100 books like Why We Can't Wait

By Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Here are 100 books that Why We Can't Wait fans have personally recommended if you like Why We Can't Wait. 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 Orientalism

Radhika Natarajan Author Of Hear Our Voices: A Powerful Retelling of the British Empire Through 20 True Stories

From my list on why imperial history matters today.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became interested in the history of the British Empire as an undergraduate. Understanding this history helped me relate my parents’ experiences growing up in a postcolonial nation with the history of the United States, where I grew up. As an academic historian, my research and teaching emphasize connections—between disparate places, between the past and present, and between our personal experiences and those of people born in distant times and places. My first children’s book allowed me to translate my scholarly work for a young audience. I hope this list of books that inspire my approach to history encourages your own investigations of imperialism and its pasts!

Radhika's book list on why imperial history matters today

Radhika Natarajan Why did Radhika love this book?

Reading Edward Said’s book as an undergraduate expanded my intellectual horizons and made me want to be a historian. Said showed that empire not only included the events—war, exploitation, extraction—that happened “out there” but also shaped metropolitan ways of knowing about and relating to areas of the world under colonial domination.

Said shows us that the power to know about a place and its people and to shape how that place and its people are known was central to the consolidation of imperial rule in the nineteenth century and its continuance in the twentieth.

More than that, however, Said showed the fundamental continuity between forms of knowledge in the past and structures of imperial power in the present. Imperialism is an unfinished history.

By Edward W. Said,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Orientalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The seminal work that has redefined our understanding of colonialism and empire, with a preface by the author

'Stimulating, elegant and pugnacious' Observer
'Magisterial' Terry Eagleton

In this highly-acclaimed work, Edward Said surveys the history and nature of Western attitudes towards the East, considering orientalism as a powerful European ideological creation - a way for writers, philosophers and colonial administrators to deal with the 'otherness' of eastern culture, customs and beliefs. He traces this view through the writings of Homer, Nerval and Flaubert, Disraeli and Kipling, whose imaginative depictions have greatly contributed to the West's romantic and exotic picture of…


Book cover of Silver Rights

Anthony Grooms Author Of Bombingham

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers

Anthony Grooms Author Of Bombingham

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Walker’s poems channel the voices of Myrlie Evers, widow of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers, and of Byron De La Beckwith, Medgar’s assassin. The poems create warm, sometimes groovy narratives that evoke the music and voices of my childhood, thus humanizing the historical figures while still making palpable their fear, hatred, and defiance.

By Frank X Walker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Around the void left by the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963, the poems in this collection speak, unleashing the strong emotions both before and after the moment of assassination. Poems take on the voices of Evers's widow, Myrlie; his brother, Charles; his assassin, Byron De La Beckwith; and each of De La Beckwith's two wives. Except for the book's title, ""Turn me loose,"" which were his final words, Evers remains in this collection silent. Yet the poems accumulate facets of the love and hate with which others saw this man, unghosting him in a way that only imagination makes…


Book cover of Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement: An Anthology

Anthony Grooms Author Of Bombingham

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

This is the authoritative anthology of short stories that reflect on the Civil Rights Movement. Arranged in sections that highlight aspects of the movement, the stories by some of America’s best fiction writers, range from the thought-proving to the gut-wrenching. Among my favorites are Eudora Welty’s “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” and James Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man.”

By Margaret Earley Whitt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During the civil rights era, masses of people marched in the streets, boycotted stores, and registered to vote. Others challenged racism in ways more solitary but no less life changing. These twenty-three stories give a voice to the nameless, ordinary citizens without whom the movement would have failed. From bloody melees at public lunch counters to anxious musings at the family dinner table, the diverse experiences depicted in this anthology make the civil rights movement as real and immediate as the best histories and memoirs. Each story focuses on a particular, sometimes private, moment in the historic struggle for social…


Book cover of We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March

Anthony Grooms Author Of Bombingham

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

I wanted a good middle-grade book to introduce my son to the Birmingham Children’s March.   Doing so was important to me since his mother grew up in Birmingham, a little girl in 1963.  Levinson’s book features the stories of four children, one who was my wife’s schoolmate, who marched and were fire-hosed. With historical photographs and interviews, the book is an inviting and moving introduction for middle-graders to the why and how of the Movement and the bravery of the youngest activists.

By Cynthia Levinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We've Got a Job as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The inspiring story of the 1963 Birmingham Children's March as seen through the eyes of four young people at the center of the action.

The 1963 Birmingham Children's March was a turning point in American civil rights history. Black Americans had had enough of segregation and police brutality, but with their lives and jobs at stake, most adults were hesitant to protest the city's racist culture. So the fight for civil rights lay in the hands of children like Audrey Hendricks, Wash Booker, James Stewart, and Arnetta Streeter.

We've Got a Job tells the little-known story of the four thousand…


Book cover of Humans of New York: Stories

Salma Hasan Ali Author Of BenchTalk: Wisdoms Inspired in Nature

From my list on stories that make you feel connected to humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a “storyseeker” as much as a storyteller. I love hearing people’s ordinary and extraordinary stories; they inspire and motivate me and make me feel hopeful. I think our stories are the most precious things we have, and our greatest legacy. They help us understand each other better and connect us to people we may otherwise never get to meet. That’s why I wrote a book of personal stories called 30 Days: Stories of Gratitude, Traditions, and Wisdom and a 30 Days Journal that helps people record their own stories, by answering a prompt each day for a month. For a nonprofit I help lead called KindWorks, my title is CIO—Chief Inspiration Officer!

