100 books like A Voice That Could Stir an Army

By Maegan Parker Brooks,

Here are 100 books that A Voice That Could Stir an Army fans have personally recommended if you like A Voice That Could Stir an Army. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision

Keisha N. Blain Author Of Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America

From my list on Black women in the Civil Rights Movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first learned about Fannie Lou Hamer more than a decade ago, and I have been deeply inspired by her life story and her words. I didn’t initially think I would write a book about her. But the uprisings of 2020 motivated me to do so. Like so many people, I struggled to make sense of everything that was unfolding, and I began to question whether change was possible. The more I read Hamer’s words, the more clarity I found. Her vision for the world and her commitment to improving conditions for all people gave me a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

Keisha's book list on Black women in the Civil Rights Movement

Keisha N. Blain Why did Keisha love this book?

This is a book that inspired me as a historian and in my approach to activism. Barbara Ransby’s biography of Ella Baker excavates the activist’s life, placing the reader at the nexus of some of the most important moments in civil rights history. Ella Baker’s life also provides a blueprint for local activism and group-centered leadership. It’s a compelling story of how Ella Baker became a mentor, inspiring, listening to, and supporting local activists. 

By Barbara Ransby,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of lives. In this deeply researched biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker's long and rich political career as an organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher, from her early experiences in depression-era Harlem to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Ransby paints a vivid picture of the African American fight for justice and its intersections with other progressive struggles worldwide across…


Book cover of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

Hajar Yazdiha Author Of The Struggle for the People's King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement

From my list on understanding revisionist history politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied forty years of the political misuses of the memory of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement as a sociologist at USC and the daughter of Iranian immigrants who has always been interested in questions of identity and belonging. My interest in civil rights struggles started early, growing up in Virginia, a state that celebrated the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday alongside Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I wanted to understand how revisionist histories could become the mainstream account of the past and how they mattered for the future of democracy.

Hajar's book list on understanding revisionist history politics

Hajar Yazdiha Why did Hajar love this book?

This brilliant, best-selling book turned award-winning documentary is so fantastic for unraveling a revisionist history of the “tired old lady who wouldn’t move to the back of the bus.”

Not unlike the way I show how Dr. King’s memory has been sanitized and defanged, Theoharis shows how Parks’ memory has been voided of her long history of radical activism, and her unyielding pursuit of racial and social justice.

I thought about this book a lot as I was writing my chapter on the hidden Black women, the “sheroes” of the Civil Rights Movement who present-day Black feminist activists are resurrecting in public consciousness.

By Jeanne Theoharis,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The basis for the documentary of the same name executive produced by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien. The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks premieres on Peacock on October 19.

2014 NAACP Image Award Winner: Outstanding Literary Work–Biography/Autobiography
 
2013 Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians

Choice Top 25 Academic Titles for 2013

The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement.

This revised edition includes a new introduction by the author, who reflects on materials in the Rosa Parks…


Book cover of The Struggle Is Eternal: Gloria Richardson and Black Liberation

Keisha N. Blain Author Of Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America

From my list on Black women in the Civil Rights Movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first learned about Fannie Lou Hamer more than a decade ago, and I have been deeply inspired by her life story and her words. I didn’t initially think I would write a book about her. But the uprisings of 2020 motivated me to do so. Like so many people, I struggled to make sense of everything that was unfolding, and I began to question whether change was possible. The more I read Hamer’s words, the more clarity I found. Her vision for the world and her commitment to improving conditions for all people gave me a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

Keisha's book list on Black women in the Civil Rights Movement

Keisha N. Blain Why did Keisha love this book?

Joseph Fitzgerald’s powerful biography highlights the work and activism of Gloria Richardson. Her leadership of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee demonstrated not only her commitment to human rights, but also her willingness to embrace alternatives to nonviolent tactics. Fitzgerald delves into Richardson’s beliefs and strategies to capture her efforts to build a grassroots movement.

By Joseph R. Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Struggle Is Eternal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many prominent and well-known figures greatly impacted the civil rights movement, but one of the most influential and unsung leaders of that period was Gloria Richardson. As the leader of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC), a multifaceted liberation campaign formed to target segregation and racial inequality in Cambridge, Maryland, Richardson advocated for economic justice and tactics beyond nonviolent demonstrations. Her philosophies and strategies -- including her belief that black people had a right to self--defense -- were adopted, often without credit, by a number of civil rights and black power leaders and activists. The Struggle Is Eternal: Gloria Richardson…


Book cover of Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality

Keisha N. Blain Author Of Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America

From my list on Black women in the Civil Rights Movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first learned about Fannie Lou Hamer more than a decade ago, and I have been deeply inspired by her life story and her words. I didn’t initially think I would write a book about her. But the uprisings of 2020 motivated me to do so. Like so many people, I struggled to make sense of everything that was unfolding, and I began to question whether change was possible. The more I read Hamer’s words, the more clarity I found. Her vision for the world and her commitment to improving conditions for all people gave me a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

Keisha's book list on Black women in the Civil Rights Movement

Keisha N. Blain Why did Keisha love this book?

Constance Baker Motley’s role within the Civil Rights Movement had not received the recognition it deserved until Tomiko Brown-Nagin’s Civil Rights Queen. Brown-Nagin reconstructs Motley’s life and pushes readers to consider the activist and legal career of the first Black woman appointed as a federal judge. As a writer who is especially interested in studying Black working-class women, I appreciate the author’s close attention to how Motley’s life from a working-class background to her position as a judge of the Southern District of New York.

By Tomiko Brown-Nagin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Civil Rights Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the US Supreme Court confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, “it makes sense to revisit the life and work of another Black woman who profoundly shaped the law: Constance Baker Motley” (CNN). The first major biography of one of our most influential judges—an activist lawyer who became the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary—that provides an eye-opening account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th Century.

“A must-read for anyone who dares to believe that equal justice under the law is possible and is in search of a model for how to…


Book cover of An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America

Paul Kendrick Author Of Nine Days: The Race to Save Martin Luther King Jr.'s Life and Win the 1960 Election

From my list on memoirs of the civil rights movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father and I have written three books of narrative history. We tell stories from the American past that have a theme of interracial collaboration. Not sentimentally, but so that in a clear-eyed way, we can learn from moments in our history that may offer us hopeful ways forward. Growing up, I was shaped by narrative history techniques such as Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality by Richard Kluger and Taylor Branch’s America in the King Years trilogy. For this list, I wanted to share five favorite civil rights movement memoirs.

Paul's book list on memoirs of the civil rights movement

Paul Kendrick Why did Paul love this book?

Few reflect on Dr. King more insightfully than Young, from strategy sessions to reflective late-night talks with Dr. King. His memories from campaigns like Birmingham are invaluable. There is both humor and great depth in the tale of Young’s life, from theological school and parish ministry to being at the center of the civil rights movement. 

By Andrew Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Easy Burden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Andrew Young is one of the most important figures of the U.S. civil rights movement and one of America's best-known African American leaders. Working closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he endured beatings and arrests while participating in seminal civil rights campaigns. In 1964, he became Executive Director of the SCLC, serving with King during a time of great accomplishment and turmoil. In describing his life through his election to Congress in 1972, this memoir provides revelatory, riveting reading. Young's analysis of the connection between racism, poverty, and a militarized economy will resonate with…


Book cover of Scalawag: A White Southerner's Journey through Segregation to Human Rights Activism

Clara Silverstein Author Of White Girl: A Story of School Desegregation

From my list on memoirs from the front lines of standing up to racism.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a white child bused to African American schools in Richmond, Virginia in the 1970s, I unwittingly stepped into a Civil Rights experiment that would shatter social norms and put me on a path to learning history not taught in textbooks. At first, I never expected to look back at this fraught time. Then I had children. The more I tried to tell them about my past, the more I wanted to understand the context. Why did we fall so short of America’s founding ideals? I have been reading and writing about American history ever since, completing a master’s degree and publishing books, essays, and poems.

Clara's book list on memoirs from the front lines of standing up to racism

Clara Silverstein Why did Clara love this book?

Raised in a working-class white family in segregated Richmond in the 1930s and 1940s, Peeples grows up to challenge the racism around him. His transformation – how he learned to think critically and become a “traitor to the race” – is both unusual and compelling. He spends the rest of his life fighting for racial equality, first in the U.S. Navy and later at the university where he teaches. His perspective as someone who rejects his upbringing and energetically defends equal treatment for all races, as well as broader human rights, shows how much one individual can do to overcome the hate in his past and improve the world.

By Edward H. Peeples, Nancy MacLean (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Scalawag tells the surprising story of a white working-class boy who became an unlikely civil rights activist. Born in 1935 in Richmond, where he was sent to segregated churches and schools, Ed Peeples was taught the ethos and lore of white supremacy by every adult in his young life. That message came with an equally cruel one-that, as the child of a wage-earning single mother, he was destined for failure.

But by age nineteen Peeples became what the whites in his world called a ""traitor to the race."" Pushed by a lone teacher to think critically, Peeples found his way…


Book cover of On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail

Paul Lauter Author Of Our Sixties: An Activist's History

From my list on how we made change in the 1960's.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the past 50 years, I've been one of those “tenured radicals” the right-wing loved to bash. But before that, during the 1960s, I worked, often full-time, in the social movements that did change America: civil rights, anti-war, feminism. I was older, so I became a “professor-activist.” As a teacher, I applied what I had learned in the movements to reconstruct ideas about which writers mattered—women as well as men, minorities as well as whites: Zora Neale Hurston, Frederick Douglass, Adrienne Rich as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway. Using that principle, I led a team that created a very successful collection, The Heath Anthology of American Literature.     

Paul's book list on how we made change in the 1960's

Paul Lauter Why did Paul love this book?

In a clever move, Charlie Cobb uses the form of a travel guide—I love it better than a Lonely Planet—to introduce the events and people of the 1960s Civil Rights struggles. An active participant, Cobb takes us into, behind, and around the sit-ins, the formation of SNCC, campaigns for voting rights, Mississippi Summer of 1964, and other day-by-day battles for Civil Rights. We meet close up and learn about the work of the young people, many unknown and unsung, whose determination and daring carried the Movement forward. And, yes, the book also provides many pictures and documents, as well as a “guided tour” of the homes, churches, shops, and bars where the real action happened.   

By Charles E. Cobb Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Road to Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning journalist Charles E. Cobb Jr., a former organizer and field secretary for SNCC (Student Non violent Coordinating Committee), knows the journey intimately. He guides us through Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, back to the real grassroots of the movement. He pays tribute not only to the men and women etched into our national memory but to local people whose seemingly small contributions made an impact. We go inside the organizations that framed the movement, travel on the "Freedom Rides" of 1961, and hear first-person accounts about the events that inspired Brown…


Book cover of Why We Can't Wait

Christina Hawatmeh Author Of The Year Time Stopped: The Global Pandemic in Photos

From my list on to change your view on the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent 10 years building Scopio, which stands for “Scope It Out” to build an accessible platform for anyone, anywhere to tell their story and share their images. I have used technology to change stereotypes and archive historical moments to our everyday imagery. I like to consume information easily and actionably and these are my recommendations! We did that in writing The Year Time Stopped so people can enjoy and get value out of 200 images and stories for the next century.

Christina's book list on to change your view on the world

Christina Hawatmeh Why did Christina love this book?

Why We Can't Wait is an easy way to get into the psychology of MLK. It is a 1964 book by Martin Luther King Jr. about the nonviolent movement against racial segregation in the United States, and specifically the 1963 Birmingham campaign. The way it is written makes it understandable from a 1:1 perspective. I am connected to this because it helps a person be actionable in their own way about causes they care about. No frills, just action!

By Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Why We Can't Wait as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'He changed the course of history' Barack Obama

'Lightning makes no sound until it strikes'

This is the momentous story of the Civil Rights movement, told by one of its most powerful and eloquent voices. Here Martin Luther King, Jr. recounts the pivotal events in the city of Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 that propelled his non-violent campaign for racial justice from a movement of lunch counter sit-ins and prayer meetings to a phenomenon that 'rocked the richest, most powerful nation to its foundations'.

As inspiring and resonant as it was upon publication, Why We Can't Wait is both a unique…


Book cover of A Life in the Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition

Thomas F. Jackson Author Of From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice

From my list on racial and economic justice movements in the US.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up middle-class, white, progressive, and repeatedly exposed to the mediated crises and movements of the Sixties left me with a lifelong challenge of making sense of the American dilemma. My road was long and winding–a year in Barcelona as Spain struggled to emerge from autocracy; years organizing for the nuclear freeze and against apartheid; study under academics puzzling through the possibilities of nonviolent and democratic politics. My efforts culminated in the publication of a volume that won the Organization of American Historians Liberty Legacy Award, for the “best book by a historian on the civil rights struggle from the beginnings of the nation to the present.”

Thomas' book list on racial and economic justice movements in the US

Thomas F. Jackson Why did Thomas love this book?

All my selections capture unheralded activists undertaking the “social learning” at the core of movement building. Inevitably, a movement against one injustice will uncover larger and denser fabrics of inequality and disempowerment. Lipsitz and Perry collaborated in producing an incredible synthesis of personal biography and broad social and historical analysis. This book opened my eyes to the forgotten history of a northern freedom movement that challenged entrenched and enduring structures of big city inequality. Lipsitz follows Perry from a campaign to open up jobs for St. Louis bank tellers in 1963, to an “unviolent” campaign organizing Louisiana timber workers for voting rights and labor rights in 1965. Perry's subsequent efforts as a St. Louis war on poverty housing coordinator were educations in themselves: most memorably, he organized rent strikes and coordinated an unprecedented campaign to remedy the devastating effects of lead paint poisoning on children.

By George Lipsitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Life in the Struggle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book tells the story of Ivory Perry, a black worker and community activist who, for more than thirty years, has distributed the leaflets, carried the picket signs, and planned and participated in the confrontations that were essential to the success of protest movements. Using oral histories and extensive archival research, George Lipsitz examines the culture of opposition through the events of Perry's life of commitment and illumines the social and political changes and conflicts that have convulsed the United States during the past fifty years.


Book cover of The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

Annette Bay Pimentel Author Of All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything

From my list on children’s books for young activists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up watching my older sister march through the world, pointing out to adults what was wrong with society and how they should change it. She included me in her activism sometimes, like the time she and I leafletted the neighbors, reminding them that they should vote in the next election. I want kids who aren’t lucky enough to grow up with an activist sibling to know that their voices matter. I write books about kids, like Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, who change the world.

Annette's book list on children’s books for young activists

Annette Bay Pimentel Why did Annette love this book?

In May 1963, three thousand African American children allowed themselves to be arrested in Birmingham, Alabama to protest segregation. The youngest, Audrey Faye Hendricks, was an elementary school student. This picture book biography tells the story of how she came to march with a bunch of high schoolers and about the bravery she had to summon up for her stay in jail.

By Cynthia Levinson, Vanessa Brantley-Newton (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Youngest Marcher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you're never too little to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.

So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham's segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher's words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan-picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!-she stepped right up and said, I'll do…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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