Books to Read

Here are just some of the many excellent books to read to learn about the history many of us never learned, and to understand structural racism – how we got here and what we might do to become an anti-racist society. If you have a resource we should know about, email us at

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving

For 25 years, Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn’t understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one “aha!” moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. Waking Up White is the story of her journey.

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Us and How We Can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee

This New York Times bestseller offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color.

The Color of Law, A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein

This former New York Times columnist and research associate at the Economic Policy Institute demonstrates with exacting precision how segregation in America is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the federal, state and local levels.

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019, by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

This is a one-volume “community” history of African Americans, written by 90 writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. 

The New Jim Crow, by Michele Alexander

Former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander argues that 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.

White Fragility, by Robin DeAngelo

This book explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson, Robin Miles, et al.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

EL Norte – The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America, by Carrie Gibson

This sweeping saga of the Spanish history and influence in North America, beginning in the early 16th century, illustrates cultural issues of language, community, race and nationality which are still issues today.  

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States: Revisioning American History, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Laural Merlington, et al.         

This NYT bestseller offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples.

So You Want to Talk about Race, by Ijeoma Oluo 

This NYT bestseller shows how racism affects nearly every aspect of American life and helps readers engage in honest conversations about race.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race, by Beverly Daniel Tatum

This New York Times-bestselling book on the psychology of racism shows us how to talk about race in America.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevensen

This NYT bestseller is the story of the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the criminal justice system.

The Half Has Never Been Told, by Edward E. Baptist

A groundbreaking history demonstrating that America’s economic supremacy was built on the backs of enslaved people.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

This NYT bestselling book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas ─ and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.


Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

Finding Me, by Viola Davis