Salma's book list on stories that make you feel connected to humanity

Salma Hasan Ali Why did Salma love this book?

I have been hooked on reading the fascinating stories of ordinary people that Brandon Stanton captures in his Humans of New York social media posts since he started over a decade ago.

His posts reveal that every single person we pass on a daily basis has a story to tell, a challenge they’re facing or have overcome that we will never know; Brandon actually stops to ask them. It amazes me how in a few minutes he’s able to gain the trust of people so they feel comfortable to reveal the most vulnerable and intimate sides of themselves.

Brandon writes each story with honesty and respect and without judgment. And we all feel a little more connected and a little less alone.

By Brandon Stanton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Humans of New York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times Bestseller!

With over 500 vibrant, full-color photos, Humans of New York: Stories is an insightful and inspiring collection of portraits of the lives of New Yorkers.

Humans of New York: Stories is the culmination of five years of innovative storytelling on the streets of New York City. During this time, photographer Brandon Stanton stopped, photographed, and interviewed more than ten thousand strangers, eventually sharing their stories on his blog, Humans of New York.

In Humans of New York: Stories, the interviews accompanying the photographs go deeper, exhibiting the intimate storytelling that the blog has become…


Book cover of The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level

Rupal Patel Author Of From CIA to CEO: Unconventional Life Lessons for Thinking Bigger, Leading Better and Being Bolder

From my list on changing the way you live your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in high performers and the psychology behind success, and my time at the CIA - during which I served in hostile and unpredictable environments - showed me that success and excellence at anything requires mastering one’s “head game.” When I transitioned into the private sector, I consciously chose to challenge myself and stretch myself to be bigger, better, and bolder than I would naturally be, and that lived experience combined with my CIA career inspired the work I do now in helping leaders and organizations push themselves into their discomfort zones and make the seemingly impossible possible.

Rupal's book list on changing the way you live your life

Rupal Patel Why did Rupal love this book?

This book introduced me to the powerful concept of “upper limit problems” which helped me see some of the self-sabotaging behavior I used to engage in (picking fights for no reason, finding things to be annoyed about, giving too many f*cks about silly things) for what it was.

The idea goes that we all have internal “thermostats” that regulate how much success, happiness, and fulfillment we allow ourselves. Then, as we get close to the upper limit of those self-set limits, we engage in sabotaging behavior to bring things back down to a level we are comfortable with.

This one concept alone changed my own behavior and helped me help others see where they might be “upper limiting”. An unexpected life-changing book.

By Gay Hendricks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Big Leap as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The Big Leap" reveals a simple yet comprehensive model of life fulfillment, presented in a way that engages both mind and heart. Gay Hendricks, a major voice in the fields of relationship transformation, and body-mind therapies, developed these methods over the last thirty years by working closely with more than one thousand extraordinary achievers in business and the arts. Readers will discover what prevents them from fulfilling their true potential so they may enjoy the highest levels of success. Through a step-by-step program, Hendricks shares his proven method for identifying and breaking through our personal upper limits to achieve ultimate…


Book cover of Obama: An Intimate Portrait

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?

I am a huge fan of Pete Souza, Obama’s resident photographer. Not only does he show you the day in and day out of the most historically positive president of our time, he continues to this day to educate his audience and show us how a president can be. He also sheds light on some extremely difficult topics like school shootings, and Obama’s historic singing of “amazing grace” while consoling families. This book shows me that anyone can be president and that it's a human’s job because you see his humanity through these photos, not the “superhero” president that historically is how presidents are portrayed that makes us feel somehow separate from them, and unreachable.

By Pete Souza,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Relive the extraordinary Presidency of Barack Obama through White House photographer Pete Souza's behind-the-scenes images and stories in this #1 New York Times bestseller -- with a foreword from the President himself.

During Barack Obama's two terms, Pete Souza was with the President during more crucial moments than anyone else -- and he photographed them all. Souza captured nearly two million photographs of President Obama, in moments highly classified and disarmingly candid. Obama: An Intimate Portrait reproduces more than 300 of Souza's most iconic photographs with fine-art print quality in an oversize collectible format.

Together they document the most consequential…


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 Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America

James Sullivan Author Of Which Side Are You On?: 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs

From my list on protest movements.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of five books on subjects ranging from comedy and music to sports and pants (specifically, blue jeans). I’m a longtime Boston Globe contributor, a former San Francisco Chronicle staff critic, and a onetime editor for Rolling Stone. I help develop podcasts and other programming for Sirius and Pandora. I teach in the Journalism department at Emerson College, and I am the Program Director for the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival and the co-founder of Lit Crawl Boston.

James' book list on protest movements

James Sullivan Why did James love this book?

Now teaching at UT Austin after founding the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, Joseph recently wrote a twin biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. called The Sword and the Shield. His first published book, Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour (2006), was a thriller; it helped shift the prevailing narrative of the core years of the Civil Rights era toward the essential legacies of Stokely Carmichael, Huey Newton, and other Black “radicals” whose contributions were too long willfully neglected.

By Peniel E. Joseph,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1966, a group of black activists, including Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton, turned their backs on Martin Luther King's pacifism in order to build on the legacy of Malcolm X. The result? The Black Power movement, a radical new approach to the fight for equality. Joseph traces the history of the men and women of the movement - many famous and infamous, some forgotten. Drawing on original archival research and more than 60 original oral histories, this narrative history vividly reports the way in which Black Power redefined black identity in the USA.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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