A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America
Ronald Takaki, Back Bay Book, 2008.
Recounts the history of America in the voice of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States–Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and other– groups who helped create this country’s rich mosaic culture.
A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present
Howard Zinn, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2005.
Tells America’s story from the point of view of –and in the words of–America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers.
Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil: My Life and Times in a Racist, Imperialist Society
Inga Muscio, Seal Press, 2005.
Muscio asserts the so-called history we learn in school is no more than a brand developed by white men. Whose country is it? Has democracy ever really existed? Why does our culture celebrate certain figures and ignore others? Do schools teach kids to perpetuate white supremacist ideologies? Muscio challenges people to expand their thinking on America’s past.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Ballantine Books, 1992
Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965
Juan Williams, Penguin, 1988.
Written in conjunction with the production team of the PBS-TV series of the same name, the book uses still photography, which provides different insights than the film footage of the same events shown on television. While the two could be used together, the book stands solidly alone as one of the best available summaries of the period.
Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts of Women in SNCC
Editors Betty Robinson et al, University of Illinois Press, 2010
In Hands on the Freedom Plow, fifty-two women–northern and southern, young and old, urban and rural, black, white, and Latina–share their courageous personal stories of working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement.
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
James Loewen, Touchstone, 2007.
After surveying eighteen leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that
not one does a decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past.
Long Memory: the Black Experience in America
Mary Frances Berry and John W. Blassingame Oxford University Press, 1982.
This survey is organized around the key issues of Afro-American history: Africa and slavery, family, religion, sex and racism, politics, economics, education, criminal justice, discrimination and protest movements, and black nationalism.
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
Harriet A. Washington, Anchor Press, 2008.
The first and only comprehensive history of
medical experimentation on African Americans. The product of years of prodigious research into medical journals and experimental reports long undisturbed, Washington reveals the hidden underbelly of scientific research and makes possible, for the first time, an understanding of the roots of the African American health deficit. At last, it provides the fullest possible context for comprehending the behavioral fallout that has caused black Americans to view researchers—and indeed the whole medical establishment—with such deep distrust.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Bedford Books, 1993
On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century
Sherilynn Ifill, Beacon Press, 2007.
The history of lynching on the Eastern Shore of Maryland through the vastly different perspectives of current day white and African American residents of the region.
Promise and a Way of Life: White Anti-Racist Activism
Becky Thompson, University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
A history of the last half of the twentieth century of white activists who made anti-racism work the focus of their activism.
Reluctant Reformers: Racism and Social Reform Movements in the United States
Robert L, Allen, Anchor Press, 1975.
A book every activist should read. The persistent failure of white progressive movements to be truly anti-racist is thoroughly documented and illustrates why progressive movements have ultimately collapsed.
The Slaves’ War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves
Andrew Ward, Mariner Books, 2009.
An unprecedented vision of the nation’s bloodiest conflict. Woven together from hundreds of interviews, diaries, letters, and memoirs, here is a groundbreaking and poignant narrative of the CivilWar as seen from not only battlefields, capitals, and camps, but from slave quarters, kitchens, road- sides, and fields as well.
Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
James W. Loewen, Touchstone, 2006.
If Loewen’s first priority is to unveil what he calls the “hidden history” of sundown towns, his second is to debunk the widely held idea that when the issue is race, the South is always “the scene of the crime.”
Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63
Taylor Branch, Simon & Schuster, 1989
Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65
Taylor Branch, Simon & Schuster, 1999
At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68
Taylor Branch, Simon & Schuster, 2007
Taylor Branch provides in a 3-book trilogy an unsurpassed portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s rise to greatness and illuminates the stunning courage and private conflict, the deals, maneuvers, betrayals, and rivalries that determined history behind closed doors, at boycotts and sit-ins, on bloody freedom rides, and through siege and murder.
There is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America
Vincent Harding, Mariner Books, 1993.
Harding chronicles the parallel between the systems of oppression and the systems of resistance against oppression.
Race: The Power of an Illusion, California Newsreel, Executive Producer Larry Adelman, 2003, 3 discs–56 minutes each
A PBS series that helps clear away the biological underbrush and leaves starkly visible the underlying social, economic,
and political conditions that disproportionately channel advantages and opportunities to white people, leaving open the possibility that we can shift the conversation from discussing diversity and respecting cultural difference to building a more just and equitable society.
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, HBO Home Video, Directed by Spike Lee, 2006, 256 minutes
An examination of the U.S. government’s role and its response to Hurricane Katrina.
Banished, Produced and directed by Marco Williams, California Newsreel, 2007, 84 minutes
Examines the hidden chapter in the history of American race relations by revisiting three of the communities that forcibly expelled their entire African American populations and interviewing the descendants of families who left their communities and property behind as they fled for their lives.
Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965, Produced by Blackside, 2009, 360 minutes on 3 discs
A PBS series on the history of the civil rights movement; a must for understanding the history of racism and the struggle against it in the U.S.
Ethnic Notions: Black People in White Minds, Produced by Marlon Riggs, California Newsreel, 1987, 56 minutes
The history of the pervasive media images of African- Americans that helped embed negative racial stereotypes in the minds of U.S. residents. Color Adjustment, produced by Marlon Riggs, California Newsreel, 88 minutes, 1991. Continues the theme of Ethnic Notions into the era of TV.
More Than Bows and Arrows, Produced by Kurt Engelstad and Gray Warriner, 1994, 60 minutes
Excellent history of the contributions of Native Americans to U.S. culture.