"PSPL" refers to books you can borrow from the Paul Sawyier Public Library. 

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

We Were Eight Year in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates. "We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multicultural democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this collection of new and selected essays, Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time.  (PSPL,  973.932 COAT  - Book, eBook, & Audio Book formats )

White Fragility: Why it's so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. Referring to defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behavoirs including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. Here, DiAngelo explores how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.  (PSPL, 305.8 DIAN)

How To Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide

How  to Be Less Stupid about Race by Crystal M. Fleming.  Combining no-holds-barred social critique, humorous personal anecdotes, and the latest scholarship on systemic racism, sociologist Fleming provides a fresh and irreverant take on everything that's wrong with our "national conversation about race." Fleming explains how systemic racism socializes all of us to absorb racially stupid ideas, and she shares concrete steps for detecting and dismantling racial oppression.

Waking Up White

Waking Up White by Debby Irving.  For twenty-five years, Irving sensed ineplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worries about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts ro 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.  

The Cross and the Lynching Tree

The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In a work that spans social history, theology, and cultural studies,  theologian James H. Cone explores the message of the spirituals and the power of the blues; the passion and engaged vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.; he invokes the spirits of Billie Holliday and Langston Hughes, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ida B. Well, and the witness of black artists, writers, preachers, and fighters for justice. And he remembers the victims, especially the 5,000 who perished during the lynching period. Through their witness he contemplates the greatest challenge of any Christian theology to explain how life can be made meaningful in the face of death and injustice.

So You Want to Talk about Race

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude many Americans. 

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. An eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America.  In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value "diversity" in their mission statements, I'm Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric--from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations. (PSPL, B BROW)

Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism.

Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church views Racism by Drew G. I Hart. What if racial reconciliation doesn't look like what you expected? The high-profile killings of young black men and women by white police officers, and the protests and violence that ensued, have convinced many white Christians to reexamine their intuitions when it comes to race and justice. In this provocative book, theologian and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, antiblack stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. Leading readers toward Jesus, Hart offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice. What if all Christians listened to the stories of those on the racialized margins? How might the church be changed by the trouble we've seen? (PSPL, 277.3 HART)

The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X : as told to Alex Haley.  Through a life of passion and struggle, Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. In this riveting account, he tells of his journey from a prison cell to Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim minister. Here, the man who called himself "the angriest Black man in America" relates how his conversion to true Islam helped him confront his rage and recognize the brotherhood of all mankind.   (PSPL, B LITT, book & ebook formats)

White Awake: An honest look at what it mean to be white

White Awake: An honest look at what it means to be white by Daniel Hill.  Hill will never forget the day he heard these words:  "Daniel, you may be white, but don't let that lull you into thinking you have no culture. White culture is very real. In fact, when white culture comes in contact with other cultures, it almost always wins. So it would be a really good idea for you to learn about your culture."  Confused and unsettled by this encounter, Hill began a journey of understanding his own white identity. Today he is an active participant in addressing and confronting racial and systemic injustices from a Christian perspective.  

The New Jim Crowe: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

The New Jim Crowe: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander This book directly challenges the notion that the presidency of Barack Obama signaled a new era of colorblindness. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control--relegating millions to a permanent second-class status--even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. (PSPL 364.973 ALEX - book & ebook)

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson. From the Civil War to our combustible present, an acclaimed historian reframes our continuing conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America. (PSPL, 305 ANDE)

I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin (a Companion Edition to the Documentary Film edited by Raoul Peck). In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Weaving together texts from James Baldwin’s published and unpublished books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews Peck imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote, juxtaposing Baldwin’s private words with his public statements, in a blazing examination of the tragic history of race in America. (PSPL, 323.1196 BALD)

Forward Together: A Message for the Nation

Forward Together: A Message for the Nation by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (with Barbara Zelter) shares the theological foundation for the Moral Monday movement, serving as a proclamation of a new American movement seeking equal treatment and opportunity for all regardless of economic status, sexual preference, belief, race, geography, and any other discriminatory bases. The book will also serve as a model for other movements across the country and around the world using North Carolina as a case study, providing useful, practical tips about grassroots organizing and transformative leadership.

Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism by Derrick Bell. Civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell uses allegory and historical example to argue that racism is an integral and permanent part of American society. African American struggles for equality are doomed to fail so long as the majority of whites do not see their own well-being threatened by the status quo. Bell calls on African Americans to face up to this unhappy truth and abandon a misplaced faith in inevitable progress. Only then will blacks, and those whites who join with them, be in a position to create viable strategies to alleviate the burdens of racism.

