100 books like Radicalizing the Ebony Tower

By Joy Ann Williamson-Lott,

Here are 100 books that Radicalizing the Ebony Tower fans have personally recommended if you like Radicalizing the Ebony Tower. 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 Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880

Charlotte Hinger Author Of Nicodemus

From my list on African Americans in the West after the Civil War.

Who am I?

I’m a multi-award-winning novelist and Kansas historian. Through reading letters written by African Americans in Kansas, I realized that black people were a major political force. In fact, with the settlement of Nicodemus, for the first time in American history, enough black people had gathered in one place to dominate political decisions and prevail over the white community. No one had told the story of the three black powerhouses who shaped politics on a county, state, and national level. I was thrilled when University of Oklahoma Press published my academic book. It won second place in the Westerner’s International Best Book contest.

Charlotte's book list on African Americans in the West after the Civil War

Charlotte Hinger Why did Charlotte love this book?

W.E.B Du Bois’s magnificent contribution to Post-Reconstrucion history put a stop to the notion that blacks were lightweights when it came to academia. Du Bois is a careful historian but doesn’t hesitate to speak from a black agenda. I’m well aware that this book supports my own ideas that blacks were a force in settling the West, but still, the truth will come out. Black people exerted extraordinary political influence. Du Bois, was a serious scholar, with impeccable credentials, and the founder of the NAACP. This man can write! I’m envious of his matchless ability to present history. 

By W.E.B. Du Bois,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

W. E. B. Du Bois was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du
Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.

Black Reconstruction in America tells and interprets the story of…


Book cover of The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935

Marybeth Gasman Author Of Making Black Scientists: A Call to Action

From my list on the history of African American education.

Who am I?

Marybeth Gasman has been writing about African American history – within the educational setting – since 1994 when she began research that led to on an intellectual biography of African American sociologist, Harlem Renaissance architect, and Fisk University president Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Over the years, her work has explored many topics, including the history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Black medical schools, African American philanthropy, and the production of Black scientists. She is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Professor in Education & a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and also serves as the Executive Director of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, & Justice.

Marybeth's book list on the history of African American education

Marybeth Gasman Why did Marybeth love this book?

In all honesty, Anderson’s book changed my life and put me on the road to becoming a historian and a professor back in 1994 when I read it while pursuing a Ph.D. Before I read it, I didn’t like history. I didn’t realize that history could come alive and that the stories of average people as well as luminaries were equally compelling. I realized after reading his work that I had been starved of African American history by my educational institutions; reading this book made me want to read more and understand American history more fully and completely. And, Anderson’s craft made me want to become a professor.

By James D. Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James Anderson critically reinterprets the history of southern black education from Reconstruction to the Great Depression. By placing black schooling within a political, cultural, and economic context, he offers fresh insights into black commitment to education, the peculiar significance of Tuskegee Institute, and the conflicting goals of various philanthropic groups, among other matters. Initially, ex-slaves attempted to create an educational system that would support and extend their emancipation, but their children were pushed into a system of industrial education that presupposed black political and economic subordination. This conception of education and social order--supported by northern industrial philanthropists, some black educators,…


Book cover of Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom

Marybeth Gasman Author Of Making Black Scientists: A Call to Action

From my list on the history of African American education.

Who am I?

Marybeth Gasman has been writing about African American history – within the educational setting – since 1994 when she began research that led to on an intellectual biography of African American sociologist, Harlem Renaissance architect, and Fisk University president Charles Spurgeon Johnson. Over the years, her work has explored many topics, including the history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Black medical schools, African American philanthropy, and the production of Black scientists. She is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Professor in Education & a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and also serves as the Executive Director of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, & Justice.

Marybeth's book list on the history of African American education

Marybeth Gasman Why did Marybeth love this book?

Williams is another beautiful writer and what I love most about this book is it dispels the very harmful myths about Black intelligence during and after slavery. The author shares the many ways that enslaved Africans taught each other to read even though reading or teaching a Black person to read was illegal in all of the southern states. Reading, storytelling, and passing on knowledge across generations is part of the African American tradition and Williams captures all of this and more in this beautiful book.

