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Books & Authors, Diverse Voices

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is January 17th this year. We can celebrate by honoring his memory, and we can take a look at the writing of some of these modern day civil rights leaders.

 

Beyond the Messy Truth: how we came apart, how we come together by Van Jones
The CNN political contributor and host presents a deeply impassioned manifesto on how to transform political disputes into peaceful, effective changes, tracing the growth of the nonpartisan LoveArmy, the achievements of today's less-hailed but important activists and his recommendations for embracing patriotism.

Just Mercy : A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson
In this very personal work--adapted from the original #1 bestseller, which the New York Times calls "as compelling as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so"--renowned lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson offers a glimpse into the lives of the wrongfully imprisoned and his efforts to fight for their freedom as the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson's story is one of working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society--the poor, the wrongly convicted, and those whose lives have been marked by discrimination and marginalization.

Martin's Dream: my journey and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by Clayborne Carson
On August 28, 1963 hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flocked to the nation's capital for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. It was Clayborne Carson's first demonstration. A nineteen year old black student from a working-class family in New Mexico, Carson hitched a ride to Washington. Unsure how he would return home, he was nonetheless certain that he wanted to connect with the youthful protesters and community organizers who spearheaded the freedom struggle. Decades later, Coretta Scott King selected Dr. Carson--then a history professor at Stanford University-- to edit the papers of her late husband. In this candid and engrossing memoir, he traces his evolution from political activist to activist scholar. He vividly recalls his involvement in the movement's heyday and in the subsequent turbulent period when King's visionary Dream became real for some and remained unfulfilled for others. He recounts his conversations with key African Americans of the past half century, including Black Power firebrand Stokely Carmichael and dedicated organizers such as Ella Baker and Bob Moses. His description of his long-term relationship with Coretta Scott King sheds new light on her crucial role in preserving and protecting her late husband's legacy. Written from the unique perspective of a renowned scholar, this highly readable account gives readers valuable new insights about the global significance of King's inspiring ideas and his still unfolding legacy.

Our Time is Now: purpose, power, and the fight for a fair America by Stacey Abrams
Voter suppression has plagued America since its inception, and so has the issue of identity-who is really American and what that means. When tied together, as they are in our modern politics, citizens are harmed in overt, subtle, and even personal ways. Stacey Abrams experienced the effects firsthand, running one of the most unconventional races in modern politics as the Democratic nominee for the governorship in Georgia and the first black woman major party nominee in American history. Abrams did not become governor, but she will not concede. And the reason she won't is because democracy failed voters. However, fixing suppression isn't enough unless we understand how it works and how identity plays a pivotal role. Suppression and identity altered the 2016 presidential election-and will do the same in 2020. But progress can win, and here Abrams lays out how. In Our Time Is Now, Abrams draws on extensive national research from her voter rights organization, Fair Fight Action, and her 2020 Census effort, Fair Count, as well as moving and personal anecdotes from her own life. Abrams weaves together the experiences of those who have fought for the vote and the right to be seen throughout our nation's history, linking them with how law and policy deny real political power. So much hangs in the balance for the 2020 election, and the stakes could not be higher. Our Time Is Now will galvanize those seeking change. It will be a critical book by the expert on fair voting and access that will show us where we fall short, who America is now, and most importantly, empower us to become the democracy we're meant to be

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status - much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community - and all of us - to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

The Purpose of Power: how we come together when we fall apart by Alicia Garza
With the speed and networking capacities of social media, #BlackLivesMatter became the hashtag heard 'round the world. But Garza knew even then that hashtags don't start movements--people do. Long before #BlackLivesMatter became a rallying cry for this generation, Garza had spent the better part of two decades learning and unlearning some hard lessons about organizing. The lessons she offers are different from the "rules for radicals" that animated earlier generations of activists, and diverge from the charismatic, patriarchal model of the American civil rights movement. She reflects instead on how making room amongst the woke for those who are still awakening can inspire and activate more people to fight for the world we all deserve. This is the story of one woman's lessons through years of bringing people together to create change. Most of all, it is a new paradigm for change for a new generation of changemakers, from the mind and heart behind one of the most important movements of our time.

You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience by Random House
It started as a text between two friends. Tarana Burke, founder of the 'me too.' Movement, texted researcher and writer, Brené Brown, to see if she was free to jump on a call. Brené assumed that Tarana wanted to talk about wallpaper. They had been trading home decorating inspiration boards in their last text conversation so Brené started scrolling to find her latest Pinterest pictures when the phone rang. But it was immediately clear to Brené that the conversation wasn't going to be about wallpaper. Tarana's hello was serious and she hesitated for a bit before saying, "Brené, you know your work affected me so deeply. It's been a huge gift in my life. But as a Black woman, I've sometimes had to feel like I have to contort myself to fit into some of your words. The core of it rings so true for me, but the application has been harder." Brené replied, "I'm so glad we're talking about this. It makes sense to me. Especially in terms of vulnerability. How do you take the armor off in a country where you're not physically or emotionally safe?" Long pause. "That's why I'm calling," said Tarana. "What do you think about a working together on a book about the Black experience with vulnerability and shame resilience?" There was no hesitation. Burke and Brown are the perfect pair to usher in this stark, potent collection of essays on Black shame and healing (and contribute their own introductions to the work). Along with the anthology contributors, they create a space to recognize and process the trauma of white supremacy, a space to be vulnerable and affirm the fullness of Black love and Black life.

 

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