Seventeen Books to Read for Juneteenth 2024

Seventeen Books to Read for Juneteenth 2024

By Michelle Alamillo Date: June 19, 2024 Tags: Juneteenth, African American Studies, Excelsior Editions, History, New York, New York History

Today we celebrate Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. While it marks an important moment in our history, the fight for racial equality continues. Here's seventeen books to reflect on our history and continue the fight for justice.

This Bridge Called My Back, Fortieth Anniversary Edition: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa, is the fortieth anniversary edition of the foundational text of women of color feminism. Originally released in 1981, This Bridge Called My Back is a testimony to women of color feminism as it emerged in the last quarter of the twentieth century. 

“These essays and poems do more than just revisit the hopes, fears, frustrations, and accomplishments of women of color circa 1981; they also shed light on concerns women continue to face today … There are lines of poetry here sure to stir the imagination and connect with all ages, races, and genders … This Bridge Called My Back deserves to be picked up by a new generation of radical women.” — ForeWord Reviews

“Immense is my admiration for the ongoing dialogue and discourse on feminism, Indigenous feminism, the defining discussions in women of color movements and the broader movement. I have loved this book for thirty years, and am so pleased we have returned with our stories, words, and attributes to the growing and resilient movement.” — Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe), Executive Director, Honor the Earth

This Bridge Called My Back … dispels all doubt about the power of a single text to radically transform the terrain of our theory and practice. Twenty years after its publication, we can now see how it helped to untether the production of knowledge from its disciplinary anchors—and not only in the field of women’s studies. This Bridge has allowed us to define the promise of research on race, gender, class and sexuality as profoundly linked to collaboration and coalition-building. And perhaps most important, it has offered us strategies for transformative political practice that are as valid today as they were two decades ago.” — Angela Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz

This Bridge Called My Back … has served as a significant rallying call for women of color for a generation, and this new edition keeps that call alive at a time when divisions prove ever more stubborn and dangerous. A much-cited text, its influence has been visible and broad both in academia and among activists. We owe much of the sound of our present voices to the brave scholars and feminists whose ideas and ideals crowd its pages.” — Shirley Geok-lin Lim, University of California, Santa Barbara

“This book is a manifesto—the 1981 declaration of a new politics ‘US Third World Feminism.’ No great de-colonial writer, from Fanon, Shaarawi, Blackhawk, or Sartre, to Mountain Wolf Woman, de Beauvoir, Saussure, or Newton could have alone proclaimed this ‘politic born of necessity.’ This politic denies no truths: its luminosities drive into and through our bodies. Writers and readers alike become shape-shifters, are invited to enter the shaman/witness state, to invoke power differently. ‘US Third World Feminism’ requires a re-peopling: the creation of planetary citizen-warriors. This book is a guide that directs citizenry shadowed in hate, terror, suffering, disconnection, and pain toward the light of social justice, gender and erotic liberation, peace, and revolutionary love. This Bridge … transits our dreams, and brings them to the real.” — Chela Sandoval, University of California, Santa Barbara

Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me, Second Edition: African American Narrative Poetry from Oral Tradition, by Bruce Jackson, celebrates the African American oral tradition of toasting, one of the key roots of contemporary rap.

"A brilliant, groundbreaking work in both the collection and analysis of African American oral culture. Indispensable." — Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University

"A stone cold classic!" — Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

"Funny as all get out, full of biting wit and dazzling wordplay, this book drops more science than Einstein while proving the genius of black folk who created meaning and defended their lives through signifying words." — Michael Eric Dyson, author of Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves & Demons of Marvin Gaye

"These poems are the source of rap." — Amiri Baraka, author of Blues People

Gold Winner of the 2023 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the History category, The Eight: The Lemmon Slave Case and the Fight for Freedom, by Albert M. Rosenblatt, tells the personal and legal struggle of eight enslaved people for freedom in New York in the period just before the Civil War. 

"Judge Rosenblatt's book not only makes this story accessible to the general public, but does so on the basis of meticulous research that will be useful to legal historians and lawyers for many years to come." — New York Law Journal

"Drawing on court records, newspaper accounts, and legal and historical scholarship, The Eight is well researched and packed with interesting illustrations, portraits, and documents." — Hudson River Valley Review

"In his lucid book, unencumbered by legalese, Rosenblatt narrates how, upon reaching New York, abolitionists, Black and white, assisted the eight enslaved people in suing for their freedom. An 1841 New York law granted liberty to any enslaved person brought into the state. Rosenblatt painstakingly charts the successful freedom suit in New York City's Superior Court and ultimately its victory in the New York Court of Appeals." — CHOICE

"The Lemmon affair of the 1850s was New York's Dred Scott case. Raising the question whether eight Black people on a vessel in New York harbor were enslaved or free, the eight-year litigation put the American legal system on a collision course with Civil War. Albert Rosenblatt's lucid and revelatory account of the case brilliantly shows how it threatened to turn every state in the Union into a slave state. Unearthing previously unknown documents, The Eight is the definitive story of this courageous fight—one that is as complete as it is compelling. Historians and lawyers will rely on the book for years to come." — John Fabian Witt, author of Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History

"Albert Rosenblatt's extensive research of the Lemmon Slave Case provides a rare glimpse into the circumstances surrounding the emancipation of eight enslaved individuals. Thanks to Rosenblatt, this history has been brought to life and made more accessible through this thought-provoking book." — Luanne Wills-Merrell, descendant of two of the eight

Notable Civil War Veterans of Oswego County, New York, by Natalie Joy Woodall, recounts the compelling stories of Civil War soldiers and sailors who lived in Oswego County, New York.

"Meticulously researched and detailed with fascinating tidbits of their personal lives both before and after the war, it is a compelling read for those who want to fill gaps in their Oswego County historical knowledge … This is an excellent resource, scholarly, with citations for every fact and quotation. While satisfying a reader's need for historic data and for compelling stories, it is also a great read." — Oswego County News Now

New York's Grand Emancipation Jubilee: Essays on Slavery, Resistance, Abolition, Teaching, and Historical Memory, by Alan J. Singer, examines slavery, abolition, and race in the United States with a special focus on New York State.

"The book's greatest strength is that it situates the activism of New York's black abolitionists in the larger abolition movement. It is particularly nice to see prominent African Americans chronicled in a single book. Additionally, this work will make it easier for both secondary and college-level instructors to teach about the importance of African-American abolitionists in helping to put an end to slavery." — Jane Dabel, author of A Respectable Woman: The Public Roles of African American Women in 19th-Century New York

Slavery and Freedom in the Mid-Hudson Valley,  Michael E. Groth, explores the long-neglected rural dimensions of northern slavery and emancipation in New York's Mid-Hudson Valley.

"Groth's careful survey of this history from the anonymous and largely invisible slave society of the eighteenth century to the emergence of black identity in Dutchess County in the antebellum period is remarkable in its details, and his analyses of these details places the black experience firmly within the American march toward freedom and democracy …The book is both relentless and compelling, and highly recommended." — Hudson River Valley Review

"Groth provides a systematic overview focused on the history of African Americans in the Mid-Hudson Valley during the decades before the American Revolution through emancipation and during the national political struggle for abolition and the regional struggle for civil rights." — Andor Skotnes, author of A New Deal for All? Race and Class Struggle in Depression-Era Baltimore

Winner of the 2023 Outstanding Book Award presented by the Division B of the American Educational Research Association, Black Lives Matter in US Schools: Race, Education, and Resistance, edited by Boni Wozolek, is a powerful anthology on the role of curricula in perpetuating—and resisting—oppression.

"…Black Lives Matter in US Schools offers … educators a place where the tensions they've felt are acknowledged, affirmed, and, most importantly, regarded seriously." — Journal of Curriculum Theorizing

"One of the chief questions Wozolek and her co-conspirators seek to ask is: how might we turn curriculum studies to consider the lives of the students most often at the wrong end of every educational statistic we collect? And then, how might we turn curriculum studies to the more radical project of giving those students (and their comrades) the tools they (we) need to actually create a world in which their lives not only matter but also determine the fate of everyone else on the planet?" — from the Afterword by Lester K. Spence

"This is a critically important volume that emphatically affirms BLACK LIVES MATTER! Many of the contributors are sought-after leaders in their fields and the mix of approaches coalesces into a highly readable book. The varying lines of flight on display center Black lives in ways that are scholarly rigorous, yet have the potential to reach a wide audience." — Zachary A. Casey, coauthor of Building Pedagogues: White Practicing Teachers and the Struggle for Antiracist Work in Schools

Truly Blessed and Highly Favored: A Memoir, by H. Carl McCall and with Paul Grondahl, is the story of the remarkable rise and illustrious career of H. Carl McCall, a revered figure in New York State politics and the first Black official elected to statewide office. 

