The best books about justice that you don’t need a PhD to understand

Mae Elise Cannon Author Of Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age
By Mae Elise Cannon

Who am I?

Growing up in rural Southern Maryland, I first began to notice a difference between Blacks and whites because of the way I was treated when I hung out with my African American friends. South of the Mason Dixon line, racial differences are often clear. Throughout my childhood and young adult life some of the most influential people who invested in me were African American. As I began to learn about their stories, my heart grew with a love for racial justice and equality. My work and adult life has focused on righting wrongs, responding to global and domestic poverty, to writing and working against inequality and oppression.


I wrote...

Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age

By Mae Elise Cannon,

Book cover of Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age

What is my book about?

Activist Mae Elise Cannon takes us beyond the hashtags to serious engagement with real issues. God calls the church to respond substantively to the needs of the poor, the realities of racial inequity, and the mistreatment of women and the marginalized. We can accomplish change through a range of strategic avenues—spiritually, socially, legally, politically, and economically. And addressing the domestic and international injustices of our day takes us on a journey of spiritual transformation that brings us closer to God and those around us.

Channel your passion to care effectively for your neighbor and the world. This book will help you understand and put into action what it means for the church to be a place of peace, justice, and hope.

The books I picked & why

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A People's History of the United States

By Howard Zinn,

Book cover of A People's History of the United States

Why this book?

Tired of history being boring and hard to understand? Howard Zinn’s People’s History tells the story of the past history of the United States from the often unheard voices of the marginalized and oppressed. It is a great read, even if you are not an academic, nor a historian! I highly recommend this book to get a deeper understanding of America’s past from the perspective of people of color and marginalized communities. 


Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Revised)

By Michael O. Emerson, Christian Smith,

Book cover of Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Revised)

Why this book?

Even if you are not a person of faith, evangelicalism in America has caused great division. Thus, understanding how conservative Christianity looks differently in white and Black communities is a good place to start being introduced to issues of race and justice. Many leaders in the church say Divided by Faith is the next most influential book for them—next to the Bible! 


The Autobiography of Malcolm X

By Malcolm X,

Book cover of The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Why this book?

The first time I read this book, I think I devoured it in almost one sitting. Riveting and fast-moving, the story of Malcolm Little from Omaha, Nebraska to his rise as one of the most influential advocates for racial justice is not to be missed. I promise you won’t be disappointed by this read!  


There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America

By Alex Kotlowitz,

Book cover of There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America

Why this book?

Having lived in Chicago for more than a decade, this first-hand glimpse of two young boys growing up in the inner city changed my perspective and understanding of the realities of domestic urban poverty. A moving and powerful read, you can follow the journey after There are No Children Here in Kotlowitz’s follow-up story, An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago.


Let Justice Roll Down

By John M. Perkins,

Book cover of Let Justice Roll Down

Why this book?

John Perkins has been a mentor and friend. Born in 1930, the life of this native Mississippi man remains compelling and an inspiration! As a civil rights activist who watched his brother die before his eyes, Perkins' storytelling motivates us to respond to injustice with love and vigorous opposition, but never with hate. I often hear Dr. Perkins’ voice saying, “that man loved the hatred right out of me,” about the white doctor who brought him back to life after he was brutally beaten for his civil rights activities. A book not to be missed! 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Illinois, evangelicalism, and Malcolm X?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Illinois, evangelicalism, and Malcolm X.

Illinois Explore 63 books about Illinois
Evangelicalism Explore 23 books about evangelicalism
Malcolm X Explore 7 books about Malcolm X

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Voices of Protest, Lies My Teacher Told Me, and Great Issues in American History, Vol. I if you like this list.