100 books like The Color of Law

By Richard Rothstein,

Here are 100 books that The Color of Law fans have personally recommended if you like The Color of Law. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Robert L. Tsai Author Of Demand the Impossible: One Lawyer's Pursuit of Equal Justice for All

From my list on the role of race and poverty in the criminal justice system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a law professor at Boston University who has studied and written about constitutional law, democracy, and inequality for over 20 years. I’m troubled by America’s rise to become the world’s leader in imprisoning its own citizens and the continued use of inhumane policing and punishment practices. These trends must be better understood before we can come up with a form of politics that can overcome our slide into a darker version of ourselves. 

Robert's book list on the role of race and poverty in the criminal justice system

Robert L. Tsai Why did Robert love this book?

I found Michelle Alexander’s book a potent reminder that the past is never really past, and that older practices of racial subjugation and use of the criminal law against minorities can be repurposed in later eras to serve the same or related ends.

The book raises the question of whether Jim Crow has really ended in all institutions in American society.

By Michelle Alexander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists motivated by Michelle Alexander's unforgettable argument that 'we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.'


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

Kermit Roosevelt III Author Of The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

From my list on understanding America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved America and our Constitution. I went to law school, I clerked at the Supreme Court, and I ended up teaching Constitutional law at Penn. But as I learned more about the Constitution and our history, I realized that the story I’d absorbed growing up about what our values were and where they came from didn’t ring true. Things were a little more complicated. And so I did my own research. I read dozens of books, including the ones listed here. And in the end, I found a story that was both more true and more inspiring than the one we learned in school. 

Kermit's book list on understanding America

Kermit Roosevelt III Why did Kermit love this book?

Eric Foner is our nation’s foremost historian of Reconstruction, the author of dozens of books and articles. This is my favorite—it takes the research and thought of a monumental career and packages it for maximum impact. In just over 200 pages, it takes you through the changes of the Civil War and Reconstruction and their relevance for America today. 

By Eric Foner,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Second Founding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal but it took the Civil War and the adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed due process and the equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. By grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, the amendments marked the second founding of the United States.

Eric Foner conveys the dramatic origins of these revolutionary amendments and explores the court decisions that then narrowed and nullified the rights guaranteed in these amendments. Today, issues…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

Troy Tassier Author Of The Rich Flee and the Poor Take the Bus: How Our Unequal Society Fails Us During Outbreaks

From my list on connecting poor health and poverty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in rural northern Michigan. My family lived in comfort, never lacking essentials. Yet, many of those living around me had difficulty making ends meet. Many lacked health insurance and year-round jobs. As a child, I viewed my community as normal and typical of the American experience. In many ways, it was–in part, that is the point of this list. At the time, I didn’t know that we could do better for those around me who worked so hard daily. Now I do. I selected these books to highlight the vast disparities between those with and without the comfort and luxury of good health.    

Troy's book list on connecting poor health and poverty

Troy Tassier Why did Troy love this book?

Life expectancy among the working-class population in the United States was decreasing at an astounding rate well before the Covid-19 pandemic. While I was aware of growing inequality and decreasing access to health care for many, I didn’t realize how desperate the conditions of life seemed for many working-class Americans.

This book forced me to confront the uncomfortable reality of the health crisis among the many blue-collar workers living in the heartland of America.  

By Anne Case, Angus Deaton,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
A Wall Street Journal Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book of 2020
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book to Read

From economist Anne Case and Nobel Prize winner Angus Deaton, a groundbreaking account of how the flaws in capitalism are fatal for America's working class

Life expectancy in the United States has recently fallen for three years in a row-a reversal not seen since 1918 or in any other wealthy nation in modern times. In the…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Radicalizing the Ebony Tower: Black Colleges and the Black Freedom Struggle in Mississippi

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

From my list on the history of African American education.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Joy Williamson-Lott has a powerful voice and perspective the permeates every sentence in this book. She doesn’t waste a word. And, her research skills are superb. For anyone wanting to learn how to write beautiful history, this book is a model. She is also particularly good at showcasing the voices of African American students who were instrumental to the Black freedom struggle. You can feel their energy and frustration in her passages, and their commitment to freedom and justice comes alive.

By Joy Ann Williamson-Lott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Radicalizing the Ebony Tower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a profoundly moving story of Black colleges in Mississippi during a watershed moment in their history. It is also the story of young Americans trying to balance their pursuit of higher education with the parallel struggle for civil rights. ""Radicalizing the Ebony Tower"" examines colleges against the backdrop of the black freedom struggle of the middle twentieth century, a highly contentious conflict between state agents determined to protect the racial hierarchy and activists equally determined to cripple white supremacy. Activists demanded that colleges play a central role in the Civil Rights Movement (a distinct challenge to the notion…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Laura Hooton, Paul Spickard, and Francisco Beltrán Author Of Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity

From my list on the history of race, ethnicity, and colonialism in the US.

