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Books & Authors

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is an annual U.S. holiday celebrated on June 19th. It marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and the end of slavery. On that day in 1865, General Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom in Galveston, Texas, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is a reminder of African American struggles, resilience, and the ongoing pursuit of equality. It is a day of reflection, education, celebration, and a call to fight against racial injustice.

 

Here are some books to check out:

Caste : The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day.

Four Hundred Souls : A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 by Ibram X Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Antiracism Institute of American University, and Keisha Blain, editor of The North Star have gathered together 80 black writers from all disciplines --- historians and artists, journalists and novelists --- each of whom has contributed an entry about one five-year period to create a dynamic multivoiced single-volume history of black people in America.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations marked by wealth, slavery, war, coal mining, the Great Migration and the realities of 20th-century Harlem.

Hood Feminism : Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
In this searing collection of essays, Mikki Kendall takes aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement, arguing it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women. Drawing on her own experiences with hunger, violence, and hypersexualization, along with incisive commentary on politics, pop culture, the stigma of mental health, and more, "Hood Feminism" delivers an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
"Invisible Man" is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.

Juneteenth : A Novel by Ralph Ellison
In Washington, D.C., in the 1950s, Adam Sunraider, a race-baiting senator from New England, is mortally wounded by an assassin's bullet while making a speech on the Senate floor. To the shock of all who think they know him, Sunraider calls out from his deathbed for Alonzo Hickman, an old black minister, to be brought to his side. The reverend is summoned; the two are left alone. Tell me what happened while there's still time, demands the dying Sunraider. In "Juneteenth," Ralph Ellison evokes the rhythms of jazz and gospel and ordinary speech to tell a powerful tale of a prodigal son in the 20th century.

Just Mercy : A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
In an early case during his career, Stevenson defended Walter McMillian, a black man from southern Alabama, who was accused by a white con-man of two murders, although the snitch had never even met him and was himself under investigation for one of the murders. Through a series of bogus legal situations, police harassment, racism, and phony testimony, McMillian found himself on Alabama's death row, fully aware of the legacy of class and race prejudice that made poor Southern blacks susceptible to wrongful imprisonment and execution. Stevenson's persistent efforts spared McMillian from that ultimate fate, and the author's experience with the flaws in the American justice system add extra gravity to a deeply disturbing and oft-overlooked topic.

The Underground Railroad : A Novel by Colson Whitehead
A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

 

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