Educational Materials on Anti-Racism, Social Movements and Black History in the United States
Articles and Essays
“The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia.”
Bryan Stevenson is a civil rights activist and lawyer as well as the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, “a human-rights organization that challenges convictions, advocates for criminal-justice reform and racial justice, and created the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama, which honors the victims of lynching and other forms of racial terror during the Jim Crow era.” In this Q&A, Stevenson “discusses the roots of police violence in both slavery and Jim Crow, how to change the culture of policing, and the frustration and despair behind this week’s protests.”
The Conversation is a network of not-for-profit media outlets that publish news stories written by academics and researchers. This article, shared by Facing History and Ourselves, “traces the historical precedents of aggressive and violent policing of African Americans in slavery and the Jim Crow era.”
This essay is written by Ibram X. Kendi, a professor, the director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University and a National Book Award–winning author focused on the topic of antiracism. Dr. Kendi ties the line between recent protests against racism and police brutality, the loss of Black lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the work of academic and political leaders to discredit and ignore Black people’s humanity.
In this long essay by journalist and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, readers are presented a series of arguments for why the United States should offer reparations to members of the Black community as victims of theft, slavery and intense discrimination.
Books and Poetry Collections
Where to Buy Your Books in New Haven
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Anti-Racist Reading Lists
Here are a few collected lists of books focused on anti-racism, history of race in the U.S., and social change movements.
“Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America–more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.”
“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi ex-plores the legacy of racism throughout the entire history of the United States of Amer-ica. Further, it spotlights the work of antira-cists and those who have resisted the racist ideas and policies that shape this nation.”
“Clint Smith’s debut poetry collection, Counting Descent is a coming of age story that seeks to complicate our conception of lineage and tradition. Smith explores the cognitive dissonance that results from belonging to a community that unapologetically celebrates black humanity while living in a world that often renders blackness a caricature of fear.”
“The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, the most intense of the riots that comprised the “Red Summer” of violence across the nation’s cities, has shaped the last century but is unfamiliar or altogether unknown to many people today. In 1919, her second collection of poems, Eve L. Ewing explores the story of this event—which lasted eight days and resulted in thirty-eight deaths and almost five hundred injuries— through poems recounting the stories of everyday people trying to survive and thrive in the city. Ewing uses speculative and Afrofuturist lenses to recast history, illuminating the thin line between the past and the present.”
The Fire Next Time is “a 1963 non-fiction book by James Baldwin. It contains two essays: "My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation" and "Down At The Cross — Letter from a Region of My Mind". The first essay, written in the form of a letter to Baldwin's 14-year-old nephew, discusses the central role of race in American history. The second essay deals with the relations between race and religion, focusing in particular on Baldwin's experiences with the Christian church as a youth, as well as the Islamic ideas of others in Harlem.”
“When They Call You a Terrorist is Patrisse Khan-Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter) and asha bandele’s reflection on humanity. It is an empowering account of survival, strength and resilience and a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.”
“In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life-to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth-and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.”
“The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.”
Movies and Documentaries
“13th is a 2016 American documentary by director Ava DuVernay. The film explores the ‘intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;’ it is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime.”
“Selma is a 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., and John Lewis.”
“Just Mercy is a 2019 American legal drama film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. It tells the true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. The film is based on the memoir of the same name, written by Stevenson.”
“Master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material. I Am Not Your Negro is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.”
“Justice In America is hosted by Josie Duffy Rice, president of The Appeal, along with guest hosts Darnell Moore, Donovan X. Ramsey, Derecka Purnell, and Zak Cheney Rice. Each episode explains a new criminal justice issue and features conversations with experts and advocates. Justice in America is available on iTunes, Soundcloud and LibSyn RSS.”
“On Pod Save the People, organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics with fellow activists Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Sam Sinyangwe, and writer Dr. Clint Smith. They offer a unique take on the news, with a special focus on overlooked stories and topics that often impact people of color.”
“Where We Live (hosted by Lucy Nalpathanchil) is a call-in talk show about who we are in Connecticut and our place in the world. On any given day, we explore topics you may be talking about at your job or at home. From immigration and education to workplace and family issues. We explore the latest scientific research and how worldwide events impact us locally.”
“On May 1st, 1970, the eyes of the nation were on the Elm City. Students and others from around the country had gathered to protest the murder trial of Black Panther Party leaders Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins. This hour, we take a look back at May Day in New Haven, 50 years ago. We talk with Huggins and hear from a former Baltimore mayor who was one of the Yale students who helped keep protests peaceful.”
“Residents across Connecticut continue to protest and speak out in response to the police killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer. This hour, as residents demand police accountability, how should they also work towards dismantling systemic racism in our state? We talk with State Representative Robyn Porter, who has worked on police accountability legislation. We find out what more needs to be done to reform police departments and how it ties into addressing the underlying structural inequalities in Connecticut.”
Code Switch is “a race and culture outlet and a weekly podcast from American public radio network NPR.” The Code Switch staff are “a multi-racial, multi-generational team of journalists fascinated by the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.”
“Step inside the confession booth of Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times. They devour TV, movies, art, music and the internet to find the things that move them — to tears, awe and anger. Still Processing is where they try to understand the pleasures and pathologies of America in 2020.”
“Four hundred years ago, in August 1619, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the 250 years of slavery that followed. ‘1619,’ a New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, examines the long shadow of that fateful moment.”
“Hear to Slay is the black feminist podcast of your dreams—compelling conversations curated in only the way black women can. Each week, Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom offer uncommonly incisive reads of the politics that shape the world we live in and the popular culture we consume.”
“When They See Us a 2019 American drama web television miniseries created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix, that premiered in four parts on May 31, 2019. It is based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.” Ava Duvernay’s production company, ARRAY, created a learning companion to go along with the series.
“Based on the acclaimed film of the same name, this Netflix-original series follows a group of students of color at Winchester University, a predominantly white Ivy League college. The students are faced with a landscape of cultural bias, social injustice, misguided activism and slippery politics. Through an absurdist lens, the series uses irony, self-deprecation, brutal honesty and humor to highlight issues that still plague today's"post-racial" society.”
Videos and Discussions
“In 1965, James Baldwin debated William F. Buckley at the Cambridge Union Society, Cambridge University. The topic of the debate was, ‘The American Dream is at the expense of the American negro.’” Here is an article that speaks more on why this debate mattered and continues to matter in the conversation of racial injustice in the United States.