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Critical Race Theory

This guide provides an overview of research strategies and resources on the topic of Critical Race Theory at the UNC School of Law.

Introduction

Critical Race Theory, though based in the study of law, is an interdisciplinary undertaking. An understanding of American history and attention to the experiences of marginalized groups has been central to the formation and development of Critical Race Theory. Perspectives on racial justice in the United States can be found not only in law journal articles and casebooks, but also in works of history, autobiography and memoir, poetry, novels, creative nonfiction, oral history interviews, and more. The works below provide context for a greater understanding not only of Critical Race Theory, but also the larger fight for racial justice in the United States.

Selected Works on Race in American History

General Overviews

 

An African-American and Latinx History of the United States, by Paul Ortiz. Available in print. An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a bottom-up history told from the viewpoint of African American and Latinx activists and revealing the radically different ways people of the diaspora addressed issues still plaguing the United States today.

A Black Women's History of the United States, by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross. Available in print. In centering Black women's stories, this work seeks both to empower African American women and to show that Black women's unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component of continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism.

From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, by John Hope Franklin. First edition available in print and online, second edition available in print and online, third edition available in print and online, fourth edition available in print and online, fifth edition available in print and online, sixth edition available in print and online, seventh edition available in print and online, eighth edition available in print, and ninth edition available in print. First published in 1947, this is a groundbreaking work on the history of African-Americans and the African diaspora in the Americas. Revised and updated many times to include new scholarship and current events, the text has become not only a foundational history, but each version marks a new chapter in the historiography of race in America.

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Available in print and online. Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.

Latino Immigrants in the United States, by Ronald L. Mize and Grace Peña Delgado. Available in print. This text provides a history of Latinx immigrants to the United States and covers major theorectical trends in Latinx Studies.

A People's History of the United States, 1492-2001, by Howard Zinn. Available in print. Zinn's classic work focuses on the story of American history from below - tracing the legacies and roles of Indigenous Americans, African-Americans, women, labor unions, and more over the course of American history.

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life, by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields. Available in print. Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference- the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. This text argues the opposite- the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what it calls 'racecraft'. And racecraft is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life.

Rebels in Law: Voices in History of Black Women Lawyers, by J. Clay Smith, Jr. Available in print and online. Rebels in Law tells a compelling story about the little-known involvement of black women in law and politics through their own writing.

The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927, by Jace Weaver. Available in print. From the earliest moments of European contact, Native Americans have played a pivotal role in the Atlantic experience, yet they often have been relegated to the margins of the region's historical record. The Red Atlantic synthesizes scholarship to place indigenous people of the Americas at the center of our understanding of the Atlantic world.

 

Slavery and the Antebellum Period in the U.S.

 

American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia, Edmund S. Morgan. Print. Morgan examines the origins and evolution of slavery in colonial Virginia.

Capitalism and Slavery, by Eric Williams. Available in print and online. Binding an economic view of history with strong moral argument, Williams's study of the role of slavery in financing the Industrial Revolution refuted traditional ideas of economic and moral progress and firmly established the centrality of the African slave trade in European economic development.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, by David W. Blight. Available in print. A comprehensive biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, by Edward E. Baptist. Available in print and online. Americans tend to cast slavery as a pre-modern institution, isolated in time and divorced from America's later success. But to do so robs the millions who suffered in bondage of their full legacy. Baptist examines how the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States.

Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, by Ira Berlin. Available in print and online. This text traces the evolution of black society from the first arrivals in the early 17th century through to the Revolution. In telling their story, Berlin reintegrates slaves into the history of the American working class and into the tapestry of the nation.

River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom, by Walter Johnson. Available in print and online. River of Dark Dreams places the Cotton Kingdom at the center of worldwide webs of exchange and exploitation that extended across oceans and drove an insatiable hunger for new lands. This reaccounting alters our understanding of American slavery and its role in U.S. expansionism, global capitalism, and the Civil War.

Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, Eugene Genovese. Print and online. This landmark history of slavery in the South challenged conventional views of enslaved people by illuminating the many forms of resistance to dehumanization that developed in slave society. Rather than emphasizing the cruelty and degradation of slavery, Genovese investigates the ways that enslaved people forced their owners to acknowledge their humanity through culture, music, and religion.

Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market, by Walter Johnson. Available in print and online. This work tells the story of slavery in antebellum America by moving away from the cotton plantations and into the slave market itself, the heart of the domestic slave trade. Focusing on the New Orleans, Johnson depicts the subtle interrelation of capitalism, paternalism, class consciousness, racism and resistance in the slave market.

