These books are a sample from our 2015–2016 Race Initiative Book Club, A free, drop-in club where attendees are given the time and space to think about their own experiences, to compare it to what has been read and to the experiences of others within the group, and to articulate the impact of those stories. Using the stories and examples from books we read as a catalyst to discussion helps us face and acknowledge our history, to listen, and to connect. You will also find an extensive PDF list of SHARE recommended books on the subject of race for your exploration.
W.E.B. Du Bois
A precursor to Baldwin and other great African American essayists of black protest, W.E.B. Dubois writes eloquently of the struggles and rights of blacks in America. This collection of essays was first published together in 1903 and was inspirational to the later civil rights movement. Dubois wrote that the greatest problem of the 20th century was the problem of the color line. Join us as we discuss the truth of that statement and the work of one of America’s great writers.
Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
Jason Reynolds | Brendan Kiely
All American Boys is a 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book. Authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely tell the story of how two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.
In Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson shares in vivid poems what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.
Although he spent a great deal of his life abroad, James Baldwin always remained a quintessentially American writer. Whether he was working in Paris or Istanbul, he never ceased to reflect on his experience as a black man in white America. In numerous essays, novels, plays and public speeches, the eloquent voice of James Baldwin spoke of the pain and struggle of black Americans and the saving power of brotherhood.— Amazon
"Each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other—male in female, female in male, white in black, and black in white. We are part of each other. Many of my countrymen appear to find this fact exceedingly inconvenient and even unfair, and so, very often, do I. But none of us can do anything about it." - James Baldwin in The Price of a Ticket.
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. ... The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be
When Jennifer Teege, a German-Nigerian woman, happened to pluck a library book from the shelf, she had no idea that her life would be irrevocably altered. Recognizing photos of her mother and grandmother in the book, she discovers a horrifying fact: Her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant chillingly depicted by Ralph Fiennes inSchindler’s List—a man known and reviled the world over.
Zora Neale Hurston
First published in 1942 at the height of her popularity, Dust Tracks on a Road is Zora Neale Hurston's candid, funny, bold, and poignant autobiography, an imaginative and exuberant account of her rise from childhood poverty in the rural South to a prominent place among the leadig artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance. As compelling as her acclaimed fiction, Hurston's very personal literary self-portrait offers a revealing, often audacious glimpse into the life – public and private – of an extraordinary artist, anthropologist, chronicler, and champion of the black experience in America. Full of the wit and wisdom of a proud, spirited woman who started off low and climbed high, Dust Tracks on a Road is a rare treasure from one of literature's most cherished voices.
Novelist, folklorist, anthropologist, product of the rural black South, and daughter of the Harlem Renaissance, [Hurston] spent her entire life struggling to keep her people’s cultural heritage alive.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
SHARE has complied this comprehensive list of books for further understating and education on the issue of race. The document is offered here as an Adobe PDF file.