Selecting Books on Racial Justice—The Results Are In

Many thanks to all who responded!

To serve the diverse interests of the congregation at St. Mark’s, the Verna J. Dozier Memorial Library includes books and a limited number of films on a wide range of topics. Among them are a fairly small number of books addressing issues of racism and racial justice (see list at the bottom of this page).

Objectives of This Project

Because of the moral reawakening that is taking place across our country today, a high priority for the Library Committee is to add key works on these issues so they will be available for church members when the building reopens.

To that end, we compiled a list of 25 highly regarded books based on reviews in the Washington Post and New York Times as well as recommendations from clergy and fellow parishioners. Budget and space constraints won’t allow us to add that many books to the collection without removing other important works from the shelves. Despite these constraints, we hope to add more books on racial justice for adults next year and improve our collection for children and young adults on this and other topics.

Survey Results

Here are the top 10 books chosen by respondents in our recent survey of parishioners:

  1. DiAngelo, Robin. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism, 2018.
  2. Kendi, Ibram X. How to Be an Antiracist, 2019.
  3. Wilkerson, Isabel. CasteThe Origins of Our Discontents, 2020.
  4. Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, 2014.
  5. Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, 2016.
  6. Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time, 1963.
  7. Irving, Debby. Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, 2014.
  8. Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 2010 (new edition, 2020).
  9. Glaude, Eddie S., Jr. Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, 2020.
  10. Rothstein, Richard. The Color of Law:A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, 2018.

These books were ranked 11 to 25 by parishioners responding to the survey:

  1. Glaude, Eddie S., Jr. Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, 2017.
  2. Coates, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Between the World and Me, 2015.
  3. Cone, James H. Black Theology and Black Power, 1969 (50thAnniversary Edition, 2007).
  4. Jarrett-Schell, Rev. Peter. Seeing My Skin: A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness.
  5. Thurman, Howard. Jesus and the Disinherited,1949 (reissued, 1996).
  6. Dyson, Michael Eric. The Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, 2017.
  7. Ward, Jesmyn. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, 2016.
  8. Washington, Harriet A. A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind, 2019.
  9. Singh, Anneliese A. The Racial Healing Handbook, 2019.
  10. Oluo, Ijeoma. So You Want to Talk about Race, 2019.
  11. Saad, Layla F. Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, 2020.
  12. Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns:The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, 2010.
  13. Darity, William, Jr., and A. Kirsten Mullen. From Here to Equality:Reparations for Black Americans in the 21stCentury, 2020.
  14. Ball, Edward Ball. Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy, 2020.
  15. White, Tim. White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, 2004.

Next Steps: Adding the Top 10 Books to the Dozier Library

The Library Committee is able to purchase only a few of the selected books with the funds in its 2020 budget and will acquire the rest next year depending on the 2021 budget.

We would welcome in-kind donations of new or “gently used” copies of these books from parishioners who would like to see them added to the collection. If you are interested in doing that, please contact Cecilie Jones.

Additional Books Recommended by Respondents

Anderson, Elizabeth. The Imperative of Integration.

Blum, Edward, and Paul Harvey. The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America.

Brown, Austin Channing. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.

Cooper, Brittany. Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.

Cox, R. David Cox. The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee.

Davis, Dána-Ain Davis. Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth.

Desmond, Matthew Desmond. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

Dorn, T. Fedder. Challenges on the Emmaus Road: Episcopal Bishops Confront Slavery, Civil War, and Emancipation.

Foner, Eric. The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution.

Foreman, James, Jr. Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader, et al. My Own Words.

Hill, Jane H. The Everyday Language of White Racism.

Lopez, Ian Haney. Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class.

McCaulley, Esau. Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope.

Meacham, Jon. His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope

____________. The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels

Meeks, Catherine, and Jim Wallis. Living into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America.

Menakem, Resmaa. My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies.

Metzel, Jonathan. Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland.

Robbins, Glenn. The Bishop of the Old South: The Ministry and Civil War Legacy of Leonidas Polk.

Table, George C. Gods’ Almost Chosen Peoples – A Religious History of the American Civil War.

Thurman, Howard. Meditations of the Heart.

Tisby, Jemar. The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism.

Williams, Heather. Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery.

Films Recommended by Respondents

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

American Jail (CNN documentary)

Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America

I Am Not Your Negro

John Lewis: Good Trouble


13th by Ava Duvernay

Note: Concerning the availability of DVD or videocassette players for home viewing, 50% of survey respondents say they do watch DVDs at home, while 50% do not have a player. Far fewer have access to videocassette players; only 23% have a VCR at home.

Books on Racial Justice Issues Currently in the Collection

Bennett, Lerone, Jr. What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964.

Deutsch, Stephanie. You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald, and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South, 2015.

Felder, Cain Hope. Troubling Biblical Waters: Race, Class and Family, 1990.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Wisdom of Martin Luther King in His Own Words, 1968.

Smith, Luther E., Jr., ed. Howard Thurman: Essential Writings, 2006.

Thurman, Howard, Deep Is the Hunger, 1951.

_______________, Jesus and the Disinherited, 1949.

_______________, The Luminous Darkness: A Personal Interpretation of the Anatomy of Segregation and the Ground of Hope, 1965.