White Over Black: American Attitudes Towards the Negro, 1550-1812, Winthrop Jordan. Print and online. This work examines the evolution of white Englishmen's and Anglo-Americans' perceptions of difference used to justify race-based slavery and liberty and justice for whites only. One of the definitive works on the history of race in America in the colonial era.

Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, by David W. Blight. Available in print and online. No historical event has left as deep an imprint on America's collective memory as the Civil War. In the war's aftermath, Americans had to embrace and cast off a traumatic past. David Blight explores the perilous path of remembering and forgetting, and reveals its tragic costs to race relations and America's national reunion.

 

Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Early Twentieth Century

 

Black Reconstruction in America, by W.E.B. DuBois. Available in print. The pioneering work in the study of the role of Black Americans during Reconstruction by the most influential Black intellectual of his time.

Defying Disfranchisement: Black Voting Rights Activism in the Jim Crow South, 1890-1908, by R. Volney Riser. Available in print. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Jim Crow strengthened rapidly and several southern states adopted new constitutions designed primarily to strip African American men of their right to vote. Desperate to save their ballots, black political leaders, attorneys, preachers, and activists fought back in the courts, sustaining that resistance until the nascent NAACP took over the legal battle.

Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920, by Glenda E. Gilmore. Available in print and online. In this work, Gilmore places black women at its center of southern political history. She explores the pivotal and interconnected roles played by gender and race in North Carolina politics from the period immediately preceding the disfranchisement of black men in 1900 to the time black and white women gained the vote in 1920. Gender and Jim Crow argues that the ideology of white supremacy embodied in the Jim Crow laws of the turn of the century profoundly reordered society and that within this environment, black women crafted an enduring tradition of political activism.

Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression, by Robin D.G. Kelley. Available in print and online. Hammer and Hoe tells the story of how, during the 1930s and 40s, Communists took on Alabama's repressive, racist police state to fight for economic justice, civil and political rights, and racial equality.

A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, From Slavery to the Great Migration, by Steven Hahn. Available in print and online. This is the story of how African-Americans, in the six decades following slavery, transformed themselves into a political people. As Hahn demonstrates, rural African-Americans were central political actors in the great events of disunion, emancipation, and nation-building.

Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, by Eric Foner. Available in print. The classic work on the post-Civil War period that shaped modern America.

The Science and Politics of Race in Mexico and the United States, 1910-1950, by Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt. Available in print and online. Rosemblatt reveals intricate connections among the development of science, the concept of race, and policies toward indigenous peoples.

The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901-1960, by Pete Daniel. Available in print and online. Whether peonage grew out of slavery or whether employers distorted laws and customs to create debt servitude, most Southerners quietly accepted peonage. To the employer it was a way to control laborers; to the peon it was a bewildering system that could not be escaped without risk of imprisonment, beating, or death. Daniel's book is about this largely ignored form of twentieth-century slavery.

Slavery By Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II, by Douglas Blackmon. Available in print. Following the Emancipation Proclamation, convicts—mostly black men—were “leased” through forced labor camps operated by state and federal governments. Blackmon uses a vast record of original documents and personal narratives to explore this topic.

The Strange Career of Jim Crow, C. Vann Woodward. 1st edition print, 2nd edition print and online, 3rd edition print and online, commemorative edition print. Published in 1955, a year after the Supreme Court in Brown v Board of Education ordered schools desegregated, Strange Career was cited so often to counter arguments for segregation that Martin Luther King, Jr. called it "the historical Bible of the civil rights movement." The book offers a clear and illuminating analysis of the history of Jim Crow laws, presenting evidence that segregation in the South dated only to the 1890s. The main text remains the same across editions, but the introductory material changes.

Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. Du Bois. Available in print and online. In this collection of essays, first published in 1903, Du Bois describes the magnitude of American racism and demand an end to it. He draws on his own life for illustration, from his early experiences teaching in the hills of Tennessee to the death of his infant son and his historic break with the conciliatory position of Booker T. Washington.

Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South, ed. W. Fitzhugh Brundage. Available in print and online. Covering a broad spectrum of methodologies, these essays further expand the study of lynching by exploring such topics as same-race lynchings, black resistance to white violence, and the political motivations for lynching.

Up From Slavery: An Autobiography, by Booker T. Washington. Available in print and online in multiple versions. Reprinted many times, with varying introductions and supplementary material, Up From Slavery is the story of how Washington rose from slavery to become one of the most prominent educators and intellectuals in early twentieth century America.

Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice, by David. M. Oshinsky. Available in print and online. Oshinsky traces the story of the notorious prison, drawing on police records, prison documents, folklore, blues songs, and oral history, from the days of cotton-field chain gangs to the 1960s, when Parchman was used to break the wills of civil rights workers who journeyed south on Freedom Rides.