"Among the more than 30 photos in Carl McCall's Truly Blessed and Highly Favored memoir is one where he poses in front of a building in Albany named in his honor. Like the building, the prose soars epically, chronicling his magnificent odyssey as it recounts nearly a century of New York's political history." — New York Amsterdam News

"…a riveting story…" — Albany Times Union

"Carl McCall's memoir shines a light on the dark roads he has traveled. From poverty to national leadership, Carl has always been the go-to man who got the job done and who made us all so proud. This book will help readers see how one can come from our toughest streets and, through hard work and a series of successes, be an inspiration for so many. As a longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I relied so much on Carl's intelligence, commitment, and leadership skills. Every step he made on his journey is a testament to his faith in a brighter future for the people and community he served." — Former congressman Charles B. Rangel

"One of the things that keeps me hopeful in good times and in other times is a voice that confirms hope. H. Carl McCall's deeply moving and informative book has something we have shared over the years, and that is Faith. The book takes me back to the early sixties, to a time when I was just beginning my work in journalism and was myself truly blessed to find Carl when he was lifting up the kinds of people he writes about—the people who had no voice of their own. A great road map for any and all times." — Charlayne Hunter-Gault, author of To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

"With grace and insight, Carl McCall takes us from his close-knit Black working-class neighborhood in Boston to Dartmouth College and the halls of power in New York, to illuminate the lessons forged from his remarkable life. An intimate, poignant, and instructive meditation on honor, public service, and a life well lived." — Pamela Newkirk, author of Diversity, Inc.: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Industry

"My congratulations to Carl McCall on his autobiography that adds to the important history of Black achievers whose successes counter persistent negative racial stereotypes. We first met when he was a teenager in Roxbury, Massachusetts, as an extension of his friendship with my younger siblings. Even then he displayed his self-discipline and ambition, which matched his personal charm: a potent combination. Along with his wife, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President of FIT, they are a true power duo who have enhanced the Black experience." — Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., author of Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer

"Carl McCall, who has overcome obstacles, broken barriers, and served the public with great distinction—and whom I've had the honor to know for nearly fifty years—now shares his amazing life story in a book that should be required reading for every current and aspiring elected official. As his memoir will powerfully remind us: if every public servant shared Mr. McCall's commitment and work ethic, our state and nation would be the better for it. Here is not only a must-read autobiography, but a how-to guide to effective and inspiring leadership." — Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion

America in Denial: How Race-Fair Policies Reinforce Racial Inequality in America, by Lori Latrice Martin, examines how race-neutral programs and policies harm, rather than improve, the lives of blacks in the United States.

More Than Our Pain: Affect and Emotion in the Era of Black Lives Matter, edited by Beth Hinderliter & Steve Peraza, covers rage and grief, as well as joy and fatigue, and examines how Black Lives Matter activists, and the artists inspired by them, have mobilized for social justice.

"More Than Our Pain is a thought-provoking compilation, highly recommended especially for college library social issues collections." — Midwest Book Review

Blacks in Niagara Falls: Leaders and Community Development, 1850-1985, by Michael B. Boston, is a detailed study of the history of African Americans in a small upstate New York city from the days of the Underground Railroad to the deindustrialization of the 1980s.

Black Women's Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace, by Stephanie Y. Evans, examines how Black women elders have managed stress, emphasizing how self-care practices have been present since at least the mid-nineteenth century, with roots in African traditions.

"…useful to a broad range of readers, including students and scholars in women's studies, Black women's studies, intellectual history, and religion and health. The life stories of the popular figures whom they respect will attract general interest readers. Her well-indexed text makes this encyclopedic volume easy to read selectively for this interdisciplinary range of research purposes." — Nova Religio

"Extensively researched and candidly personal, this history of Black women's self-care practices explores the African roots to the current multitude of ways Black women have for resting, healing, managing stress, and finding restorative inner peace." — Ms. Magazine

"Truly a labor of love and a gift, this groundbreaking book demystifies Black women's self-care by providing very explicit examples of what it looks like and how to do it! I look forward to recommending and sharing it." — Karla D. Scott, author of The Language of Strong Black Womanhood: Myths, Models, Messages, and a New Mandate for Self-Care

Plantation Politics and Campus Rebellions: Power, Diversity, and the Emancipatory Struggle in Higher Education, edited by Bianca C. Williams, Dian D. Squire, and Frank A. Tuitt, argues that plantation life, its racialized inequities, and the ongoing struggle against them are embedded in not only the physical structures but also the everyday workings of higher education.

