Historicizing Racial Injustice

Historicizing Racial Injustice

Historicizing Racial Injustice: What to Read, Watch and Listen to

Broad Overviews:

  • Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
  • Kathleen Belew, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramiltary America
  • Daina Berry and Kali Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States
  • Eric T.L. Love, Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900
  • Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America


  • Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
  • Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
  • Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold Story of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America
  • Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be An Antiracist
  • Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Mass Incarceration:

  • Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
  • Dan Berger, Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing
  • James Forman, Jr. Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
  • Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime
  • Khalil Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness
  • David Oshinsky, Worse than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice
  • Bryan Stephenson, Just Mercy
  • Heather Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy


  • Edward Baptist, The Half Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
  • Douglass Blackman, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to WWII
  • David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World
  • Stephanie M. Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South
  • Frederick Douglass, My Bondage My Freedom
  • Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught:  The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
  • David Barry Gaspar and Darlene Clare Hine, More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello
  • Sally Hadden, Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas
  • Henrik Hartog, The Trouble With Minna:  a Case of Slavery and Emancipation in the Antebellum North
  • Gerald Horne, The Counter-Revolution of 1776
  • Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life in the Antebellum Slave Market
  • Martha Jones, Birthright Citizens:  A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America
  • Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slaveowners in the American South
  • Caleb McDaniel, Sweet Taste of Liberty:  A True History of Slavery and Restitution in America
  • Solomon Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave

City, State or Regional Examinations:

  • Simon Balto, Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power
  • Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City
  • James Gigantino, The Ragged Road to Abolition:  Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1775-1865
  • Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa, 1921:  Reporting a Massacre
  • Tiya Miles, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of Straits
  • Gregory Mixon, The Atlanta Riot:  Race, Class, and Violence in a New South City
  • Michael Morey, Fagen: An African-American Renegade in the Philippine-American War
  • Kevin Mumford, Newark:  A History of Race, Riots, and Rights in  America
  • Michael Pfeifer, Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947
  • Chanelle Nyree Rose, The Struggle for Black Freedom in Miami
  • Carl Suddler, Presumed Criminal: Black Youth and the Justice System in Postwar New York
  • Clarence Taylor, Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City
  • Kidada Williams, They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial 
  • Violence from Emancipation to World War I

20th + 21st Century:

  • Megan Francis, Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State
  • Danielle McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street:  Black Women, Rape and Resistance:  A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
  • Barbara Ransby, Making All Black Lives Matter
  • Angela Ritchie, Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color
  • Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
  • Stuart Shrader, Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing 
  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation
  • Jeanne Theoharis, A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

Comparative and International Contexts:

  • Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture
  • George Reid Andrews, Afro-Latin America 1800-2000
  • Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism
  • Erik Love, Islamophobia and Racism in America 
  • Daniel R. Magaziner, The Law and the Prophets: Black Consciousness in South Africa, 1968-1977
  • Francine Winddance Twine, Racism in a Racial Democracy: The Maintenance of White Supremacy in Brazil

Popular Works:

  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
  • Angela Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle​
  • Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
  • Michael Eric Dyson, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
  • Matthew Horace and Ron Harris, The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement
  • Mikki Kendall, Hood Feminism:  Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot
  • Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele, When they call you a terrorist
  • Kiese Laymon, Heavy: An American Memoir 
  • Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
  • Jesmyn Ward, The Fire This Time:  A New Generation Speaks About Race


  • “13th” (Netflix)
  • “American Son” (Netflix)
  • “Asian Americans” (PBS)
  • “Dear White People” (Netflix)
  • “If Beale Street Could Talk” (Hulu)
  • “King in the Wilderness” (HBO)
  • “See You Yesterday” (Netflix)
  • “The Hate You Give” (Cinemax)
  • “When They See Us” (Netflix)
  • “I Am Not Your Negro” (Amazon Prime)
  • “The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975” (Amazon Prime)
  • “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” (Amazon Prime) 


  • 1619 (NYTimes)
  • Code Switch (NPR)
  • Intersectionality Matters! Hosted by Kimberle Crenshaw
  • Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
  • “Our Black History Month Reading List for Asian Americans,” link
  • Pod for the Cause (Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights)
  • Seeing White (Scene on Radio)
  • Talking About Race (National Museum of African American History and Culture)

For other works from our colleagues at Rowan Libraries, please check out their list: https://libguides.rowan.edu/c.php?g=1045972

Recommendations by History Department Faculty:

Emily Blanck: If I could choose anything, I would choose My Bondage, My Freedom by Frederick Douglass.  Understanding slavery helps us understand the foundations of racial inequality, policing, and resistance (among many other things). My Bondage, My Freedom was Frederick Douglass’ moment to speak directly, without mediation of white abolitionistsas a person who experienced slavery, resisted slavery, and freed himself.  In this book, he points to the systems of oppression and how it corrupts individuals. In the end, his emancipation does not free him, his struggle against oppression and to gain his own voice, frees him. It is the most powerful and insightful of the enslaved people’s narratives.

Bill Carrigan: James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time — harrowingly beautiful; Frederick Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom — perhaps the best autobiography ever written, and James Gigantino, The Ragged Road to Abolition: Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1775-1865​ -- a recent study that places NJ in the larger context of the history of slavery with much attention to ongoing discrimination after abolition.

Mikkel Dack: I recently read Kathleen Belew, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramiltary America. It is very good and an excellent “starting point” for understanding 20th century white supremacy.

Jim Heinzen: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me, is in the form of a letter about the history of American racial injustice from Coates, an African-American man, to his 14-year old son. He describes his own fear of the police as a child growing up in Baltimore, and the death of his friend at the hands of a police officer. I found it moving and searing.

Josh Gedacht:  My personal pick would be Eric Love's Race over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900, which has good chapters on how racism informs expansion into the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, and the Philippines. I often draw students to it in my seminars, and it is available as an ebook at Campbell.

Melissa Klapper: I recommend Jesmyn Ward, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, which I think will really resonate with our students.

Janet Lindman: If you are interested in the capitalist history of racial discrimination and white privilege—particularly on the part of white women--Stephen Jones-Rogers’s book, They Were Her Property, does a great job of showing how white women benefited from slavery; as active agents in black enslavement, they profited in myriad ways from its perpetuation. 

Chanelle Rose: Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Katie Turner: I will recommend Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold Story of Racial Inequality in Twentieth Century America, as a history book to best help understand the roots of racial economic inequality. 

Joy Wiltenburg: I like Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow, because it challenges the widely held idea that we are over the bad old days of racial oppression. Many are not aware of the scale of mass incarceration in the land of the free, and if they know about the racial disparities, they assume it is because black people do more crime. Alexander is a legal scholar but also traces the history of criminalization as racial control. Students have found the book readable and thought provoking.