Why are we passionate about this?

Paul Spickard wrote the first edition of Almost All Aliens. He invited Francisco Beltrán and Laura Hooton, who worked under Dr. Spickard at UC Santa Barbara, to co-author the second edition after working as research assistants and providing suggestions for the second edition. We are all historians of race, ethnicity, immigration, colonialism, and identity, and in our other works and teaching we each think about these topics in different ways. We did the same for this list—this is a list of five books that talk about topics that are important to Almost All Aliens and approaches that have been influential in how we think about the topic.  

Laura, Paul, and Francisco's book list on the history of race, ethnicity, and colonialism in the US

Laura Hooton, Paul Spickard, and Francisco Beltrán Why did Laura, Paul, and Francisco love this book?

Kendi’s book is the most recent in a long line of fantastic scholars who have tackled discussions of racism in America, especially anti-Black racism. Kendi focuses specifically on racist ideas, and how those ideas were created and then used to rationalize policies and inequalities for generations. The book is a New York Times Bestseller for a reason: it is accessible, has important ideas that are well-supported, and the reader doesn’t get lost in a history that covers a wide span of time.

By Ibram X. Kendi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stamped from the Beginning is a redefining history of anti-Black racist ideas that dramatically changes our understanding of the causes and extent of racist thinking itself.

** Winner of the US National Book Award**

Its deeply researched and fast-moving narrative chronicles the journey of racist ideas from fifteenth-century Europe to present-day America through the lives of five major intellectuals - Puritan minister Cotton Mather, President Thomas Jefferson, fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, brilliant scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis - showing how these ideas were developed, disseminated and eventually enshrined in American society.

Contrary to popular…


Book cover of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

Steven Rogers Author Of A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues: What You Can Do Right Now to Help the Black Community

From my list on reasons behind the enormous racial wealth gap.

Why am I passionate about this?

Steven Rogers is a retired professor from Harvard Business School (HBS) where he created a new course titled, “Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurship.” He has written more HBS case studies with Black protagonists than anyone in the world. He is an HBS and Williams College alum. He majored in Black history. He has taught at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and West Point U.S. Military Academy. He has published 3 books including Entrepreneurial Finance (4 editions), Successful Black Entrepreneurs, and A Letter to my White Friends and Colleagues: What You Can Do Now to Help the Black Community.

Steven's book list on reasons behind the enormous racial wealth gap

Steven Rogers Why did Steven love this book?

The wealth gap between Blacks and Whites in the U.S. is enormous! Whites have 10 times the wealth as Blacks. The disparity is not because Whites are smarter or have worked harder. This book does a masterful job of clearly explaining one of the reasons behind the wide wealth gap. 

Most people are aware of the fact that 246 years of slavery was a successful government policy that intentionally enriched Whites while simultaneously impoverishing Blacks. But most people are not aware that a new system with the same dual objectives, followed the abolition of slavery in 1865. This book tells the story of Black Codes, Vagrancy Laws, and convict leasing that occurred for 60 years after the passage of the 13th Amendment, emancipating Black enslaved people. These government supported policies replaced slavery as the new program to subsidize White wealth creation at the expense of millions of Blacks. 

Douglas Blackman…

By Douglas A. Blackmon,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Slavery by Another Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This groundbreaking historical expose unearths the lost stories of enslaved persons and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude shortly thereafter in “The Age of Neoslavery.”

By turns moving, sobering, and shocking, this unprecedented Pulitzer Prize-winning account reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.

Following the Emancipation Proclamation, convicts—mostly black men—were “leased” through forced labor camps operated by state and federal governments. Using a…


Book cover of Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

Ian Zack Author Of Odetta: A Life in Music and Protest

From my list on understanding Black history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ian Zack is a New York-based journalist who has written two critically acclaimed biographies. The subjects of both his books—Say No to the Devil: The Life and Musical Genius of Rev. Gary Davis and Odetta: A Life in Music and Protest—began their lives in the Jim Crow South before venturing North and making their voices heard.

Ian's book list on understanding Black history

Ian Zack Why did Ian love this book?

Before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, there was Thurgood Marshall. As a young lawyer and head of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, Marshall spearheaded the civil rights organization’s slow but steady legal course in challenging and defeating segregation in the courts. Risking his life to represent black plaintiffs in the South and slowly building the legal precedents that led to Brown vs. Board of Education, Marshall had a profound effect on the course of history. This excellent biography takes you there.

By Juan Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • The definitive biography of the great lawyer and Supreme Court justice, from the bestselling author of Eyes on the Prize
 
“Magisterial . . . in Williams’ richly detailed portrait, Marshall emerges as a born rebel.”—Jack E. White, Time
 
Thurgood Marshall was the twentieth century’s great architect of American race relations. His victory in the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the landmark Supreme Court case outlawing school segregation in the United States, would have made him a historic figure even if he had never been appointed as the first African-American to serve on…


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