By Heather Andrea Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this previously untold story of African American self-education, Heather Andrea Williams moves across time to examine African Americans' relationship to literacy during slavery, during the Civil War, and in the first decades of freedom. Some slaves devised creative and subversive means to acquire literacy, and when slavery ended, they became the first teachers of other freedpeople. Williams argues that by teaching, building schools, supporting teachers, resisting violence, and claiming education as a civil right, African Americans transformed the face of education in the South to the great benefit of both black and white southerners.


Book cover of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Richard D. Kahlenberg Author Of Excluded: How Snob Zoning, NIMBYism, and Class Bias Build the Walls We Don't See

From my list on government housing rules in America.

Who am I?

After decades writing about how to improve the lives of low-income children through education, I concluded that I had to writing about housing policy too. Government housing laws essentially dictate where kids go to school in America. In addition, since writing in college about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign for president, in which he brought together a multiracial coalition of working people, I’ve been obsessed with finding ways to bring those groups together again.  Reforms of housing policy in a number of states has done just that: united working people across racial lines who were sick of being excluded – by government fiat – from places that provide the best opportunities.

Richard's book list on government housing rules in America

Richard D. Kahlenberg Why did Richard love this book?

The Color of Law does a brilliant job of making clear that racial segregation in America is not merely the result of market forces or individual choices; it was manufactured by government through a series of twentieth-century policies: racial zoning, redlining, and enforcement of racially restrictive covenants.  The effects are still felt today.

I modeled my own book after Rothstein’s and updated his analysis to show that today, economically discriminatory zoning laws have replaced racially discriminatory practices, which helps explain why racial segregation has declined by 30 percent since 1970, but income segregation has doubled.

By Richard Rothstein,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Color of Law as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Widely heralded as a "masterful" (The Washington Post) and "essential" (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein's The Color of Law offers "the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation" (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced…


Book cover of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study

J. Moufawad-Paul Author Of Austerity Apparatus

From my list on the state and state repression.

Who am I?

One of my long-standing interests, as a political philosopher, has been to examine the deployment of state power and the state forms (what I call states of affairs) the capitalist mode of production takes in order to preserve its economic order. Since I completed my doctorate, which was on the articulation of settler-colonial power in relationship to remaining settler states, I have largely been invested in thinking politics: how dominant politics maintain the current order, how counter-hegemonic politics disrupt this order. 

J.'s book list on the state and state repression

J. Moufawad-Paul Why did J. love this book?

I first read The Undercommons in a virtual reading group during the early months of the COVID pandemic and was quite taken by its poetics and unfolding conceptual terrain. Beginning with an analysis of academia as a significant ideological state apparatus, Moten and Harney also discuss multiple forms of state violence and capture in racial capitalist formations. From the notion of the settler-capitalist garrison responding to “the surround” of the colonized and marginalized, to the connection between policy and policing, to the logic of reified colonial conquest, to logistics and professionalization, The Undercommons is a meditation on methods of state repression and forms of resistance. Arguing that recognition of the “general antagonism” that underlies the state is necessary for revolutionary politics, Moten and Harney end up echoing Lenin’s insights about class antagonism and false reconciliation in The State and Revolution.

By Stefano Harney, Fred Moten,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Literary Nonfiction. African American Studies. Politics. Philosophy & Critical Theory. Introduction by Jack Halberstam. In this series of essays, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney draw on the theory and practice of the black radical tradition as it supports, inspires, and extends contemporary social and political thought and aesthetic critique. Today the general wealth of social life finds itself confronted by mutations in the mechanisms of control: the proliferation of capitalist logistics, governance by credit, and the management of pedagogy. Working from and within the social poesis of life in THE UNDERCOMMONS, Moten and Harney develop and expand an array of…


Book cover of Daring to Educate: The Legacy of the Early Spelman College Presidents

Nancy Woloch Author Of The Insider: A Life of Virginia C. Gildersleeve

From my list on women’s colleges and their histories.

Who am I?

As a teacher of US women’s history and educational history, I have long been interested in women’s colleges—in their faculties, administrators, students, alumnae, goals, and achievements. Most recently, as the biographer of a woman educator (a dean of Barnard College in the early 20th century), I became more deeply involved with the literature on single-sex schools. Major books focus on the older women’s colleges, the “Seven Sisters,” but devote attention to other colleges as well. I am impressed with the talents of historians, with their skill at asking questions of their subjects, with the intensity of mission at the women’s schools, and with changing styles of campus culture.

Nancy's book list on women’s colleges and their histories

Nancy Woloch Why did Nancy love this book?

Recent concern with intersectionality (instances where categories of race and gender overlap) makes research into Black women’s colleges vital. Founded in 1881 as a Baptist female seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, Spelman College became a leading women’s liberal arts college. The book tracks the impact of four college presidents from the outset to the 1950s. The authors show how the formal academic curriculum, extra-curriculum (college-sponsored activities), and hidden curriculum (informal and even inadvertent influences) instilled an imperative to excel.

By Yolanda L. Watson, Sheila T. Gregory,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Presents the history of Spelman's foundation through the tenure of its fourth president, Florence M. Read, in1953. The story is brought up to date by the contributions of Spelman's current president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, and by Johnnetta B. Cole.

The book chronicles how the vision each of these women presidents, and their response to changing social forces, both profoundly shaped Spelman's curriculum and influenced the lives and minds of thousands of young Black women.


Book cover of Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Justice, and Fairness for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education

Marilyn K. Easter Author Of Resilience: Bravery in the Face of Racism, Corruption, and Privilege in the halls of Academia

From my list on empowerment and hope.

Who am I?

As with many people, my life has been full of twists and turns. I know what it means to be an outsider and to be cast aside as though my voice and presence doesn’t matter. But, with grit and determination, I battled systemic racism head-on, and with my good L.U.C.K (labor under correct knowledge), encouragement, and faith, I am thriving in an environment that was designed to be non-inclusive for People of Color. Currently, I am the only Black female professor in the 94-year history in the college where I am employed.

Marilyn's book list on empowerment and hope

Marilyn K. Easter Why did Marilyn love this book?

Beyond Retention is a non-fiction title that has the same narrative as my novel Resilience. Through various stories of lived experience, this title brings to light all the issues of race and gender inequality in higher institutions. What makes this book special is that it doesn't focus only on faculty but deals with administrators as well. Every woman who is interested in a career in academia should have and read Beyond Retention, as it offers ways through which one can thrive and not just survive in higher education.

By Brenda L. H. Marina (editor), Sabrina N. Ross (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Beyond Retention: Cultivating Spaces of Equity, Fairness, and Justice for Women of Color in U.S. Higher Education, Brenda Marina and Sabrina N. Ross address the continued underrepresentation of women faculty of color at predominantly White colleges and universities through a creative convergence of scholarship focused on intellectual activism and structural change. Inspired by the African American oral tradition of call and response, this text illuminates the calls, or personal narratives of women faculty of color who identify racialized, gendered, sexualized, and class-based challenges associated with work in predominantly White institutions. Accounts of social justice-oriented strategies, policies, and practices that…


Book cover of Degrees of Equality: Abolitionist Colleges and the Politics of Race

Frank J. Cirillo Author Of The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union

From my list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America.

Who am I?

I spent many a night growing up glued to the television, watching Ken Burns’ Civil War. But as I got older, I found my interests stretching beyond the battles and melancholic music on the screen. I decided to become a historian of abolitionism–the radical reform movement that fought to end the evils of slavery and racial prejudice. Through my research, I seek to explain the substantial influence of the abolitionist movement as well as its significant limitations. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 2017, and have since held positions at such institutions as The New School, the University of Bonn, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Frank's book list on the long and difficult fight against slavery in America

Frank J. Cirillo Why did Frank love this book?

This book does a fantastic job of illustrating something that I explore in my own work: pro-slavery (and anti-Black) white Americans were not the only obstacles facing abolitionists in the fight for racial equality.

The abolitionist movement itself was often divided along racial lines. Black abolitionists pushed for radical, egalitarian change in all aspects of American life. When push came to shove, however, many of their white counterparts had a limit as to how far they would go.

Bell shows how this dynamic played out at progressive colleges like Oberlin before, during, and after the Civil War. The implications of this book, however, stretch far beyond those campuses–and far beyond that time.

By John Frederick Bell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The abolitionist movement not only helped bring an end to slavery in the United States but also inspired the large-scale admission of African Americans to the country's colleges and universities. Oberlin College changed the face of American higher education in 1835 when it began enrolling students irrespective of race and sex. Camaraderie among races flourished at the Ohio institution and at two other leading abolitionist colleges, Berea in Kentucky and New York Central, where Black and white students allied in the fight for emancipation and civil rights. After Reconstruction, however, color lines emerged on even the most progressive campuses. For…


Book cover of Silver Rights

Anthony Grooms Author Of Bombingham

From my list on to teach about the civil rights movement.

Who am I?

I grew up in the American South during the Civil Rights Movement. The movement was nearly constant conversation, approached with cautious optimism, in my household. Years later, I met my wife, whose family lived in Birmingham, Alabama, and participated in various ways in the movement in that city. Soon after I began to study and write about the Civil Rights Movement, especially the Birmingham movement. I’ve published two books of fiction that reflect on the Movement and I’ve taught college courses and given many lectures in the States and abroad about literature and film set during the Civil Rights Movement.

Anthony's book list on to teach about the civil rights movement

Anthony Grooms Why did Anthony love this book?

When I was twelve, my father said to me, “Stick and stones might break your bones, but words will never hurt you. You are going to a white school.” It was with those words that I became a part of a complicated integration plan called “Freedom of Choice.” Connie Curry, one of the first white members of SNCC, the student-run civil rights activist group, writes beautifully of the Carter family as they integrate the schools of Sunflower County, Mississippi. The book emphasizes that access to education was a cornerstone of the Civil Rights Movement. The Carter children learned, as I did, that words can both hurt and heal.

By Constance Curry, Marian Wright Edelman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN GIVE OUR CHILDREN IS AN EDUCATION.” —Mae Bertha Carter
 
In 1965, the Carters, an African American sharecropping family with thirteen children, took public officials at their word when they were offered “Freedom of Choice” to send their children to any school they wished, and so began their unforeseen struggle to desegregate the schools of Sunflower County, Mississippi. In this true account from the front lines of the civil rights movement, four generations of the Carter family speak to author and civil rights activist Constance Curry, who lived this story alongside the family—a story of…


Book cover of Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta

J. Richard Gentry Author Of Brain Words: How the Science of Reading Informs Teaching

From my list on the movement to change teaching reading in English.

Who am I?

As a reading educator my mission in life is to give the gift of literacy. Inspiration came from my mother, my first-grade teacher who taught me to read. At 90-plus years old and declining, I dedicated one of my 18 books on teaching literacy to her. She sent me the last letter she would ever write and said, “Oh, oh, oh!”—a quote from Dick and Jane, the book she used to teach reading to three generations of first graders—“I always wanted to write a book but never did. I hope a word of mine is on a page or two of yours.” Her inspiration is on every page.

J.'s book list on the movement to change teaching reading in English

J. Richard Gentry Why did J. love this book?

Richard Grant a British journalist and adventure writer traveled the world before moving from New York City with his Brookland girlfriend to transform a dilapidated antebellum mansion in Mississippi into a new home and a new life.

In the process he discovers the real Mississippi—good and bad—as “the most American place on earth.” This book makes the reader laugh, cry, but most important think deeply about jazz, sex, politics, food, America’s class system, racism, democracy, and what it means to be American which is in constant change.

Grant’s writing is addictive and an elixir—you can’t put it down. 

By Richard Grant,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Dispatches from Pluto as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Adventure writer Richard Grant takes on "the most American place on Earth" the enigmatic, beautiful, often derided Mississippi Delta.
Richard Grant and his girlfriend were living in a shoebox apartment in New York City when they decided on a whim to buy an old plantation house in the Mississippi Delta. This is their journey of discovery into this strange and wonderful American place. Imagine A Year In Provence with alligators and assassins, or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with hunting scenes and swamp-to-table dining.
On a remote, isolated strip of land, three miles beyond the tiny community…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in higher education, Mississippi, and African Americans?

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