The best books on Black protest and government resistance

Paul Bass Author Of Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale, and the Redemption of a Killer
By Paul Bass

Who am I?

Paul Bass is the co-author with Douglas W. Rae of Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale, and the Redemption of A Killer. Paul has been a reporter and editor in New Haven, Conn., for over 40 years. He is the founder and editor of the online New Haven Independent.


I wrote...

Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale, and the Redemption of a Killer

By Paul Bass, Douglas W. Rae,

Book cover of Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale, and the Redemption of a Killer

What is my book about?

In a basement of a New Haven housing coop in 1969, the Black Panthers tortured a suspected spy, then took him to a field and shot him dead. It turned out the local party was full of informants  —  but this individual was not among them. The subsequent murder case became a national cause celebre that shut down Yale University, led to mass protests, revealed extensive law enforcement disruption of dissent through COINTELPRO, raised the question of whether a Black revolutionary could receive a fair trial in America, and served as a warning of the dangers of ignoring facts across all sides of the ideological spectrum.

The books I picked & why

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Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power

By Timothy B. Tyson,

Book cover of Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power

Why this book?

Robert F. Williams may be the most influential, inspiring, and entertaining leader to be written out of popular American civil rights history. Tyson rescues him and his story, showing how one man can combine writing and organizing talent to outwit the Klan, the FBI, change his community, challenge movement orthodoxy, and then have unforgettable and unpredictable encounters with Castro, Mao  —  and Nixon, at the dawn of a new foreign policy era. This book, like Williams himself, forces us to wrestle with the nuances of arguments about social justice, racism, violence, and ideology. It’s also an unforgettable story in and of itself.

Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power

By Timothy B. Tyson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Radio Free Dixie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic book tells the remarkable story of Robert F. Williams (1925-1996), one of the most influential black activists of the generation that toppled Jim Crow and forever altered the arc of American history. In the late 1950s, Williams, as president of the Monroe, North Carolina, branch of the NAACP, and his followers used machine guns, dynamite, and Molotov cocktails to confront Klan terrorists. Advocating ""armed self-reliance,"" Williams challenged not only white supremacists but also Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights establishment. Forced to flee during the 1960s to Cuba-where he broadcast ""Radio Free Dixie,"" a program of…


The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther

By Jeffrey Haas,

Book cover of The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther

Why this book?

The era of COINTELPRO and Black Power is filled with stories that can become muddier to tease out as more gets revealed. Not Fred Hampton’s story  —  this was clear-cut, brutal FBI and Chicago police overreach to silence dissent. Haas’s book offers a firsthand account by an attorney who helped dig out the facts, and preserved the poignancy of what it felt like to experience the events.

The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther

By Jeffrey Haas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Assassination of Fred Hampton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the story behind the award-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah

On December 4, 1969, attorney Jeff Haas was in a police lockup in Chicago, interviewing Fred Hampton’s fiancée. Deborah Johnson described how the police pulled her from the room as Fred lay unconscious on their bed.

She heard one officer say, “He’s still alive.” She then heard two shots. A second officer said, “He’s good and dead now.” She looked at Jeff and asked, “What can you do?” The Assassination of Fred Hampton remains Haas’s personal account of how he and People’s Law Office partner Flint Taylor pursued…


The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America

By Hugh Pearson,

Book cover of The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America

Why this book?

The late Pearson took a lot of heat as an African-American author for telling the truth about all sides of the Panther era. But somebody credible needed to do it, and he did it well  —  in a way that can help us approach modern-day political and police accountability protest with eyes wide open.

The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America

By Hugh Pearson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shadow of the Panther as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first complete and balanced history of the Black Panther Party


Black Politics / White Power: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Black Panthers in New Haven

By Yohuru Williams,

Book cover of Black Politics / White Power: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Black Panthers in New Haven

Why this book?

Williams mined volumes of government documents and the memories of survivors of the era in which the country’s most concentrated experiment in urban renewal came face to face with grassroots demands for deeper change. His book reveals the limits of liberalism, as well as dynamics within different groups pushing for social justice about how to negotiate with (or take on) power.

Black Politics / White Power: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Black Panthers in New Haven

By Yohuru Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Politics / White Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The popular media have portrayed the Black Panthers mainly for the rhetoric of violence some members employed and for the associations between the Panthers and a black militancy drawing on racial hostility to whites in general. Overlooked have been the efforts that branches of the organization undertook for practical economic and social progress within African-American neighborhoods, frequently in alliance with whites. Yohuru Williams' study of black politics in New Haven culminating in the arrival of the Panthers argues that the increasing militancy in the black community there was motivated not by abstractions of black cultural integrity but by the continuing…


Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable,

Book cover of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Why this book?

This was political scientist Marable's life work, finished right before his death --  and what an accomplishment! Marable dives so deeply into and verifies previously unknown territory. Though supportive of his subject, Marable offers complex and sometimes embarrassing information with no apologies. As a result, he produces the fullest portrait of Malcolm X to date, and the best case about why both the man and his ideas matter.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Malcolm X as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History and a New York Times bestseller, the definitive biography of Malcolm X

Hailed as "a masterpiece" (San Francisco Chronicle), Manning Marable's acclaimed biography of Malcolm X finally does justice to one of the most influential and controversial figures of twentieth-century American history. Filled with startling new information and shocking revelations, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America. Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism as followers of Marcus Garvey through his own work with the Nation of Islam and rise in the…


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