We stand against racism and violence toward the Black community. And we commit to listening—to our readers, our authors, and to our teams—as we work toward becoming part of the change.

This list of books about black activism celebrates notable African Americans who have changed, and continue to change, the culture and politics of the United States. This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a place to start.

Black Lives Matter.
Black Voices Matter.
Black Stories Matter.


Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

“[Bryan Stevenson’s] dedication to fighting for justice and equality has inspired me and many others and made a lasting impact on our country.”—John Legend

Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Teacher’s Guide.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.

Click to Watch Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talk.

Click to Watch the Movie Trailer Just Mercy.
(Free to stream through June 2020.)

 


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A thrillingly illuminating new framework for understanding race: its history, our contemporary dilemma, and where we go from here.

“I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’s journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory. This is required reading.”—Toni Morrison

Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide.

Click for a Teacher’s Guide.

Listen to a Clip from an Audiobook.


Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

Trayvon Martin’s parents take readers beyond the news cycle with an account only they could give: the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement.

“Not since Emmitt Till has a parent’s love for a murdered child moved the nation to search its soul about racial injustice and inequality. Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin’s extraordinary witness, indomitable spirit and unwavering demand for change have altered the dynamics of racial justice discourse in this country.  This powerful book illuminates the witness, the grief, and the commitment to reform that Trayvon Martin’s death has mobilized; it is a story fueled by a demand for justice but rooted in love.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

Available in Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Since first being published in 2010, The New Jim Crow has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

“It is in no small part thanks to Alexander’s account that civil rights organizations such as Black Lives Matter have focused so much of their energy on the criminal justice system.” —Adam Shatz, London Review of Books

Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, and eBook Editions.


Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore, a kaleidoscopic account of five days in the life of a city on the edge, told through eight characters on the front lines of the uprising that overtook Baltimore and riveted the world.

“Moore captures the fear, anger, uncertainty, and hope of locals who saw their city fall apart and struggle to come back together. . . . Moore provides important context in the history of Baltimore’s racial and income inequality and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Readers will be enthralled by this propulsive account.”—Publishers Weekly

Available in Hardcover, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.

Click to Watch Wes Moore Speak About Five Days.

 


HOOD FEMINISM_Books About Black ActivismHood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

A potent and electrifying critique of today’s feminist movement announcing a fresh new voice in Black feminism.

“Kendall is a highly knowledgeable and inspiring guide, and she effectively builds on the work of black women who have, for ages, been working to better the lives of themselves and their communities . . . A much-needed addition to feminist discourse.”—Kirkus Reviews

Available in Hardcover, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope by DeRay Mcesson

From the internationally recognized civil rights activist/organizer and host of the podcast Pod Save the People, a meditation on resistance, justice, and freedom, and an intimate portrait of a movement from the front lines.

“By turns lyrical reflection and practical handbook, On the Other Side of Freedom reveals the mind and motivations of a young man who has risen to the fore of millennial activism through study, discipline, and conviction. His belief in a world that can be made better, one act at a time, powers his narratives and opens up a view on the costs, consequences, and rewards of leading a movement.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Available in Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


MALCOLM X_Books About Black ActivismThe Autobiography of Malcom X by Malcom X

This book stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.

“Malcolm X’s autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline, forged through sheer force of will.”—Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father

Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Mass Market, and eBook Editions

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Teacher’s Guide.


We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities by Zach Norris

A groundbreaking new vision for public safety that overturns more than 200 years of fear-based discrimination, othering, and punishment.

“Bright, talented, compassionate, strategic, and committed . . . Norris’s insights and story will be an enormously important contribution in the effort to advance human rights in this country.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

Available in Hardcover and eBook Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.


I CAN'T BREATHE_Books About Black ActivismI Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street by Matt Taibbi

A work of riveting literary journalism that explores the roots and repercussions of the infamous killing of Eric Garner by the New York City police—from the bestselling author of The Divide.

“Brilliant . . . Taibbi is unsparing is his excoriation of the system, police, and courts . . . This is a necessary and riveting work.”—Booklist, starred review

Available in Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


UNAPOLOGETIC_Books About Black ActivismUnapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Our Movement by Charlene A. Curruthers

A manifesto from one of America’s most influential activists which disrupts political, economic, and social norms by reimagining the Black Radical Tradition.

“Timely and important, Carruthers’ book is a strong testament to the resilience of the radical black liberation movement as well as an impassioned appeal to continue the fight for social justice in a political environment characterized by increasing hostility to equality and difference. Powerful, potent reading.”—Kirkus Reviews

Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, and eBook Editions.


The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness by Rhonda V. Magee

It is only by healing from injustices and dissolving our personal barriers to connection that we develop the ability to view others with compassion and to live in community with people of vastly different backgrounds and viewpoints. Incorporating mindfulness exercises, research, and Magee’s hard-won insights, The Inner Work of Racial Justice offers a road map to a more peaceful world.

“Illuminates the very heart of social justice and how it might be approached and nurtured through mindfulness practices in community and through the discernment and new degrees of freedom these practices entrain.” —from the foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Available in Hardcover, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


Taking a Knee, Taking a Stand: African American Athletes and the Fight for Social Justice by Bob Schron

A history of the activism and achievement of African American athletes from Jesse Owens to Serena Williams to Colin Kaepernick, who advanced the cause of social justice through their outspokenness, commitment, and integrity.

“When NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt in protest during the national anthem, he set off a firestorm of yays and nays that still burns. He also reminded us of the long and honorable tradition of athlete-activists in the African American community, captured here by veteran sports writer Schron in a crisp, impassioned narrative that moves from the quiet heroism of Jesse Owens and Joe Louis through Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and Olympic black power salutes to the Williams Sisters. Not just for sports fans; this is important history.”—Library Journal

Available in Hardcover and eBook Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.


SISTER OUTSIDER_Books About Black ActivismSister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

The essential writings of black lesbian poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider celebrates an influential voice in twentieth-century literature, with a foreword by Mahogany L. Browne.

Sister Outsider‘s teachings, by one of our most revered elder stateswomen, should be read by everyone.” —Essence

Available in Hardcover.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

 


NOTES FROM THE FIELD_Books About Black ActivismNotes from the Field by Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith’s extraordinary form of documentary theater shines a light on injustices by portraying the real-life people who have experienced them. Their voices bear powerful witness to a great iniquity of our time—and call us to action with their accounts of resistance and hope.

“Anna Deavere Smith has created one of her most ambitious and powerful works on how matters of race continue to divide and enslave the nation.”—Variety

Available in Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


More Resources for Readers:

 

Click for an Anti-Racist Reading List.

Click for More Anti-Racist Books and Resources for Our Readers.

Click for Anti-Racist Audiobook Recommendations.

Click for Reads that Chronicle Black History.

Click for Reads to Celebrate Juneteenth.

Click for Books from Penguin Young Readers.

Click for Books from Random House Children’s Books.

Maureen Meekins administrator

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *