February marks Black History Month, but how about adding some reads to your TBR stack all year round? From towering figures like Martin Luther King, Jr to the lesser-known pioneers who broke the NFL color barrier, these books uplift the lives and legacies of trailblazing Black Americans who have fought for racial justice, equality, and freedom throughout this country’s history.
by John Lewis
Foreword by Andrew Young
With Kabir Sehgal
A brilliant and empowering collection of final reflections and words of wisdom from venerable civil rights champion, the late Congressman John Lewis at the end of his remarkable life.
Congressman John Lewis was a paragon of the Civil Rights Movement and political leadership for decades. A hero we won’t soon forget, Lewis was a beacon of hope and a model of humility whose invocation to “good trouble” continues to inspire millions across our nation. In his last months on earth, even while battling cancer, he dedicated time to share his memories, beliefs, and advice—exclusively immortalized in these pages—as a message to the generations to come.
Organized by topic ranging from justice, courage, faith, mentorship, and forgiveness to the protests and the pandemic, and many more besides, Carry On collects the late Congressman’s thoughts for readers to draw on whenever they are in need of guidance. John Lewis had great confidence in our future, even as he died in the midst of one of our country’s most challenging years to date. With this book, he performs that crucial passing of the baton, empowering us to live up to the legacy he has left us with his perseverance, dedication, profound insight, and unwavering ability to see the good in life.
by Curtis Bunn
by Patrice Gaines
by Nick Charles
by Keith Harriston
An incisive, gripping exploration of the forces that pushed our unjust system to its breaking point after the death of George Floyd and a definitive guide to America's present-day racial reckoning.
In SAY THEIR NAMES, five seasoned journalists probe this critical shift. With a piercing examination of how inequality has been propagated throughout history, from Black imprisonment and the Convict Leasing program to long-standing predatory medical practices to over-policing, the authors highlight the disparities that have long characterized the dangers of being Black in America. They examine the many moderate attempts to counteract these inequalities, from the modern Civil Rights movement to Ferguson, and how the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others pushed compliance with an unjust system to its breaking point. Finally, they outline the momentous changes that have resulted from this movement, while at the same time proposing necessary next steps to move forward.
With a combination of penetrating, focused journalism and affecting personal insight, the authors bring together their collective years of reporting, creating a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of racial inequality in America.
by Yusef Salaam
This inspirational memoir serves as a call to action from prison reform activist Yusef Salaam, of the Exonerated Five, that will inspire us all to turn our stories into tools for change in the pursuit of racial justice.
They didn't know who they had.
So begins Yusef Salaam telling his story. No one's life is the sum of the worst things that happened to them, and during Yusef Salaam's seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five, he grew from child to man, and gained a spiritual perspective on life. Yusef learned that we're all "born on purpose, with a purpose." Despite having confronted the racist heart of America while being "run over by the spiked wheels of injustice," Yusef channeled his energy and pain into something positive, not just for himself but for other marginalized people and communities.
Better Not Bitter is the first time that one of the now Exonerated Five is telling his individual story, in his own words. Yusef writes his narrative: growing up Black in central Harlem in the '80s, being raised by a strong, fierce mother and grandmother, his years of incarceration, his reentry, and exoneration. Yusef connects these stories to lessons and principles he learned that gave him the power to survive through the worst of life's experiences. He inspires readers to accept their own path, to understand their own sense of purpose. With his intimate personal insights, Yusef unpacks the systems built and designed for profit and the oppression of Black and Brown people. He inspires readers to channel their fury into action, and through the spiritual, to turn that anger and trauma into a constructive force that lives alongside accountability and mobilizes change.
This memoir is an inspiring story that grew out of one of the gravest miscarriages of justice, one that not only speaks to a moment in time or the rage-filled present, but reflects a 400-year history of a nation's inability to be held accountable for its sins. Yusef Salaam's message is vital for our times, a motivating resource for enacting change. Better, Not Bitter has the power to soothe, inspire and transform. It is a galvanizing call to action.
by Bob Glauber
The unknown story of the Black pioneers who collectively changed the face of the NFL in 1946.
THE FORGOTTEN FIRST chronicles the lives of four incredible men, the racism they experienced as Black players entering a segregated sport, the burden of expectation they carried, and their many achievements, which would go on to affect football for generations to come.
More than a year before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, there was another seismic moment in pro sports history. On March 21,1946, former UCLA star running back Kenny Washington—a teammate of Robinson's in college—signed a contract with the Los Angeles Rams. This ended one of the most shameful periods in NFL history, when African-American players were banned from league play.
Washington would not be alone in serving as a pioneer for NFL integration. Just months after he joined the Rams, thanks to a concerted effort by influential Los Angeles political and civic leaders, the team signed Woody Strode, who played with both Washington and Robinson at UCLA in one of the most celebrated backfields in college sports history. And that same year, a little-known coach named Paul Brown of the fledgling Cleveland Browns signed running back Marion Motley and defensive lineman Bill Willis, thereby integrating a startup league that would eventually merge with the NFL.
THE FORGOTTEN FIRST tells the story of one of the most significant cultural shifts in pro football history, as four men opened the door to opportunity and changed the sport forever.
Foreword by Dr. Bernice A King
Read the detailed and absorbing chronicle of Martin Luther King's leadership during the most tumultuous period in America's recent past—featuring a foreword by Dr. Bernice King.
Hailed as America’s greatest civil rights advocate, Martin Luther King, Jr., inspired the people of the United States to demand equality, regardless of the color of their skin. And he did it peacefully.
Time may have passed, but in today’s world, his teachings are needed more than ever. Drawing from the actions of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, each section identifies the key leadership skills he displayed, such as:
- Practice what you preach
- Take direct action, without waiting for other agencies to act
- Give credit where credit is due
- Laws only declare rights, they do not deliver them
- And much more...
This acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel of hope and terror from an award-winning author "pairs well with 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale" and includes a foreword by N. K. Jemisin (John Green, New York Times).
When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others' emotions.
Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.