion of American justice.
How the Irish Became White, by Noel Ignatiev: An excellent springboard for discussion, Ignatiev’s book traces the troubled history of Irish and African-American relations, revealing different strategies used by the Irish to gain and secure their status as part of the “white race.”
Words to Our Now, by Thomas Glave: In this collection of personal, poetic, and political essays, Glave draws on his experiences as a gay Jamaican American to address the hypocrisy of the prejudices and hatreds that persist in the United States and elsewhere.
Dress Codes, by Noelle Howey: Howey's funny and sensitive memoir details her suburban childhood with a cross-dressing dad, his sexual transition, and the family's slow adjustment to it – ultimately challenging our beliefs in what constitutes gender and a “normal” family.
Sons, by Alphonso Morgan: Alphonso Morgan’s Sons is a coming of age story about a young gay man and his tragic first love.
Covering, by Kenji Yoshino: In his blistering analysis of the history of civil rights legislation, Kenji Yoshino indicts America for the rewards it bestows on those who "cover," or assimilate into mainstream America.
Lazarus, by Rashid Darded: Darden’s debut novel shows a slice of black college life rarely depicted in novels in a complex manner -- fraternities.
"Crash" directed by Paul Haggis: This extraordinary film presents a powerful, gut-wrenching examination of race and class in America by weaving together the stories of people of different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds as it challenges viewers to confront their own prejudices.
"Nightfighters" by Xenon Pictures: "Nightfighters" is a gripping documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black combat pilots, who distinguished themselves during numerous World War II combat missions.
"Get on the Bus" directed by Spike Lee: The film chronicles a bus trip beginning in Los Angeles and the passengers, all from vastly divergent ages, backgrounds, and beliefs, getting to know one another and discussing their respective reasons for making the trip to the Million Man March.
"A Day Without a Mexican" directed by Sergio Arau: In this satirical take on the current debate about the status of illegal immigrants in the US, all of California's Latino immigrants disappear overnight.
"Mississippi Masala" directed by Mira Nair: This thought-provoking romance presents a different take on interracial relationship - a love story between an African-American man and a South-Asian woman. The romance creates a backdrop that explores the cultural differences and shared humanity between minority communities in the American context as well as in the global context.
Come Hell or High Water, by Michael Eric Dyson: Combining interviews with survivors of the disaster with his deep knowledge of black migrations and government policy over decades, Dyson provides the historical context that has been sorely missing from public conversation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
From the Mississippi Delta, by Endesha Ida Mae Holland: This extraordinary memoir tells the civil rights story from the perspective of a woman who was born and raised in the mire of Mississippi's lethal brand of racial hatred.
Doméstica, by Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo: This sensitive study highlights the voices, experiences, and views of Mexican and Central American women who care for other people's children and homes, as well as the outlooks of the women who employ them.
Unbound Feet, by Judy Yung: Unbound Feet highlights the individual experiences of Chinese American women, examining issues that so far have been ignored in our textbooks.
The Covenant with Black America, edited by Tavis Smiley: Six years' worth of symposiums come together in this rich collection of essays that plot a course for African Americans, explaining how individuals and households can make changes that will immediately improve their circumstances in areas ranging from health and education to crime reduction and financial well-being.
The Known World, by Edward Jones: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2004, The Known World contradicts the conventional viewpoints we hold about slavery by exploring the world of prosperous free Blacks who owned slaves in the antebellum South.
Beyond the Down Low, by Keith Boykin: The "down low" - a term used to describe "straight" black men who have sex with men - is the subject of this plea for a responsible discussion about issues around the down low, including sexuality, gender, race, and AIDS.
At Canaan's Edge, by Taylor Branch: Beginning with the violent suppression of a voting rights march in Selma in 1965, and ending with King's assassination in 1968 in Memphis, Branch weaves together the myriad of stories, characters, and conflicts that made up this critical phase of the American civil rights movement.
Waiting for Gautreaux, by Alex Polikoff: The book chronicles the story of one of the most significant Supreme Court cases in the fair housing movement that aimed to end the concentration of poverty and race in public housing.
50 Years After Brown, by Anthony Asadullah Samad: The book assesses what equality truly means in America and whether Blacks have achieved it on the 50th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case that declared segregation unconstitutional.
Eyes Off the Prize, by Carol Anderson: Anderson makes the case for how Cold War paranoia and racism combined to effectively discredit the efforts of black leaders to obtain the "prize" of human rights in the United States, resulting in a retreat to a narrower civil rights agenda.
Awakening from the Dream, edited by Denise C. Morgan: This important book weaves the plight of real people with incisive legal essays documenting the devastating impact of the Supreme Court's Federalism Revolution on our society.
A Testament of Hope, by Martin Luther King, Jr.: Here, in Dr. King's own words, are his views on integration, black nationalism, nonviolence, social policy, and the ethics of love and hope.
The Working Poor, by David K. Shipler: Shipler profiles Americans who are working hard yet find themselves so close to the edge of poverty that a minor setback, such as a car breakdown or a temporary illness, can cause devastating chain reactions.
Translation Nation, by Hector Tobar: Contending that the United States' Latino population effectively constitutes a parallel nation, Tobar chronicles the experiences of Latino immigrants and their influence on the country's culture and identity.
Freshwater Road, by Denise Nicholas: Nicholas describes the experience of Celeste Tyree, a 19-year-old woman from Detroit, who travels to Mississippi during the summer of 1964 to work in a freedom school and help register black voters.
When Affirmative Action Was White, by Ira Katznelson: Katznelson's groundbreaking work fills in some of the history that is missing from discussions of race-based affirmative action.
Speak Truth to Power, by Kerry Kennedy Cuomo: The heroes from more than thirty-five countries and five continents interviewed by veteran human rights defender Cuomo speak with compelling eloquence on subjects to which they have devoted their lives and for which they have been imprisoned, tortured, and threatened with death.
War Against the Weak, by Edwin Black: The book is a great example of, and a grave warning about, how close America came to lawfully eliminating, through forced sterilization, the most vulnerable populations of its society - the poor, the uneducated, people with disabilities, and members of minority groups.
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, by Bette Bao Lord: A children's book that's not just for children. Educational, touching, and funny, this book describes the unique connection that forms between a young Shirley Temple Wong, a new Chinese immigrant to Brooklyn, and Jackie Robinson.
Yellow, by Frank Wu: Wu examines affirmative action, globalization, immigration, and other controversial contemporary issues through the lens of the Asian-American experience.
My Face Is Black Is True, by Mary Frances Berry: Berry reclaims a magnificent heroine by resurrecting the forgotten life of Callie House (1861-1928), ex-slave, widowed Nashville washerwoman, and mother of five who, seventy years before the civil rights movement, headed a demand for ex-slave reparations.
The Passion of My Times, by William Taylor: Part memoir, part advocacy, William Taylor's recollections highlight the enormous progress that has been made in civil rights and the long road ahead before the nation can be said to have truly achieved equal rights for all citizens.
Open Wide the Freedom Gates, by Dorothy Height: A heroine of the Civil Rights Movement tells the remarkable story of her life, her work, and what it means to be both black and a woman.
Judgment Days, by Nick Kotz: Thrust together in the aftermath of the John F. Kennedy assassination, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. seized a historic opportunity to make change and began a delicate dance of accommodation that moved them, and the entire nation, toward the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.