Reading List

QUEST Delve Deeper Reading List

Adult Nonfiction

Countryman, Matthew J. Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania Press, PA, 2005. Up South traces the efforts of two generations of black Philadelphians to turn the City of Brotherly Love into a place of promise and opportunity for all. Although Philadelphia rarely appears in the histories of the modern civil rights struggle, the city was home to a vibrant and groundbreaking movement for racial justice in the years between World War II and the 1970s. By broadening the chronological and geographic parameters of the civil rights movement, Up South explores the origins of civil rights liberalism, the failure of the liberal program of anti discrimination legislation and interracial coalition-building to deliver on its promise of racial equality, and the subsequent rise of the Black Power movement.

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press, 2014. Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race society.

Rothstein, Richard. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.New York, NY: WW Norton, 2017.In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation - that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it wasde jure segregation - the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state and federal governments - that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Smith, Mychal Denzel. Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching. New York, NY: Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group Inc., 2016. How do you learn to be a black man in America? For young black men today, it means coming of age during the presidency of Barack Obama. It means witnessing the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, and too many more. It means celebrating powerful moments of black self-determination for LeBron James, Dave Chappelle, and Frank Ocean. In Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, Mychal Denzel Smith chronicles his own personal and political education during these tumultuous years, describing his efforts to come into his own in a world that denied his humanity. Smith unapologetically upends reigning assumptions about black masculinity, rewriting the script for black manhood so that depression and anxiety aren't considered taboo, and feminism and LGBTQ rights become part of the fight. The questions Smith asks in this book are urgent-for him, for the martyrs and the tokens, and for the Trayvons that could have been and are still waiting.

Smith, Tracy K.. Ordinary Light: A Memoir. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. In Ordinary Light, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith tells her remarkable story, giving us a quietly potent memoir that explores her coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. Here is the story of a young artist struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.

Winfrey Harris, Tamara. The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015. What is wrong with Black women? Not a damned thing but the biased lens most people use to view them, says Tamara Winfrey Harris. When African women arrived on American shores, the three-headed hydra of asexual and servile Mammy, angry and bestial Sapphire, and oversexed and lascivious Jezebel followed close behind. In the ‘60s, the Matriarch, the willfully unmarried baby machine leeching off the state, joined them. These caricatures persist - even in the ‘enlightened’ 21st century- through newspaper headlines, Sunday sermons, social media memes, cable punditry, government policies, and Top 40 lyrics. The Sisters Are Alright delves into areas like marriage, motherhood, health, sexuality, beauty, and more. And using progressive author analysis brought to life by the stories of real women, it reveals the effects of anti-black woman propaganda and how real black women are living their lives and pushing back against distorted cartoon versions of themselves.

Wolfinger, James. Philadelphia Divided: Race and Politics in the City of Brotherly Love. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.In a detailed study of life and politics in Philadelphia between the 1930s and 1950s James Wolfinger demonstrates how racial tensions in working-class neighborhoods and job sites shaped the contours of mid-twentieth-century liberal and conservative politics. As racial divisions fractured the working class, he argues, Republican leaders exploited these racial fissures to reposition their party as the champion of ordinary white citizens besieged by black demands and overwhelmed by liberal government orders.

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