"…Plantation Politics and Campus Rebellions is notable in that it signals one of the first extended meditations on antiblackness in higher education in its collection of writings and engagements across disciplinary type. Further, what this text makes most crucially clear in its investment in mapping the power relations of plantation is an invitation to center the actions of Black people directly––often painfully absent in scholarship that attends anti-black racism. And for that reason alone, the text deserves more than credit." — Professor Educator Advance

"This collection of essays is a timely and vital contribution to the examination of race in higher education. These are hard-hitting essays from an extraordinary slate of contributors." — Ms. Magazine

A 2020 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, African Americans and the First Amendment: The Case for Liberty and Equality, by Timothy C. Shiell, is the first detailed examination of African Americans and First Amendment rights, from the colonial era to the present.

"…Shiell's book is an important contribution to the literature on both the First and Fourteenth Amendments that elegantly pleas for recognizing their mutual importance in the ongoing quest for civil rights and liberties." — Free Speech Center

"This thoroughly documented study does an excellent job of combining philosophy, law, history, and political science … Highly recommended." — CHOICE

"A splendid book on all accounts, and a necessary one in today's heated debate over free speech." — Donald Alexander Downs, author of Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus

The Revolution Will Not Be Theorized: Cultural Revolution in the Black Power Era, by Errol A. Henderson, studies the revolutionary theory of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s through ʼ70s, placing it within the broader social theory of black revolution in the United States since the nineteenth century.

"Errol A. Henderson's masterful and powerful book lays bare the complex dynamics of the revolutionary black nationalist tradition in the US empire. It is the best treatment we have of the theoretical contributions of Malcolm X, Harold Cruse, Grace Boggs, and others that attempt to connect revolutionary efforts to black cultural institutions. His fascinating reflections on reverse civilizationism are worth the book! And Henderson's magisterial work helps bring back revolutionary theory and praxis in our grim neofascist times!" — Cornel West

"This book is not only one of the most intellectually ambitious works but also the most comprehensive examination of revolutionary theory in the Black Power Era. A monumental accomplishment. Bravo!" — Komozi Woodard, author of A Nation within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics

Ronald W. Walters and the Fight for Black Power, 1969-2010, by Robert C. Smith, combines history and biography to interpret the last half century of black politics in America as represented in the life and work of a pivotal African American public intellectual.

"Smith's sympathetic but probing and nuanced account offers a unique glimpse into the struggles, successes, and satisfactions of Walters's engaged life." — Journal of American History

"This political biography's intellectual dissecting should be seen as a definitive roadmap to the future of American-based Black nationalist and Pan-African political development." — Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

"This book makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of one of the most pivotal scholarly voices in global black politics of the twentieth century. Smith has done an excellent job capturing the personality, history, and the interpersonal affections and loyalties of this extraordinary man." — Todd C. Shaw, author of Now Is the Time! Detroit Black Politics and Grassroots Activism

"Organizing Ron's biography around the evolution of the black struggle is a really great and appropriate idea; the struggle and Ron were one." — Mack H. Jones, author of Knowledge, Power, and Black Politics: Collected Essays

Winner of the 2017 Homer D. Babbidge Jr. Award presented by the Association for the Study of Connecticut History, Hopes and Expectations: The Origins of the Black Middle Class in Hartford, by Barbara J. Beeching, describes in rich detail African American daily life among free blacks in the North in the 1860s.

"This is a powerful book and a truly important story. Beeching provides a richly detailed survey of life in Connecticut, the political and racial climates at various historical moments, and the web of intraracial and interracial networks that informed the Primus family experiences. Multifaceted and thoroughly absorbing, Hopes and Expectations will reintroduce people to a New England that they thought they knew." — Lois Brown, author of Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins: Black Daughter of the Revolution

Explore SUNY Press's full list of titles for Juneteenth and save 30% with code HERITAGE624 through June 30, 2024.