The Guide for White Women who Teach Black Boys

The Guide for White Women who Teach Black Boys edited by Eddie Moore, Ali Michael, and Marguerite W. Penick-Parks.  Schools that routinely fail Black boys are not extraordinary. In fact, they are all-too ordinary. If we are to succeed in positively shifting outcomes for Black boys and young men, we must first change the way school is "done." That’s where the eight in ten teachers who are White women fit in . . . and this urgently needed resource is written specifically for them as a way to help them understand, respect and connect with all of their students.  The book brings together research, activities, personal stories, and video interviews to help readers embrace the deep realities and thrilling potential of this crucial American task. 

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by  Michael Eric Dyson. A Baptist minister argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted. (PSPL, 305.8 DYSO – book & eaudiobook format)

Fights for Rights

Fights for Rights by Ronald W. Eades. As Americans, we often take our many freedoms for granted. It is easy to forget the difficulties many of our ancestors faced when fighting for the rights we now enjoy. Because the United States is a "nation of laws and not of men," these people were able to challenge unfair laws in hope of a better future. Fights for Rights explains our everyday rights of free speech, religion, the rights of the accused, and how our Constitution guarantees these rights for all people.


Bigotry by Kathlyn Gay traces the history of various forms of bigotry, the effects it has on society, and ways of combating it.

Bigotry and Intolerance: The Ultimate Teen Guide

Bigotry and Intolerance: The Ultimate Teen Guide by Kathlyn Gay looks at the various reasons why people of all age levels and backgrounds feel the need to disparage others. This book also offers help to teens who are the object of fear and hatred by showing them how to combat such behavior. Aimed at young adults who are interested in fighting bigotry and intolerance, this book will help teens who suffer from the small-mindedness of others. It might also help those who are less tolerant find some common ground with those who are different from them--and lead to a better understanding of how diversity makes for a richer, more interesting world. (PSPL, Y 305.8 GAY)

“And don’t call me a racist!”

“And don’t call me a racist!” selected and arranged by Ella Mazel. A treasury of quotes on the past, present, and future of the color line in America.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, who was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. Just Mercy provides a window into the lives of those Stevenson has defended and calls us to fix our broken system. (PSPL, ebook)

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson. In this young adult adaptation of the acclaimed bestseller Just Mercy,  Stevenson delves deep into the broken U.S. justice system, detailing from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America's most rejected and marginalized people

Race Matters

Race Matters by Cornel West contains powerful essays on the issues relevant to black Americans today: despair, black conservatism, black-Jewish relations, myths about black sexuality, the crisis in leadership in the black community, and the legacy of Malcolm X. And the insights that he brings to these complicated problems remain fresh, exciting, creative, and compassionate. Now more than ever, Race Matters is a book for all Americans, as it helps us to build a genuine multiracial democracy in the new millennium. (PSPL, 305.8 WEST)

Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America

In Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America Tim Wise argues that far from any culture of poverty, it is the culture of predatory affluence that deserves the blame for America's simmering economic and social crises. He documents the increasing contempt for the nation's poor, and reveals the forces at work to create and perpetuate it. With clarity, passion and eloquence, he demonstrates how America's myth of personal entitlement based on merit is inextricably linked to pernicious racial bigotry, and he points the way to greater compassion, fairness, and economic justice.

A History of Blacks in Kentucky: From Slavery to Segregation, 1760 - 1891

A History of Blacks in Kentucky: From Slavery to Segregation, 1760 - 1891 by Marion Brunson Lucas traces the role of blacks from the early exploration and settlement of Kentucky to 1891, when African Americans gained freedom only to be faced with a segregated society. Making extensive use of numerous primary sources such as slave diaries, Freedmen's Bureau records, church minutes, and collections of personal papers, the book tells the stories of individuals, their triumphs and tragedies, and their accomplishments in the face of adversity. (PSPL 976.9 LUCA)

A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890 – 1980

A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890 – 1980 by George C. Wright describes the struggle of blacks in the twentieth century to achieve the promise of political, social, and economic equality. From the rising tide of racism and violence at the turn of the century to the civil rights movement and school integration in later decades, Wright describes the accomplishments, frustrations, and defeats suffered by the race, concluding that even in 1980 only a few blacks had actually achieved the long-sought goal of equality.

  Resources have been recommended by members and should not be viewed as endorsed by  FORR: Frankfort.