The best books on the struggle for equality in the USA

Charles Postel Author Of Equality: An American Dilemma, 1866-1896
By Charles Postel

The Books I Picked & Why

Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction

By Kate Masur

Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction

Why this book?

The African American struggle for justice and equality has been a driving engine for making our country a more just and equal place. This book tells the gripping story of the movement for racial equality from the founding of the republic through the Civil War. This was a fight against enslavement, but it was also a fight against racist laws and institutions, in the North and the South, that deprived people of equality and full citizenship based on the color of their skin. This is a bold and sweeping account of the first great civil rights movement.


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The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

By Eric Foner

The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

Why this book?

Three amendments after the Civil War made for a revolution in our constitutional order. They abolished slavery, guaranteed all people due process and equal protection of the law, and gave Black men the vote. In doing so, the principle of equality, for the first time, was written into our national law. In this short, riveting account, one of our nation's greatest historians argues that this marked a second founding of the U.S. The struggle over the meaning of this second founding has the country in its grip to this day.


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Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880

By W. E. B. Du Bois

Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880

Why this book?

This is the classic account of the African American struggle in the tumultuous days of the Civil War and its aftermath. Du Bois wrote this literary masterpiece in 1935, setting the pace for the reevaluation of the Reconstruction Era by later generations of scholars. It is a story of hope and freedom, terror and despair, at the heart of which lay the Black struggle for equality in the post-Civil War settlement.


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Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, & the Great Depression

By Alan Brinkley

Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, & the Great Depression

Why this book?

During the Great Depression, no other public figures stirred the political waters the way Huey Long and FatherCoughlin did. The political "Kingfish" of Louisiana and the "Radio Priest" from Royal Oak, Michigan, gave voice to demands to "share the wealth" and for economic justice. This book tells their fascinating and disturbing stories, and in doing so reminds us of how deep the strivings for economic equality and social justice run through our history.


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The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

By Peniel E. Joseph

The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Why this book?

Martin or Malcolm? Civil Rights or Black Power? Integration or Separation? In this book, equal parts wise and smart, Joseph shows the limits of such questions. With their different styles and ways, both Martin and Malcolm fought for the common cause of equality and full citizenship. This book gets to the heart of why this cause was the defining struggle for equality of the post-World War Two decades.


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