 

The Long Civil Rights Movement

 

Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy, Mary Dudziak. Available in print. Dudziak interprets postwar civil rights as a Cold War feature, arguing that the Cold War helped facilitate key social reforms, including desegregation. Civil rights activists gained tremendous advantage as the government sought to polish its international image. But improving the nation's reputation did not always require real change. This focus on image rather than substance--combined with constraints on McCarthy-era political activism and the triumph of law-and-order rhetoric--limited the nature and extent of progress.

The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena, by Thomas Borstalmann. Available in print and online. After World War II the U.S. faced two preeminent challenges: how to administer its responsibilities abroad as the world's strongest power, and how to manage the rising movement at home for racial justice and civil rights.

The Color of America Has Changed: How Racial Diversity Shaped Civil Rights Reform in California, 1941-1978, by Mark Brilliant. Available in print and online. This book examines the Civil Rights Movement in the West in order to bring the West to the Civil Rights Movement. It explores the challenge that California's racial diversity posed for building a multiracial civil rights movement, focusing on litigation and legislation initiatives advanced by civil rights reformers (lawyers, legislators, and advocacy organizations) on behalf of the state's different racial groups.

The Color of the Law: Race, Violence, and Justice in the Post-WWII South, by Gail Williams O'Brien. Available in print and online. O'Brien tells the story of the 1946 Columbia, Tennessee "race riot," the national attention it drew, and its surprising legal aftermath. In the process, she illuminates the effects of World War II on race relations and the criminal justice system in the United States. O'Brien argues that the Columbia events are emblematic of a nationwide shift during the 1940s from mob violence against African Americans to increased confrontations between blacks and the police and courts.

Consuming Mexican Labor: From the Bracero Program to NAFTA, by Ronald L. Mize and Alicia C.S. Swords. Available online and in print. This work examines the history of Mexican labor in the U.S., including the effect of government and corporate programs enabled by federal law.

A Different Shade of Justice: Asian American Civil Rights in the South, by Stephanie Hinnershitz. Available in print and online. From the formation of Chinese and Japanese communities in the early twentieth century through Indian hotel owners' battles against business discrimination in the 1980s and '90s, Hinnershitz shows how Asian Americans organized carefully constructed legal battles that often traveled to the state and federal supreme courts.

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: a Radical Democratic Vision, by Barbara Ransby. Available in print and online. In this deeply researched biography, Ransby chronicles Baker's long and rich political career as an organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher, from her early experiences in depression-era Harlem to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, by Raymond Arsenault. Available in print and online. The definitive account of the 1961 Freedom Rides.

Indians on the Move: Native American Mobility and Urbanization in the Twentieth Century, by Douglas K. Miller. Available in print. n 1972, the Bureau of Indian Affairs terminated its twenty-year-old Voluntary Relocation Program, which encouraged the mass migration of roughly 100,000 Native American people from rural to urban areas. Native Americans used the urban relocation program to take greater control of their socioeconomic circumstances. Indigenous migrants also used the financial, educational, and cultural resources they found in cities to feed new expressions of Indigenous sovereignty both off and on the reservation.

I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle, by Charles Payne. First edition in print and online. Second edition in print and online. This is a groundbreaking work on the early Civil Rights Movement in the South.

The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change, by Aldon D. Morris. Available in print and online. Morris tells the complete story behind the ten years that transformed America, tracing the essential role of the black community organizations that was the real power behind the civil rights movement.

Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-2006, by Manning Marable. Available in print and online. Since its original publication in 1984, Race, Reform, and Rebellion has become widely known as the most crucial political and social history of African Americans since World War II.  This acclaimed study traces the divergent elements of political, social, and moral reform in nonwhite America since 1945.

Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution, by Serena Meyeri. Available in print and online. Informed in 1944 that she was "not of the sex" entitled to be admitted to Harvard Law School, African American activist Pauli Murray confronted the injustice she called "Jane Crow." In the 1960s and 1970s, the analogies between sex and race discrimination pioneered by Murray became potent weapons in the battle for women's rights, as feminists borrowed rhetoric and legal arguments from the civil rights movement.

Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer, by Kenneth W. Mack. Available in print and online. Representing the Race tells the story of an enduring paradox of American race relations, through the prism of a collective biography of African American lawyers who worked in the era of segregation. Practicing the law and seeking justice for diverse clients, they confronted a tension between their racial identity as black men and women and their professional identity as lawyers.

Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South, by John Egerton. Available in print and online. Egerton's account of the early struggle for desegregation in the South starts in the Depression and ends in the mid-'50s with the historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Speak Now Against the Day covers the whole South, but also pays close attention to North Carolina and the history of UNC in particular.

 

The Black Radical Tradition

 

The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, by Paul Gilroy. Available in print. Gilroy argues that there is a culture that is not specifically African, American, Caribbean, or British, but all of these at once, a black Atlantic culture whose themes and techniques transcend ethnicity and nationality to produce something new.

Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, by Cedric Robinson. Available in print and online. Cedric Robinson demonstrates that efforts to understand black people's history of resistance solely through the prism of Marxist theory are incomplete and inaccurate. This text traces the emergence of Marxist ideology in Europe, the resistance by blacks in historically oppressive environments, and the influence of both of these traditions on such important twentieth-century black radical thinkers as W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, and Richard Wright.

Free the Land: The Republic of New Afrika and the Pursuit of a Black Nation State, by Edward Onaci. Onaci explores the history of the Republic of New Afrika and the New Afrikan Independence Movement.

Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, by Robin D.G. Kelley. Available in print and online. Kelley unearths freedom dreams in this history of intellectuals and artists of the African diaspora in the twentieth century. Focusing on the visions of activists from C. L. R. James to Aime Cesaire and Malcolm X, Kelley writes of the hope that Communism offered, the mindscapes of Surrealism, the transformative potential of radical feminism, and of the four-hundred-year-old dream of reparations for slavery and Jim Crow.

From Toussaint to Tupac: The Black International Since the Age of Revolution, ed. Michael O. West, William G. Martin, & Fanon Che Wilkins. Available in print and online. Transcending geographic and cultural lines, From Toussaint to Tupac is an ambitious collection of essays exploring black internationalism and its implications for a black consciousness.

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. Available in print. The Combahee River Collective, a path-breaking group of radical black feminists, was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the antiracist and women's liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection of essays and interviews edited by Taylor, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to Black feminism and its impact on today's struggles.

 

Post Civil Rights

 

Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life, by Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria Robinson. Available in print and online. Drawing on film, fiction, music, and oral history, this text traces the Black American experience of race, place, and liberation, mapping it from Emancipation to now. As the United States moves toward a majority minority society, Chocolate Cities provides a provocative, broad, and necessary assessment of how racial and ethnic minorities make and change America's social, economic, and political landscape.

Front Porch Politics: The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s, by Michael Stewart Foley. Available in print. It's widely believed that Americans retreated to the private realm after the public tumult of the 1960s. This text demonstrates that the 1970s and 1980s witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of innovative and impassioned political activity on the community level.

Latino Immigrants and the Transformation of the U.S. South, ed. Mary E. Odum and Elaine Lacy. Available in print. The mass migration of Latin Americans to the U.S. South has led to profound changes in the social, economic, and cultural life of the region and inaugurated a new era in southern history. This multi-disciplinary collection of essays, written by U.S. and Mexican scholars, explores these transformations in rural, urban, and suburban areas of the South.

Nuevo South: Latinas/os, Asians, and The Remaking of Place, by Perla M. Guerrero. Available in print. Nuevo South offers the first comparative study showing how Latinas/os and Asians are transforming race and place in the contemporary South. Integrating political, economic, and social analysis, Guerrero examines the reception of Vietnamese, Cubans, and Mexicans in northwestern Arkansas communities that were almost completely white until the mid-1970s.

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, by Keenga-Yamahtta Taylor. Available in print and online. Taylor uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining's end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties. Meanwhile, new policies meant to encourage low-income homeownership created new methods to exploit Black homeowners.

Racial Propositions: Ballot Initiatives and the Making of Postwar California, by Danial Martinez HoSang. Available online and in print. Through his examination of ballot propositions in California, HoSang uncovers connections between the right and left that reveal how racial inequality has endured. Arguing that each of these measures was a proposition about the meaning of race and racism, his deft, convincing analysis ultimately recasts the production of racial identity, inequality, and power in the postwar era.

This Ain't Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South, by Zandria Robinson. Available in print and online. Robinson critiques ideas of black identity constructed through a northern lens and situates African Americans as central shapers of contemporary southern culture. Analytically separating black southerners from their migrating cousins, fictive kin, and white counterparts, Robinson demonstrates how place intersects with race, class, gender, and regional identities and differences.

You Can't Eat Freedom: Southerners and Social Justice After the Civil Rights Movement, by Greta de Jong. Available in print and online. Focusing on the plantation regions of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, this text analyses how social justice activists responded to mass unemployment by lobbying political leaders, initiating anti-poverty projects, and forming cooperative enterprises that fostered economic and political autonomy, efforts that encountered strong opposition from free market proponents who opposed government action.

 

Recent Popular Titles

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Available in print and online. In a work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Coates offers a framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. 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?

Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence, ed. Chad Williams, Kidada E. Williams, and Keisha N. Blain. Available in print. Charleston Syllabus is a reader--a collection of new essays and columns published in the wake of the 2015 Charleston Massacre, along with selected excerpts from key existing scholarly books and general-interest articles. The collection draws from a variety of disciplines--history, sociology, urban studies, law, and critical race theory.

The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein. Available in print. Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, contests the myth that America's cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation--that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. The Color of Law makes clear that de jure segregation--the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments--promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland, by Jonathan M. Metzl. Available in print. Physician and sociologist Metzl travels across America's heartland seeking to better understand the politics of racial resentment and its impact on public health.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, by Brittany Cooper. Available in print. Far too often, Black women's anger has been caricatured into an ugly and destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of American democracy. But Cooper shows us that there is more to the story than that.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond. Available in print. Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads, transforming our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America's most devastating problems.

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century, by Dorothy Roberts. Available in print. Moving from an account of the evolution of race--proving that it has always been a mutable and socially defined political division supported by mainstream science--Roberts delves deep into the current debates, interrogating the newest science and biotechnology, interviewing its researchers, and exposing the political consequences obscured by the focus on genetic difference.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, ed. Jesmyn Ward. Available in print. Ward gathered short essays, memoir, and a few essential poems to engage the question of race in the United States. And she turned to some of her generation's most original thinkers and writers to give voice to their concerns, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Garnette Cadogan, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Mitchell S. Jackson, Honoree Jeffers, Kima Jones, Kiese Laymon, Daniel Jose Older, Emily Raboteau, Claudia Rankine, Clint Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, by Angela Davis. Available in print and online. Activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis has been a tireless fighter against oppression for decades. In this work, she reflects on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism and discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She also highlights connections and analyzes today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.

From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. Available in print and online. Activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and the persistence of structural inequality, such as mass incarceration and black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for black liberation.

How to Be An Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi. Available in print and online. Kendi explores a widening circle of antiracist ideas--from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities--that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.  This text combines ethics, history, law, and science with Kendi's personal story of awakening to antiracism.

Minor Feelings: An Asian-American Reckoning, by Cathy Park Hong.  Available online. Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America.

So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. Available in print. Oluo guides readers through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to "model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi. Available in print. Kendi chronicles the story of anti-black racist ideas and their power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement, by Wesley Lowery. Available in print. Conducting hundreds of interviews during the course of over one year reporting on the ground, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled from Ferguson, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland; and then back to Ferguson to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today.

Thick: and Other Essays, by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Available in print and online. These essays explore beauty, media, money, race,, and more in contemporary America.

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, by Robin DiAngelo. Available in print and online. Antiracist educator DiAngelo illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth About Our Racial Divide, by Carol Anderson. Available in print and online. By examining historical flashpoints when social progress for African Americans was countered by deliberate and cleverly crafted opposition, Anderson pulls back the veil that has long covered actions made in the name of protecting democracy, fiscal responsibility, or protection against fraud, rendering visible the long lineage of white rage.

 

Essays

 

Hari Kunzru, "The Wages of Whiteness," the New York Review of Books, September 24, 2020. Kunzru examines the politics of whiteness, including its depiction in recent popular works about race.

Melissa Phruksachart, "The Literature of White Liberalism," the Boston Review, August 21, 2020. This article reviews many recent popular works on anti-racism and racial justice. Phruksachart argues that though the genre seeks to educate white readers about race, but it does not center more powerful critiques from the Black radical tradition.

Oral History Collections

Southern Oral History Program, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Since 1973, the Southern Oral History Program has worked to preserve the voices of the southern past. The SOHP has collected 6,000 interviews with people from all walks of life—from mill workers to civil rights leaders to future presidents of the United States. Made available through UNC’s renowned Southern Historical Collection online, these interviews capture the vivid personalities, poignant personal stories, and behind-the-scenes decision-making that bring history to life.

Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and Joel Buchanan African American Oral History Archives, University of Florida.  The archives of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program’s oral history collections feature over 6,500 interviews. The Buchanan Collection in particular has many interviews on the Civil Rights Movement, life under Jim Crow, and other aspects of African-American history.

Behind the Veil Project, Duke University. This collection highlights the voices of Black men and women who lived under Jim Crow segregation throughout the South.

History Makers, a nonprofit oral history archive based in Chicago, Illinois. Their archives include voices of both well-known and everyday African Americans from all over the United States.