The library collection includes many titles on anti-racism.  We have compiled reading lists to share on this timely and important topic. This week, we’re featuring more adult non-fiction.  We’ll be featuring more of these lists in the coming weeks, including fiction titles for adults and books for youth.  Please click on the title to reserve a copy of the book in our catalog.

We’re going to need more wine: stories that are funny, complicated, and true by Gabrielle Union

In the spirit of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, a powerful collection of essays about gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood, and what it means to be a modern woman. One month before the release of the highly anticipated film The Birth of a Nation, actress Gabrielle Union shook the world with a vulnerable and impassioned editorial in which she urged our society to have compassion for victims of sexual violence. In the wake of rape allegations made against director and actor Nate Parker, Union—a forty-four-year-old actress who launched her career with roles in iconic ’90s movies—instantly became the insightful, outspoken actress that Hollywood has been desperately awaiting. With honesty and heartbreaking wisdom, she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault: “It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real.” In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. 

Race against time: a reporter reopens the unsolved murder cases of the Civil Rights era by Jerry Mitchell

An award-winning investigative reporter shares the real-life detective story of how Klansmen came to justice in notorious unsolved civil rights cold cases–decades after they had gotten away with murder.

Stony the road: Reconstruction, white supremacy, and the rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates jr.

A profound new rendering of the struggle by African-Americans for equality after the Civil War and the violent counter-revolution that resubjugated them, as seen through the prism of the war of images and ideas that have left an enduring racist stain on the American mind. The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked ‘a new birth of freedom’ in Lincoln’s America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the ‘nadir’ of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance. 

Between the world and me  by Ta-Nehisi Coates

For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he’s sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him — most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear. What were they afraid of? In Tremble for My Country, Coates takes readers along on his journey through America’s history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings — moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago’s South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America’s ‘long war on black people, ‘ or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police. 

Breathe: a letter to my sons by Imani Perry

Perry offers an unfettered expression of love–finding beauty and possibility in life–and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition. She shares vulnerabilities and insight from her own life and from encounters in places as varied as the West Side of Chicago; Birmingham, Alabama; and New England prep schools. Breathe offers a broader meditation on race, gender, and the meaning of a life well lived and is also an unforgettable lesson in Black resistance and resilience.

I can’t breathe: a killing on Bay Street by Matt Taibbi

A work of literary journalism that explores the roots and repercussions of the infamous killing of Eric Garner by the New York City police in 2014.

We were eight years in power: an American tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.” But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period—and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. 

Rest in power: the enduring life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

An intimate portrait of Trayvon Martin shares previously untold insights into the movement he inspired from the perspectives of his parents, who also describe their efforts to bring meaning to his short life through the movement’s pursuit of redemption and justice.

We are the change we seek: the speeches of Barack Obama edited by E.J. Dionne Jr. and Joy-Ann Reid

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Rediscovering Ourselves: an anthology edited by Glory Edim

An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives–but not everyone regularly sees themselves on the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all–regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability–have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature.