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Aaron Henry of Mississippi
Inside Agitator
Minion K. C. Morrison
University of Arkansas Press, 2015
Winner of the 2016 Lillian Smith Book Award

When Aaron Henry returned home to Mississippi from World War II service in 1946, he was part of wave of black servicemen who challenged the racial status quo. He became a pharmacist through the GI Bill, and as a prominent citizen, he organized a hometown chapter of the NAACP and relatively quickly became leader of the state chapter.

From that launching pad he joined and helped lead an ensemble of activists who fundamentally challenged the system of segregation and the almost total exclusion of African Americans from the political structure. These efforts were most clearly evident in his leadership of the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation, which, after an unsuccessful effort to unseat the lily-white Democratic delegation at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, won recognition from the national party in 1968.

The man who the New York Times described as being “at the forefront of every significant boycott, sit-in, protest march, rally, voter registration drive and court case” eventually became a rare example of a social-movement leader who successfully moved into political office. Aaron Henry of Mississippi covers the life of this remarkable leader, from his humble beginnings in a sharecropping family to his election to the Mississippi house of representatives in 1979, all the while maintaining the social-change ideology that prompted him to improve his native state, and thereby the nation.

front cover of African Activists of the Twentieth Century
African Activists of the Twentieth Century
Hani, Maathai, Mpama/Palmer, Saro-Wiwa
Hugh Macmillan
Ohio University Press, 2022

An omnibus collection of concise and up-to-date biographies of four influential figures from modern African history.

Chris Hani, by Hugh Macmillan
Chris Hani was one of the most highly respected leaders of the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party, and uMkhonto we Sizwe. His assassination in 1993 threatened to upset the country’s transition to democracy and prompted an intervention by Nelson Mandela that ultimately accelerated apartheid’s demise.

Wangari Maathai, by Tabitha Kanogo
This concise biography tells the story of Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner who devoted her life to campaigning for environmental conservation, sustainable development, democracy, human rights, gender equality, and the eradication of poverty.

Josie Mpama/Palmer: Get Up and Get Moving, by Robert R. Edgar
Highly critical of the patriarchal attitudes that hindered Black women’s political activism, South Africa’s Josie Mpama/Palmer was an outspoken advocate for women’s social and political equality, a member of the Communist Party of South Africa, and an antiapartheid activist.

Ken Saro-Wiwa, by Roy Doron and Toyin Falola
A penetrating, accessible portrait of the Nigerian activist whose execution galvanized the world. Ken Saro-Wiwa became a martyr and symbolized modern Africans’ struggle against military dictatorship, corporate power, and environmental exploitation.


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An African American in South Africa
The Travel Notes of Ralph J. Bunche 28 September 1937–1 January 1938
Ralph Bunche
Ohio University Press, 2001

Ralph Bunche, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, traveled to South Africa for three months in 1937. His notes, which have been skillfully compiled and annotated by historian Robert R. Edgar, provide unique insights on a segregated society.


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Agatha Tiegel Hanson
Our Places in the Sun
Kathy Jankowski
Gallaudet University Press, 2023
Agatha Tiegel Hanson (1873-1959) is regarded as a seminal figure in Deaf history for her writing, advocacy, and leadership, though her accomplishments merit recognition within the larger context of American history as well. Barely fifteen years old in 1888, Tiegel Hanson became one of the first women to attend the nation's only college for Deaf students, the National Deaf-Mute College, now known as Gallaudet University. Amid the hostility and skepticism of male students and faculty, she achieved exemplary academic success and was the first woman to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from the college. Upon facing stringent campus restrictions and exclusion from male-only organizations and activities, Tiegel Hanson cofounded a society for female students. Her prerequisite graduation presentation, "The Intellect of Woman," was a powerful oratory that urged women to “move on till all barriers crumble and fall.”

Throughout her life, Agatha Tiegel Hanson worked to advance the rights of Deaf people and women, and she was a passionate advocate of sign language rights. Her contributions include creative written works as well as influential treatises. She served in leadership positions at several Deaf organizations and, along with her husband, noted Deaf architect Olof Hanson, she played a vital role in the Deaf cultural life of the time. In Agatha Tiegel Hanson: Our Places in the Sun, author Kathy Jankowski presents a portrait of this trailblazer, and celebrates her impact on the Deaf community and beyond. This biography will be of interest to those already familiar with Tiegel Hanson’s legacy as well as to readers who are discovering her extraordinary life for the first time.

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Albert Luthuli
Robert Trent Vinson
Ohio University Press, 2018

In an excellent addition to the Ohio Short Histories of Africa series, Robert Trent Vinson recovers the important but largely forgotten story of Albert Luthuli, Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner and president of the African National Congress from 1952 to 1967. One of the most respected African leaders, Luthuli linked South African antiapartheid politics with other movements, becoming South Africa’s leading advocate of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent civil disobedience techniques. He also framed apartheid as a crime against humanity and thus linked South African antiapartheid struggles with international human rights campaigns.

Unlike previous studies, this book places Luthuli and the South African antiapartheid struggle in new global contexts, and aspects of Luthuli’s leadership that were not previously publicly known: Vinson is the first to use new archival evidence, numerous oral interviews, and personal memoirs to reveal that Luthuli privately supported sabotage as an additional strategy to end apartheid. This multifaceted portrait will be indispensable to students of African history and politics and nonviolence movements worldwide.


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All Things Human
Henry Codman Potter and the Social Gospel in the Episcopal Church
Michael Bourgeois
University of Illinois Press, 2004

In addition to being the sixth bishop of the Diocese of New York, Henry Codman Potter (1835-1908) was a prominent voice in the Social Gospel movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book, the first in-depth study of Potter's life and work, examines his career in the Episcopal church as well as the origins and legacy of his progressive social views.

As industrialization and urbanization spread in the nineteenth century, the Social Gospel movement sought to apply Christian teachings to effect improvements in the lives of the less fortunate. Potter was firmly in this tradition, concerning himself especially with issues of race, the place of women in society, questions of labor and capital, and what he called "political righteousness." Placing Potter against the wider backdrop of nineteenth-century American Protestantism, Bourgeois explores the experiences and influences that led him to espouse these socially conscious beliefs, to work for social reform, and to write such works as  Sermons of the City (1881) and The Citizen in His Relation to the Industrial Situation (1902).

In telling Potter's remarkable story, All Things Human stands as a valuable contribution to intellectual and religious history as well as an exploration of the ways in which religion and society interact.


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Amílcar Cabral
A Nationalist and Pan-Africanist Revolutionary
Peter Karibe Mendy
Ohio University Press, 2019

Amílcar Cabral was an agronomist who led an armed struggle that ended Portuguese colonialism in Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde. The uprising contributed significantly to the collapse of a fascist regime in Lisbon and the dismantlement of Portugal’s empire in Africa. Assassinated by a close associate with the deep complicity of the Portuguese colonial authorities, Cabral not only led one of Africa’s most successful liberation movements, but was the voice and face of the anticolonial wars against Portugal.

A brilliant military strategist and astute diplomat, Cabral was an original thinker who wrote innovative and inspirational essays that still resonate today. His charismatic and visionary leadership, his active pan-Africanist solidarity and internationalist commitment to “every just cause in the world,” remain relevant to contemporary struggles for emancipation and self-determination. Peter Karibe Mendy’s compact and accessible biography is an ideal introduction to his life and legacy.


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Black in Selma
The Uncommon Life of J. L. Chestnut Jr.
J. L. Chestnut
University of Alabama Press, 2007
“The autobiography of J. L. Chestnut is the story of Selma’s first black lawyer and prodigal son, but it is also part of the history of the race, sweeping biblically from enslavement by segregation to freedom to the ambitious aftermath of redemption.”  —New York Times Book Review
Born in Selma in 1930, J. L. Chestnut left home to study law at Howard University in Washington, DC. Returning to Selma, Chestnut was the town’s first and only African American attorney in the late 1950s. As the turbulent struggle for civil rights spread across the South, Chestnut became an active and ardent promoter of social and legal equality in his hometown. A key player on the local and state fronts, Chestnut accrued deep insights into the racial tensions in his community and deftly opened paths toward a more equitable future.
Though intimately involved in many events that took place in Selma, Chestnut was nevertheless often identified in history books simply as “a local attorney.” Black in Selma reveals his powerful yet little-known story.
In the 2014 film Selma, director Ava DuVernay takes audiences to the climactic confrontation between civil rights advocates and the state’s security forces of March 1965. Readers looking for a deeper understanding of the events that preceded that epic moment, as well as how racial integration unfolded in Selma in the decades that followed, will find Chestnut’s story and memories both a vital primary source and an inspiration.

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Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Small Histories during World War II, Letter Writing, and Family History Methodology
Suzanne Kesler Rumsey
University of Alabama Press, 2021
An uncommon and intimate account of the lives of two conscientious objectors
In the summer of 2013, Suzanne Kesler Rumsey discovered hundreds of letters exchanged between her late grandparents, Miriam and Benjamin Kesler. The letters, written between 1941 and 1946, were filled with typical wartime sentiments: love and longing, anguish at being apart, uncertainty about the war and the country’s future, and attempts at humor to keep their spirits up. What is unusual about their story is that Ben Kesler was not writing from a theater of war. Instead, Ben, a member of the Dunkard Brethren Church, was a conscientious objector. He, along with about 12,000 other men, opted to join the Civilian Public Service (CPS) and contribute to “work of national importance” at one of the 218 CPS camps around the country.

In Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Small Histories during World War II, Letter Writing, and Family History Methodology, Rumsey has mined not only her grandparents’ letters but also archival research on CPS camps and historical data from several Mennonite and Brethren archives to recapture the narrative of Ben’s service at two different camps and of Miriam’s struggle to support herself and her husband financially at the young age of seventeen. Ben and Miriam’s life during the war was extraordinarily ordinary, spanning six years of unrecognized and humble work for their country. Ben was not compensated for his work in the camps, and Miriam stayed home and worked as a day laborer, as a live-in maid, as a farmhand, and in the family butcher shop in order to earn enough money to support them both. Small histories like that of her grandparents, Rumsey argues, provide a unique perspective on significant political and historical moments.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers also explores the rhetorical functions of letter writing as well as the methodology of family history writing. Ben and Miriam’s letters provide an apt backdrop to examine the genre, a relatively understudied mode of literacy. Rumsey situates the young couple’s correspondence within ars dictaminis, the art of letter writing, granting new insights into the genre and how personal accounts shape our understanding of historical events.

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Blue Jenkins
Working for Workers
Julia Pferdehirt
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2011
When William "Blue" Jenkins was only six months old, he moved with his parents from a Mississippi sharecropper’s farm to the industrial city of Racine, Wisconsin with dreams of a new life. As an African-American in the pre–civil rights era, Blue came face to face with racism: the Ku Klux Klan hung a black figure in effigy from a tree in the Jenkins family’s yard. Growing up, Blue knew where blacks could shop, eat, and get a job in Racine—and where they couldn’t. The injustices that confronted Blue in his young life would drive his desire to make positive changes to his community and workplace in adulthood.
This addition to the Badger Biographies series shares Blue Jenkins’s story as it acquaints young readers with African-American and labor history. Following an all-star career as a high school football player, Blue became involved in unions through his work at Belle City Malleable. As World War II raged on, he participated in the home-front battle against discrimination in work, housing, and economic opportunity. When Blue became president of the union at Belle City, he organized blood drives and fought for safety regulations. He also helped to integrate labor union offices. In 1962, he became president of the U.A.W. National Foundry in the Midwest, and found himself in charge of 50,000 foundry union members.

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Bringing the Civic Back In
Zane L. Miller and American Urban History
Edited by Larry Bennett, John D. Fairfield, and Patricia Mooney-Melvin
Temple University Press, 2022

With the passing of Zane L. Miller in 2016, academia lost a renowned scholar and one of the key founders of new urban history—a branch of the discipline that placed urban life at the center of American history and treated the city as an arena for civic and political action. He was a devoted, tireless mentor who published or fostered dozens of books and articles on urban history. He also co-founded Temple University Press’ foundational series Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy. 

Bringing the Civic Back In provides a critical overview, appreciation, and extension of Miller’s work as scholar, editor, mentor, colleague, and citizen. Included are three excerpts from Miller’s final, unfinished work, in which he presented cities as the source of a civic nationalism he viewed as fundamental to the development of American democracy. The editors—along with contributors Robert B. Fairbanks and Charles Lester—reflect on the life and work of their friend as well as his role in creating a Cincinnati school of urban history. These original essays by practitioners of Miller’s approach highlight the power of ideas to shape social change.


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Clouds Without Rain
An Amish Country Mystery
P. L. Gaus
Ohio University Press, 2001

Written in the tradition of Tony Hillerman, in Clouds without Rain, P. L. Gaus once again provides compelling intrigue and insight into Amish culture and tradition alongside contemporary American life.

In the wake of a fatal accident involving an Amish buggy and an eighteen-wheeler, Professor Michael Branden, working with the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department, becomes suspicious about the true nature of the crash. His suspicions only grow when the trustee of the dead man’s estate disappears a few days later.

Faced with Amish teenagers in goat masks robbing buggies on dusty lanes, land swindles involving out-of-town developers, several mysterious deaths, and the disappearance of a bank official, Branden realizes that there is far more to the story than a buggy crash on a sleepy country road.

This new edition of Clouds without Rain  features an exclusive interview with the author, reading group materials, and a detailed map and driving guide to Holmes County, Ohio with everything one needs to visit the iconic scenes depicted in the story.


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Constance Baker Motley
One Woman's Fight for Civil Rights and Equal Justice under Law
Gary L. Ford Jr.
University of Alabama Press, 2017
When the name Constance Baker Motley is mentioned, more often than not, the response is “Who was she?” or “What did she do?” The answer is multifaceted, complex, and inspiring.

Constance Baker Motley was an African American woman; the daughter of immigrants from Nevis, British West Indies; a wife; and a mother who became a pioneer and trailblazer in the legal profession. She broke down barriers, overcame gender constraints, and operated outside the boundaries placed on black women by society and the civil rights movement. In Constance Baker Motley: One Woman’s Fight for Civil Rights and Equal Justice under Law, Gary L. Ford Jr. explores the key role Motley played in the legal fight to desegregate public schools as well as colleges, universities, housing, transportation, lunch counters, museums, libraries, parks, and other public accommodations.
The only female attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Motley was also the only woman who argued desegregation cases in court during much of the civil rights movement. From 1946 through 1964, she was a key litigator and legal strategist for landmark civil rights cases including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and represented Martin Luther King Jr. as well as other protesters arrested and jailed as a result of their participation in sit-ins, marches, and freedom rides.
Motley was a leader who exhibited a leadership style that reflected her personality traits, skills, and strengths. She was a visionary who formed alliances and inspired local counsel to work with her to achieve the goals of the civil rights movement. As a leader and agent of change, she was committed to the cause of justice and she performed important work in the trenches in the South and behind the scene in courts that helped make the civil rights movement successful.

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Danger, Man Working
Writing from the Heart, the Gut, and the Poison Ivy Patch
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2017

"Every writer has advice for aspiring writers. Mine is predicated on formative years spent cleaning my father’s calf pens: Just keep shoveling until you’ve got a pile so big, someone has to notice. The fact that I cast my life’s work as slung manure simply proves that I recognize an apt metaphor when I accidentally stick it with a pitchfork. . . . Poetry was my first love, my gateway drug—still the poets are my favorites—but I quickly realized I lacked the chops or insights to survive on verse alone. But I wanted to write. Every day. And so I read everything I could about freelancing, and started shoveling." 

The pieces gathered within this book draw on fifteen years of what Michael Perry calls "shovel time"—a writer going to work as the work is offered. The range of subjects is wide, from musky fishing, puking, and mountain-climbing Iraq War veterans to the frozen head of Ted Williams. Some assignments lead to self-examination of an alarming magnitude (as Perry notes, "It quickly becomes obvious that I am a self-absorbed hypochondriac forever resolving to do better nutritionally and fitness-wise but my follow-through is laughable.") But his favorites are those that allow him to turn the lens outward: "My greatest privilege," he says, "lies not in telling my own story; it lies in being trusted to tell the story of another."


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Dead Weight
A Memoir in Essays
Randall Horton
Northwestern University Press, 2022
Dead Weight chronicles the improbable turnaround of a drug smuggler who, after being sentenced to eight years in state prison, returned to society to earn a PhD in creative writing and become the only tenured professor in the United States with seven felony convictions. Horton’s visceral essays highlight the difficulties of trying to change one’s life for the better, how the weight of felony convictions never dissipates.
The memoir begins with a conversation between Horton and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man statue in New York City. Their imagined dialogue examines the psychological impact of racism on Black men and boys, including Horton’s separation from his mother, immediately after his birth, in a segregated Alabama hospital. From his current life as a professor and prison reformer, Horton looks back on his experiences as a drug smuggler and trafficker during the 1980s–1990s as well as the many obstacles he faced after his release. He also examines the lasting impact of his drug activity on those around him, reflecting on the allure of economic freedom and the mental escapism that cocaine provided, an allure so strong that both sellers and users were willing to risk prison. Horton shares historical context and vivid details about people caught in the war on drugs who became unsuspecting protagonists in somebody else’s melodrama.
Lyrical and gripping, Dead Weight reveals the lifelong effects of one man’s incarceration on his psyche, his memories, and his daily experience of American society.

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Death to Fascism
Louis Adamic's Fight for Democracy
John P. Enyeart
University of Illinois Press, 2019
Born to Slovenian peasants, Louis Adamic commanded crowds, met with FDR and Truman, and built a prolific career as an author and journalist. Behind the scenes, he played a leading role in a coalition of black intellectuals and writers, working class militants, ethnic activists, and others that worked for a multiethnic America and against fascism. John Enyeart restores Adamic's life to the narrative of American history. Dogged and energetic, Adamic championed causes that ranged from ethnic and racial equality to worker's rights to anticolonialism. Adamic defied the consensus that equated being American with Anglo-Protestant culture. Instead, he insisted newcomers and their ideas kept the American identity in a state of dynamism that pushed it from strength to strength. In time, Adamic's views put him at odds with an establishment dedicated to cold war aggression and white supremacy. He increasingly fought smear campaigns and the distortion of his views--both of which continued after his probable murder in 1951.

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Desert Rose
The Life and Legacy of Coretta Scott King
Edythe Scott Bagley with Joe Hilley
University of Alabama Press, 2012
Details Coretta Scott King's upbringing in a family of proud, land-owning African Americans with a profound devotion to the ideals of social equality and the values of education

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Dixie Heretic
The Civil Rights Odyssey of Renwick C. Kennedy
Tennant McWilliams
University of Alabama Press, 2023
A life-and-times biography of the minister and social reformer Renwick C. Kennedy
Drawn from some 5,000 letters, six decades of daily-diary writings, and extensive interviews, Dixie Heretic: The Civil Rights Odyssey of Renwick C. Kennedy offers a life-and-times biography of the Alabama Black Belt minister, Renwick C. Kennedy (1900–1985). Here, Tennant McWilliams gives an unvarnished account of Kennedy’s tortuous efforts to make his congregants and other southern whites “better Christians.”

Kennedy came from “upcountry” South Carolina, a place rife with Scotch-Irish Associate Reformed Presbyterians—people of biblical infallibility and individual piety and salvation. In 1927, after a life-changing theology education at Princeton, he moved to Camden, Alabama, county seat of Wilcox County. There, he came to believe that God had a mandate for him: to change the “Half Christian” conservative, and the often violent, racial behaviors around him. As a neo-orthodox Protestant, Kennedy never rejected literal approaches to the Bible. Still, out of the “Full Christian” Social Gospel, he urged changed racial behavior. Ultimately this led him to publish confrontational short stories and essays in Christian Century and New Republic—most set in fictitious “Yaupon County.”

In World War II, Kennedy served as a chaplain with the famed 102nd Evacuation Hospital. He came home hoping the Allied victory would spur Americans to fight racial segregation just as they had fought racial fascism in Europe. The 1948 Dixiecrat movement dashed these hopes, turning much of his neo-orthodox optimism to cynicism. His hope found fleeting resurgence in the civil rights movement, and saw Kennedy quietly leading desegregation of Troy University, where he was an administrator. But the era’s assassinations, combined with George Wallace and the rise of southern white Republicans, regularly returned him to the frustrated hopes of 1948 and fostered a pessimism about truly changed hearts that he took to his grave in 1985.

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Dolores Huerta Stands Strong
The Woman Who Demanded Justice
Marlene Targ Brill
Ohio University Press, 2018

Selected as a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year for 2018 (Category: Twelve–Fourteen)
“A biography for the times … An excellent read for anyone hoping to believe one person can make a difference.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“This well-told, age-appropriate account of a vital and essential activist deserves a place in all middle grade collections.” —School Library Journal (starred review)

Today, we know Dolores Huerta as the cofounder, with Cesar Chavez, of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America. We know her as a tireless advocate for the rights of farmworkers, Mexican American immigrants, women, and LGBTQ populations. And we know her as the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2012.

Before all that, though, Huerta was a child in the farming community of Stockton, California, and then a teenager whose teachers underestimated her because she was Chicana. When she became a teacher herself, she witnessed her students coming to school shoeless and hungry. Many took days off from school to work in the farm fields to help feed their families. What could she do to help them? A young mother at the time, Huerta quit her teaching job to organize their parents. That began her journey to educate a nation about who produces our food and the conditions under which they work.

Dolores Huerta Stands Strong follows Huerta’s life from the mining communities of the Southwest where her father toiled, to the vineyards and fields of California, and across the country to the present day. As she worked for fair treatment for others, Dolores earned the nation’s highest honors. More important, she found her voice.


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Eleanor Baldwin and the Woman's Point of View
New Thought Radicalism in Portland’s Progressive Era
Lawrence M. Lipin
Oregon State University Press, 2017
Eleanor Baldwin and the Woman’s Point of View is an intellectual biography of a long-forgotten radical female journalist in Portland, whose daily women’s columns provide a window into the breadth of intellectual radicalism in Progressive Era journalism. Baldwin was one of an early generation of female journalists who were hired to lure female readers to the daily newspaper’s department store advertisements. Instead of catering to the demands of consumerism, Baldwin quickly brought an anti-capitalist, antiracist agenda to her column, “The Woman’s Point of View." She eschewed household hints and instead focused on the immorality of capitalists and imperialists while emphasizing the need for women to become independent and productive citizens. 
A century before the Occupy movement and the Women’s March, Baldwin spoke truth to power. Imbued with a New Thought spirituality that presumed progressive thought could directly affect material reality, she wrote to move history forward. And yet, the trajectory of history proved as hard to forecast then as now.  While her personal story seems to embody a modern progressivism, blending abolition with labor reform and anti-banker activism—positions from which she never wavered—her path grew more complicated as times changed in the aftermath of World War I, when she would advocate on behalf of both the Bolsheviks and the Ku Klux Klan.
In this deeply researched and nuanced account of Eleanor Baldwin’s intellectual journey, historian Larry Lipin reveals how even the most dedicated radical can be overcome by unforeseen events. Eleanor Baldwin and the Woman’s Point of View restores a missing chapter in Portland’s Progressive Era history and rescues this passionate, intriguing, and quixotic character from undeserved obscurity.

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Father Groppi
Marching for Civil Rights
Stuart Stotts
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013

Father Groppi Marched to Change Milwaukee

"Father Groppi: Marching for Civil Rights" tells the story of Father James Groppi, a Catholic priest from Milwaukee, Wis., who stood up for civil rights in the 1960s and 1970s.

This important new addition to the Badger Biographies series for young readers also tells about a turbulent time in Wisconsin history and sheds light on the civil rights movement and its place in the North.

Growing up on the south side of Milwaukee as the son of Italian immigrants, young James Groppi learned early on what it felt like to be made fun of just because of who you are, and he learned to respect people from other races and ethnic groups. Later, while studying to become a priest, he saw the discrimination African Americans faced. It made him angry, and he vowed to do whatever he could to fight racism.

Father Groppi marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the civil rights movement. But he knew there was work to be done in his own city. In Milwaukee, he teamed up with the NAACP and other organizations, protesting discrimination and segregation wherever they saw it. It wasn't always easy, and Father Groppi and the other civil rights workers faced great challenges.


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Fearless Women
Feminist Patriots from Abigail Adams to Beyoncé
Elizabeth Cobbs
Harvard University Press, 2023

“A gripping panoramic history that pairs ingenious excavation with enlightening explanation to relight the fire of feminist political identity at the very moment when we need it most.”―Tiya Miles, author of All That She Carried

This passionate and inspiring book by the New York Times bestselling author of The Hello Girls shows us that the quest for women’s rights is deeply entwined with the founding story of the United States.

When America became a nation, a woman had no legal existence beyond her husband. If he abused her, she couldn’t leave without abandoning her children. Abigail Adams tried to change this, reminding her husband John to “remember the ladies” when he wrote the Constitution. He simply laughed—and women have been fighting for their rights ever since.

Fearless Women tells the story of women who dared to take destiny into their own hands. They were feminists and antifeminists, activists and homemakers, victims of abuse and pathbreaking professionals. Inspired by the nation’s ideals and fueled by an unshakeable sense of right and wrong, they wouldn’t take no for an answer. In time, they carried the country with them.

The first right they won was the right to learn. Later, impassioned teachers like Angelina Grimké and Susan B. Anthony campaigned for the right to speak in public, lobby the government, and own property. Some were passionate abolitionists. Others fought just to protect their own children.

Many of these women devoted their lives to the cause—some are famous—but most pressed their demands far from the spotlight, insisting on their right to vote, sit on a jury, control the timing of their pregnancies, enjoy equal partnerships, or earn a living. At every step, they faced fierce opposition. Elizabeth Cobbs gives voice to fearless women on both sides of the aisle, most of whom considered themselves patriots. Rich and poor, from all backgrounds and regions, they show that the women’s movement has never been an exclusive club.


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Fighter in Velvet Gloves
Study Guide
Annie Boochever
University of Alaska Press, 2021
In 1945, Elizabeth Peratrovich stood before the Alaska Territorial Legislative Session and gave a powerful speech about her childhood and her experiences being treated as a second-class citizen. Her heartfelt testimony led to the passing of the landmark Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act, America’s first civil rights legislation. Today, Alaska celebrates Elizabeth Peratrovich Day every February 16, and Elizabeth Peratrovich was honored on the gold dollar coin in 2020.
Annie Boochever worked with Elizabeth’s eldest son, Roy Peratrovich Jr., to bring Elizabeth’s story to life in the first book written for young teens on this remarkable Alaska Native woman. Written about an Alaska Native civil rights leader, Fighter in Velvet Gloves has been incorporated in school curricula around the country, and won the 2019 Lumen Award for Literary Excellence, in addition to receiving many other national recognitions. This study guide is a custom work designed to help instructors teach the story of Elizabeth Peratrovich to students in grades 6 through 12.

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The First Twenty-Five
An Oral History of the Desegregation of Little Rock’s Public Junior High Schools
LaVerne Bell-Tolliver
University of Arkansas Press, 2018

“It was one of those periods that you got through, as opposed to enjoyed. It wasn’t an environment that . . . was nurturing, so you shut it out. You just got through it. You just took it a day at a time. You excelled if you could. You did your best. You felt as though the eyes of the community were on you.”—Glenda Wilson, East Side Junior High

Much has been written about the historical desegregation of Little Rock Central High School by nine African American students in 1957. History has been silent, however, about the students who desegregated Little Rock’s five public junior high schools—East Side, Forest Heights, Pulaski Heights, Southwest, and West Side—in 1961 and 1962.

The First Twenty-Five gathers the personal stories of these students some fifty years later. They recall what it was like to break down long-standing racial barriers while in their early teens—a developmental stage that often brings emotional vulnerability. In their own words, these individuals share what they saw, heard, and felt as children on the front lines of the civil rights movement, providing insight about this important time in Little Rock, and how these often painful events from their childhoods affected the rest of their lives.


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Frantz Fanon
Toward a Revolutionary Humanism
Christopher J. Lee
Ohio University Press, 2015

Psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Frantz Fanon is one of the most important intellectuals of the twentieth century. He presented powerful critiques of racism, colonialism, and nationalism in his classic books, Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961). This biography reintroduces Fanon for a new generation of readers, revisiting these enduring themes while also arguing for those less appreciated—namely, his anti-Manichean sensibility and his personal ethic of radical empathy, both of which underpinned his utopian vision of a new humanism. Written with clarity and passion, Christopher J. Lee’s account ultimately argues for the pragmatic idealism of Frantz Fanon and his continued importance today.


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From Jail to Jail
Tan Malaka
Ohio University Press, 2020

From Jail to Jail  is the political autobiography of Sutan Ibrahim gelar Tan Malaka, an enigmatic and colorful political thinker of twentieth-century Asia, who was one of the most influential figures of the Indonesian Revolution. Variously labeled a communist, Trotskyite, and nationalist, Tan Malaka managed to run afoul of nearly every political group and faction involved in the Indonesian struggle for independence. During his decades of political activity, he spent periods of exile and hiding in nearly every country in Southeast Asia. As a Marxist who was expelled from and became a bitter enemy of his country’s Communist Party and as a nationalist who was imprisoned and murdered by his own government’s forces as a danger to its anticolonial struggle, Tan Malaka was and continues to be soaked in contradiction and controversy.

Translated by Helen Javis and with a new introduction from Harry A. Poeze, this edition of From Jail to Jail contextualizes the life and political accomplishments of Tan Malaka in one of the few known autobiographies by a Marxist of this political era and region.


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From Jail to Jail
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Tan Malaka
Ohio University Press, 1991

From Jail to Jail  is the political autobiography of Sutan Ibrahim gelar Tan Malaka, an enigmatic and colorful political thinker of twentieth-century Asia, who was one of the most influential figures of the Indonesian Revolution. Variously labeled a communist, Trotskyite, and nationalist, Tan Malaka managed to run afoul of nearly every political group and faction involved in the Indonesian struggle for independence. During his decades of political activity, he spent periods of exile and hiding in nearly every country in Southeast Asia. As a Marxist who was expelled from and became a bitter enemy of his country’s Communist Party and as a nationalist who was imprisoned and murdered by his own government’s forces as a danger to its anticolonial struggle, Tan Malaka was and continues to be soaked in contradiction and controversy.


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The Ghost of Equality
The Public Lives of D. D. T. Jabavu of South Africa, 1885–1959
Catherine Higgs
Ohio University Press, 1996

Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu was born in the Cape Colony in British southern Africa on October 20, 1885, when a few African men could vote and the prospects for black equality with the ruling whites seemed promising. He died on August 3, 1959, in the Cape Province of the Union of South Africa, eleven years after the apartheid state had begun stripping blacks of their rights and exorcising the ‘ghost of equality’ with a completeness unparalleled in the country’s history. The ‘ghost of equality was the last vestige of the Cape liberal tradition — itself best summed up by the dictum ’equal rights for all civilized men‘ — finally erased in 1959 with the passage of legislation that would, the following year, remove from parliament the last elected white representatives of Africans.…

If D.D.T. Jabavu’s life reveals anything about South Africa’s political history, it is that this history was not monolithic. It was not simply a lengthly confrontation between a black elite represented by the African National Congress and the white segregationist state. Rather, there was a range of black political opinion and activity, of which Jabavu, an active participant in virtually every government-sponsored and every major extraparliamentary conference between 1920 and the late 1940s, represented one prominent historical strain.

This book, however, is about more than D.D.T. Javavu’s politics; it is about his public life, or perhaps more accurately, his public lives. The book is arranged thematically, divided according to the parts Jabavu played: student, teacher, Methodist, and politician.

— from the introduction by the author


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Harry Bridges
Labor Radical, Labor Legend
Robert W. Cherny
University of Illinois Press, 2023

The iconic leader of one of America’s most powerful unions, Harry Bridges put an indelible stamp on the twentieth century labor movement. Robert Cherny’s monumental biography tells the life story of the figure who built the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) into a labor powerhouse that still represents almost 30,000 workers.

An Australian immigrant, Bridges worked the Pacific Coast docks. His militant unionism placed him at the center of the 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike and spurred him to expand his organizing activities to warehouse laborers and Hawaiian sugar and pineapple workers. Cherny examines the overall effectiveness of Bridges as a union leader and the decisions and traits that made him effective. Cherny also details the price paid by Bridges as the US government repeatedly prosecuted him for his left-wing politics.

Drawing on personal interviews with Bridges and years of exhaustive research, Harry Bridges places an extraordinary individual and the ILWU within the epic history of twentieth-century labor radicalism.


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Here I Stand
The Life and Legacy of John Beecher
Angela J. Smith
University of Alabama Press, 2017
Biography of a forgotten poet who used his name and influence to speak up for those on the margins of society.

Few surnames resonate in American history more than Beecher. The family’s abolitionist ministers, educators, and writers are central figures in the historical narrative of the United States. The Beechers’ influence was greatest in the nineteenth century, but the family story continued—albeit with less public attention—with a descendant who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, during the early twentieth century.
John Beecher (1904–1980) never had the public prominence of his famous ancestors, but as a poet, professor, sociologist, New Deal administrator, journalist, and civil rights activist, he spent his life fighting for the voiceless and oppressed with a distinct moral sensibility that reflected his self-identification as the twentieth-century torchbearer for his famous family. While John Beecher had many vocations in his lifetime, he always considered himself a poet and a teacher. Some critics have compared the populist elements of Beecher’s poetry to the work of Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, but his writing never gained a broad audience or critical acclaim during his lifetime.
In Here I Stand: The Life and Legacy of John Beecher, Angela J. Smith examines Beecher’s writing and activism and places them in the broader context of American culture at pivotal points in the twentieth century. Employing his extensive letters, articles, unpublished poetry and prose, and audio interviews in addition to his numerous published books, Smith uncovers a record of public concerns in American history ranging from the plight of workers in 1920s steel mills to sharecroppers’ struggles during the Depression to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

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A Memoir of Life in the Counterculture
Roberta M. Price
University of Massachusetts Press, 2006
In the late 1960s, new age communes began springing up in the American Southwest with names like Drop City, New Buffalo, Lama Foundation, Morning Star, Reality Construction Company, and the Hog Farm. In the summer of 1969, Roberta Price, a recent college graduate, secured a grant to visit these communities and photograph them. When she and her lover David arrived at Libre in the Huerfano Valley of southern Colorado, they were so taken with what they found that they wanted to participate instead of observe. The following spring they married, dropped out of graduate school in upstate New York, packed their belongings into a 1947 Chrysler Windsor Coupe, and moved to Libre, leaving family and academia behind.

Huerfano is Price's captivating memoir of the seven years she spent in the Huerfano ("Orphan") Valley when it was a petrie dish of countercultural experiments. She and David joined with fellow baby boomers in learning to mix cement, strip logs, weave rugs, tan leather, grow marijuana, build houses, fix cars, give birth, and make cheese, beer, and furniture as well as poetry, art, music, and love. They built a house around a boulder high on a ridge overlooking the valley and made ends meet by growing their own food, selling homemade goods, and hiring themselves out as day laborers. Over time their collective ranks swelled to more than three hundred, only to diminish again as, for many participants, the dream of a life of unbridled possibility gradually yielded to the hard realities of a life of voluntary poverty.

Price tells her story with a clear, distinctive voice, documenting her experiences with photos as well as words. Placing her story in the larger context of the times, she describes her participation in the antiwar movement, the advent of the women's movement, and her encounters with such icons as Ken Kesey, Gary Snyder, Abbie Hoffman, Stewart Brand, Allen Ginsburg, and Baba Ram Dass.

At once comic, poignant, and above all honest, Huerfano recaptures the sense of affirmation and experimentation that fueled the counterculture without lapsing into nostalgic sentimentality on the one hand or cynicism on the other.

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I Never Left Home
Poet, Feminist, Revolutionary
Margaret Randall
Duke University Press, 2020
In 1969, poet and revolutionary Margaret Randall was forced underground when the Mexican government cracked down on all those who took part in the 1968 student movement. Needing to leave the country, she sent her four young children alone to Cuba while she scrambled to find safe passage out of Mexico. In I Never Left Home, Randall recounts her harrowing escape and the other extraordinary stories from her life and career.
From living among New York's abstract expressionists in the mid-1950s as a young woman to working in the Nicaraguan Ministry of Culture to instill revolutionary values in the media during the Sandinista movement, the story of Randall's life reads like a Hollywood production. Along the way, she edited a bilingual literary journal in Mexico City, befriended Cuban revolutionaries, raised a family, came out as a lesbian, taught college, and wrote over 150 books. Throughout it all, Randall never wavered from her devotion to social justice.
When she returned to the United States in 1984 after living in Latin America for twenty-three years, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service ordered her to be deported for her “subversive writing.” Over the next five years, and with the support of writers, entertainers, and ordinary people across the country, Randall fought to regain her citizenship, which she won in court in 1989.
As much as I Never Left Home is Randall's story, it is also the story of the communities of artists, writers, and radicals she belonged to. Randall brings to life scores of creative and courageous people on the front lines of creating a more just world. She also weaves political and social analyses and poetry into the narrative of her life. Moving, captivating, and astonishing, I Never Left Home is a remarkable story of a remarkable woman.

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I Write What I Like
Selected Writings
Steve Biko
University of Chicago Press, 2002
"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Like all of Steve Biko's writings, those words testify to the passion, courage, and keen insight that made him one of the most powerful figures in South Africa's struggle against apartheid. They also reflect his conviction that black people in South Africa could not be liberated until they united to break their chains of servitude, a key tenet of the Black Consciousness movement that he helped found.

I Write What I Like contains a selection of Biko's writings from 1969, when he became the president of the South African Students' Organization, to 1972, when he was prohibited from publishing. The collection also includes a preface by Archbishop Desmond Tutu; an introduction by Malusi and Thoko Mpumlwana, who were both involved with Biko in the Black Consciousness movement; a memoir of Biko by Father Aelred Stubbs, his longtime pastor and friend; and a new foreword by Professor Lewis Gordon.

Biko's writings will inspire and educate anyone concerned with issues of racism, postcolonialism, and black nationalism.


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Jane Addams
The Most Dangerous Woman in America
Marlene Targ Brill
Ohio University Press, 2024
As part of our Biographies for Young Readers series for middle-grade readers, this book explains who Jane Addams was and why she caused such a stir in the United States and worldwide. The story follows Addams from her first realization of the unfairness that limited the lives, livelihoods, and health of disadvantaged people in the late 1800s to her becoming one of the most beloved—and most disliked—women of her day. She worked to create a more peaceful, fair world for all people, no matter their race, color, nationality, or gender. Along her journey, Addams cofounded Hull-House, the most celebrated settlement house in the United States, and she became a motivating author, speaker, and women’s rights and peace advocate. She worked tirelessly on community, state, and national levels to promote women’s, workers’, and children’s rights, and she spoke passionately against the evils of war. Addams devoted her activities and writings to championing programs for these and other humanitarian causes. Votes for women! Equal rights for African Americans! Good schools and a healthy environment for children! No one—not millionaires, presidents, or the FBI—could stand in the way of her quest for justice. Addams became one of few women worldwide to earn a Nobel Peace Prize. Her efforts to improve social services and communities and to train leaders to carry out this work led to the opening of the first professional school of social work—named in her honor—at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her writing, teaching, and actions were based on the belief that “without the advance and improvement of the whole, no man can hope for any lasting improvement in his own moral or material individual condition.”

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John L. Lewis
A Biography
Melvyn Dubofsky and Warren Van Tine
University of Illinois Press, 1986
John L. Lewis (1880-1969), who ruled the United Mine Workers for four decades beginning in 1919, defied presidents, challenged Congress, and kept American political life in an uproar. Drawing upon previously untapped resources in the UMW archives and upon oral histories by major figures of the 1930s and 1940s, the authors have created a remarkable portrait of this 'self-made man' and his times.

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Josie Mpama/Palmer
Get Up and Get Moving
Robert R. Edgar
Ohio University Press, 2020

While African National Congress narratives dominate much of the scholarship on South Africa’s freedom struggle, Josie Mpama/Palmer’s political life offers a different perspective. Highly critical of the patriarchal attitudes that hindered black women from actively participating in politics, Mpama/Palmer was an outspoken advocate for women’s social equality and encouraged black women to become more involved in national conversations. The first black woman to join the Communist Party of South Africa and an antiapartheid activist, Josie Mpama/Palmer remained involved in critical issues all her life, especially protests against Bantu Education and other forms of racial and sexist discrimination. She was an integral figure in establishing the Federation of South African Women, an organization open to women of all races. Mpama/Palmer’s activism and political legacy would become an inspiring example for women in South Africa and around the world to get up and get moving.


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Just and Righteous Causes
Rabbi Ira Sanders and the Fight for Racial and Social Justice in Arkansas, 1926-1963
James L. Moses
University of Arkansas Press, 2018

Winner, 2019 Booker Worthen Prize from the Central Arkansas Library System.

A dedicated advocate for social justice long before the term entered everyday usage, Rabbi Ira Sanders began striving against the Jim Crow system soon after he arrived in Little Rock from New York in 1926. Sanders, who led Little Rock’s Temple B’nai Israel for nearly forty years, was a trained social worker as well as a rabbi and his career as a dynamic religious and community leader in Little Rock spanned the traumas of the Great Depression, World War II and the Holocaust, and the social and racial struggles of the 1950s and 1960s.

Just and Righteous Causes—a full biographical study of this bold social-activist rabbi—examines how Sanders expertly navigated the intersections of race, religion, and gender to advocate for a more just society. It joins a growing body of literature about the lives and histories of Southern rabbis, deftly balancing scholarly and narrative tones to provide a personal look into the complicated position of the Southern rabbi and the Jewish community throughout the political struggles of the twentieth-century South.


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Keep On Fighting
The Life and Civil Rights Legacy of Marian A. Spencer
Dorothy H. Christenson
Ohio University Press, 2015

Marian Alexander Spencer was born in 1920 in the Ohio River town of Gallipolis, Ohio, one year after the “Red Summer” of 1919 that saw an upsurge in race riots and lynchings. Following the example of her grandfather, an ex-slave and community leader, Marian joined the NAACP at thirteen and grew up to achieve not only a number of civic leadership firsts in her adopted home city of Cincinnati, but a legacy of lasting civil rights victories.

Of these, the best known is the desegregation of Cincinnati’s Coney Island amusement park. She also fought to desegregate Cincinnati schools and to stop the introduction of observers in black voting precincts in Ohio. Her campaign to raise awareness of industrial toxic-waste practices in minority neighborhoods was later adapted into national Superfund legislation.

In 2012, Marian’s friend and colleague Dot Christenson sat down with her to record her memories. The resulting biography not only gives us the life story of remarkable leader but encapsulates many of the twentieth century’s greatest struggles and advances. Spencer’s story will prove inspirational and instructive to citizens and students alike.


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Ken Saro-Wiwa
Roy Doron
Ohio University Press, 2016

Hanged by the Nigerian government on November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa became a martyr for the Ogoni people and human rights activists, and a symbol of modern Africans’ struggle against military dictatorship, corporate power, and environmental exploitation. Though he is rightly known for his human rights and environmental activism, he wore many hats: writer, television producer, businessman, and civil servant, among others. While the book sheds light on his many legacies, it is above all about Saro-Wiwa the man, not just Saro-Wiwa the symbol.

Roy Doron and Toyin Falola portray a man who not only was formed by the complex forces of ethnicity, race, class, and politics in Nigeria, but who drove change in those same processes. Like others in the Ohio Short Histories of Africa series, Ken Saro-Wiwa is written to be accessible to the casual reader and student, yet indispensable to scholars.


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Laura Méndez de Cuenca
Mexican Feminist, 1853–1928
Mílada Bazant; Foreword by Mary Kay Vaughan
University of Arizona Press, 2018
Laura Méndez de Cuenca—poet, teacher, editor, writer, and feminist—dared to bypass the cultural traditions of her time.

In the early 1870s, when conservative religious thought permeated all aspects of Mexican life, she was one of very few women to gain admission to an extraordinary constellation of male poets, playwrights, and novelists, who were also the publicists and statesmen of the time. She entered this world through her poetry, intellect, curiosity, assertiveness, but her personal life was fraught with tragedy: she had a child out of wedlock by poet Manuel Acuña, who killed himself shortly thereafter. She later married another poet, Agustín Fidencio Cuenca, and had seven other children. All but two of her children died, as did Agustín.

As a penniless young widow facing social rejection, Laura became a teacher and an important force in Mexico’s burgeoning educational reform program. She moved abroad—first to San Francisco, then St. Louis, then Berlin. In these places where she was not known and women had begun to move confidently in the public sphere, she could walk freely, observe, mingle, make friends across many circles, learn, think, and express her opinions. She wrote primarily for a Mexican public and always returned to Mexico because it was her country’s future that she strove to create.

Now, for the first time in English, Mílada Bazant shares with us the trajectory of a leading Mexican thinker who applied the power of the pen to human feeling, suffering, striving, and achievement.

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Learning from Birmingham
A Journey into History and Home
Julie Buckner Armstrong
University of Alabama Press, 2023
A steel town daughter’s search for truth and beauty in Birmingham, Alabama
“As Birmingham goes, so goes the nation,” Fred Shuttlesworth observed when he invited Martin Luther King Jr. to the city for the transformative protests of 1963. From the height of the Civil Rights Movement through its long aftermath, images of police dogs, fire hoses and four girls murdered when Ku Klux Klan members bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church have served as an uncomfortable racial mirror for the nation. Like many white people who came of age in the Civil Rights Movement’s wake, Julie Buckner Armstrong knew little about this history. Only after moving away and discovering writers like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker did she realize how her hometown and family were part of a larger, ongoing story of struggle and injustice.

When Armstrong returned to Birmingham decades later to care for her aging mother, Shuttlesworth’s admonition rang in her mind. By then an accomplished scholar and civil rights educator, Armstrong found herself pondering the lessons Birmingham holds for a twenty-first century America. Those lessons extended far beyond what a 2014 Teaching Tolerance report describes as the common distillation of the Civil Rights Movement into “two names and four words: Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and ‘I have a dream.’” Seeking to better understand a more complex local history, its connection to broader stories of oppression and resistance, and her own place in relation to it, Armstrong embarked on a journey to unravel the standard Birmingham narrative to see what she would find.

Beginning at the center, with her family’s 1947 arrival to a housing project near the color line, within earshot of what would become known as Dynamite Hill, Armstrong works her way over time and across the map. Weaving in stories of her white working-class family, classmates, and others not traditionally associated with Birmingham’s civil rights history, including members of the city’s LGBTQ community, she forges connections between the familiar and lesser-known. The result is a nuanced portrait of Birmingham--as seen in public housing, at old plantations, in segregated neighborhoods, across contested boundary lines, over mountains, along increasingly polluted waterways, beneath airport runways, on highways cutting through town, and under the gaze of the iconic statue of Vulcan.

In her search for truth and beauty in Birmingham, Armstrong draws on the powers of place and storytelling to dig into the cracks, complicating easy narratives of civil rights progress. Among the discoveries she finds in America’s racial mirror is a nation that has failed to recognize itself in the horrific images from Birmingham’s past and to acknowledge the continuing inequalities that make up the Civil Right’s Movement’s unfinished business. Learning from Birmingham reminds us that stories of civil rights, structural oppression, privilege, abuse, race and gender bias, and inequity are difficult and complicated, but their telling, especially from multiple stakeholder perspectives, is absolutely necessary.

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Lending Power
How Self-Help Credit Union Turned Small-Time Loans into Big-Time Change
Howard E. Covington Jr.
Duke University Press, 2017
Established by Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright in North Carolina in 1980, the nonprofit Center for Community Self-Help has grown from an innovative financial institution dedicated to civil rights into the nation's largest home lender to low- and moderate-income borrowers. Self-Help's first capital campaign—a bake sale that raised a meager seventy-seven dollars for a credit union—may not have done much to fulfill the organization's early goals of promoting worker-owned businesses, but it was a crucial first step toward wielding inclusive lending as a weapon for economic justice.
In Lending Power journalist and historian Howard E. Covington Jr. narrates the compelling story of Self-Help's founders and coworkers as they built a progressive and community-oriented financial institution. First established to assist workers displaced by closed furniture and textile mills, Self-Help created a credit union that expanded into providing home loans for those on the margins of the financial market, especially people of color and single mothers.
Using its own lending record, Self-Help convinced commercial banks to follow suit, extending its influence well beyond North Carolina. In 1999 its efforts led to the first state law against predatory lending. A decade later, as the Great Recession ravaged the nation's economy, its legislative victories helped influence the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Self-Help also created a federally chartered credit union to expand to California and later to Illinois and Florida, where it assisted ailing community-based credit unions and financial institutions. 
Throughout its history, Self-Help has never wavered from its mission to use Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of justice to extend economic opportunity to the nation's unbanked and underserved citizens. With nearly two billion dollars in assets, Self-Help also shows that such a model for nonprofits can be financially successful while serving the greater good. At a time when calls for economic justice are growing ever louder, Lending Power shows how hard-working and dedicated people can help improve their communities.

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The Radical Art and Life of Claude Cahun
Kaz Rowe
J. Paul Getty Trust, The, 2023
Courageous Surrealist artist Claude Cahun championed freedom at every turn, from rejecting gender norms and finding queer love to risking death to sabotage the Nazis.

At the turn of the twentieth century in Nantes, France, Lucy Schwob met Suzanne Malherbe, and lightning struck. The two became partners both artistically and romantically and transformed themselves into the creative personas Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. Together, the couple embarked on a radical journey of Surrealist collaboration that would take them from conservative provincial France to the vibrancy of 1920s Paris to the oppression of Nazi-occupied Jersey during World War II, where they used art to undermine the Nazi regime.

Cahun and Moore challenged gender roles and championed freedom at a time when strict societal norms meant that the truth of their relationship had to remain secret. Featuring ten photographs by Cahun and Moore, this graphic biography by cartoonist Kaz Rowe brings Cahun’s inspiring story to life.

Ages thirteen to eighteen

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The Long Shadow of Little Rock
A Memoir
Daisy Bates
University of Arkansas Press, 2007
At an event honoring Daisy Bates as 1990’s Distinguished Citizen then-governor Bill Clinton called her "the most distinguished Arkansas citizen of all time." Her classic account of the 1957 Little Rock School Crisis, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, couldn't be found on most bookstore shelves in 1962 and was banned throughout the South. In 1988, after the University of Arkansas Press reprinted it, it won an American Book Award. On September 3, 1957, Gov. Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to surround all-white Central High School and prevent the entry of nine black students, challenging the Supreme Court's 1954 order to integrate all public schools. On September 25, Daisy Bates, an official of the NAACP in Arkansas, led the nine children into the school with the help of federal troops sent by President Eisenhower–the first time in eighty-one years that a president had dispatched troops to the South to protect the constitutional rights of black Americans. This new edition of Bates's own story about these historic events is being issued to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Little Rock School crisis in 2007.

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Malcolm Before X
Patrick Parr
University of Massachusetts Press, 2024

In February 1946, when 21-year-old Malcolm Little was sentenced to eight to ten years in a maximum-security prison, he was a petty criminal and street hustler in Boston. By the time he was paroled in August 1952, he had transformed into a voracious reader, joined the Black Muslims, and was poised to become Malcolm X, one of the most prominent and important intellectuals of the civil rights era. While scholars and commentators have exhaustively detailed, analyzed, and debated Malcolm X’s post-prison life, they have not explored these six and a half transformative years in any depth.

Paying particular attention to his time in prison, Patrick Parr’s Malcolm Before X provides a comprehensive and groundbreaking examination of the first twenty-seven years of Malcolm X’s life (1925–1965). Parr traces Malcolm’s African lineage, explores his complicated childhood in the Midwest, and follows him as he moves east to live with his sister Ella in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, where he is convicted of burglary and sentenced.

Parr utilizes a trove of previously overlooked documents that include prison files and prison newspapers to immerse the reader into the unique cultures—at times brutal and at times instructional—of Charlestown State Prison, the Concord Reformatory, and the Norfolk Prison Colony. It was at these institutions that Malcolm devoured books, composed poetry, boxed, debated, and joined the Nation of Islam, changing the course of his life and setting the stage for a decade of antiracist activism that would fundamentally reshape American culture.

In this meticulously researched and beautifully written biography, the inspiring story of how Malcolm Little became Malcolm X is finally told. 


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Margaret Murray Washington
The Life and Times of a Career Clubwoman
Sheena Harris
University of Tennessee Press, 2021

Born enslaved in 1861, by 1892 Margaret Murray Washington of Macon, Mississippi, married the twice-widowed race leader Booker T. Washington and joined the ranks of the rising black middle class. While one cannot discount the accomplishments of her storied husband, Washington’s own successes warrant further exploration. In this first biography of Margaret Murray Washington, author Sheena Harris discusses Washington’s importance as an active clubwoman, educational reformer, and integral partner to her husband and his success with the Tuskegee Institute.

Individual black, female leadership continues to be a blind spot in much scholarly historical literature. Washington was an important educator and clubwoman whose influence emanated from her own planning and actions. As Lady Principal, Washington was sincere and earnest in her campaign to improve Tuskegee Institute. She also transformed her community through her local club organizations. In addition, Washington cofounded the National Federation of Afro-American Women (1895) and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) (1896). Harris illustrates how Washington improved race relations as a whole through local and national organizations such as the Tuskegee Woman’s Club, the NACW, and 1922 creation of the International Council of Women of the Darker Races (ICWDR). Harris explains clearly that Washington took her leadership positions seriously and strategically worked to expand opportunities for blacks through such organizations.

Washington’s life provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the Black Women’s Club Movement and illuminates the experiences of a race woman who came of age during the Jim Crow South. Harris’s biography is a convincing portrait of an under-studied black woman in the early civil rights movement and places Washington within the pantheon of other important women of the era.


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Not the Camilla We Knew
One Woman's Life from Small-town America to the Symbionese Liberation Army
Rachael Hanel
University of Minnesota Press, 2022

The mystery of how an ordinary Minnesota girl came to be, briefly, one of the most wanted domestic terrorists in the United States

Behind every act of domestic terrorism there is someone’s child, an average American whose life took a radical turn for reasons that often remain mysterious. Camilla Hall is a case in point: a pastor’s daughter from small-town Minnesota who eventually joined the ranks of radicals like Sara Jane Olson (aka Kathleen Soliah) in the notorious Symbionese Liberation Army before dying in a shootout with Los Angeles Police in May 1974. How could a “good girl” like Camilla become one of the most wanted domestic terrorists in the United States? Rachael Hanel tells her story here, revealing both the deep humanity and the extraordinary circumstances of Camilla Hall’s life.

Camilla’s childhood in a tight-knit religious family was marred by loss and grief as, one after another, her three siblings died. Her path from her Minnesota home to her final, radical SLA family featured years as an artist and activist—in welfare offices, political campaigns, union organizing, culminating in a love affair that would be her introduction to the SLA. Through in-depth research and extensive interviews, Hanel pieces together Camilla’s bewildering transformation from a “gentle, zaftig, arty, otherworldy” young woman (as one observer remarked), working for social change within the system, into a gun-wielding criminal involved in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst.

During this time of mounting unrest and violence, Camilla Hall’s story is of urgent interest for what it reveals about the forces of radicalization. But as Hanel ventures ever further into Camilla’s past, searching out the critical points where character and cause might intersect, her book becomes an intriguing, disturbing, and ultimately deeply moving journey into the dark side of America’s promise.


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The Pantarch
A Biography of Stephen Pearl Andrews
By Madeleine B. Stern
University of Texas Press, 1968

An abolitionist and a champion of free love and women’s rights would seem decidedly out of place in nineteenth-century Texas, but such a man was Stephen Pearl Andrews (1812–1886), American reformer, civil rights proponent, pioneer in sociology, advocate of reformed spelling, lawyer, and eccentric philosopher. Since his life mirrored and often anticipated the various reform movements spawned not only in Texas but in the United States in the nineteenth century, this first biography of him sharply reflects and elucidates his times.

The extremely important role Andrews played in the abolition movement in this country has not heretofore been accorded him. After having witnessed slavery in Louisiana during the 1830s, Andrews came to Texas and began his career as an abolitionist with an audacious attempt to free the slaves there.

His singular career, however, comprised many more activities than abolitionism, and most have long been forgotten by historians. He introduced Pitman shorthand into the United States as a means of teaching the uneducated to read; his role in the community of Modern Times, Long Island, was as important as that of Josiah Warren, the “first American anarchist,” although Andrews’s participation in this communal venture, along with the significance of Modern Times itself, has been underestimated.

Other causes which Andrews supported included free love and the rights of women, dramatized by his journalistic debate with Horace Greeley and Henry James, Sr., and by his endorsement of Victoria Woodhull as the first woman candidate for the Presidency of the United States. These interests, together with his consequent involvement in the Beecher-Tilton Scandal, provide insight into some of the more colorful aspects of nineteenth-century American reform movements.

Andrews’s attacks upon whatever infringed on individual freedom brought him into diverse arenas—economic, sociological, and philosophical. The philosophical system he developed included among its tenets the sovereignty of the individual, a science of society, a universal language (his Alwato long preceded Esperanto), the unity of the sciences, and a “Pantarchal United States of the World.” His philosophy has never before been epitomized nor have its applications to later thought been considered.

“I have made it the business of my life to study social laws,” Andrews wrote. “I see now a new age beginning to appear.” This biography of the dynamic reformer examines those social laws and that still-unembodied new age. It reanimates a heretofore neglected American reformer and casts new light upon previously unexplored bypaths of nineteenth-century American social history. The biography is fully documented, based in part upon a corpus of unpublished material in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.


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Paul Robeson
The Artist as Revolutionary
Gerald Horne
Pluto Press, 2015
***Winner PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award***

“A fine, taut analysis of the great African American athlete, singer, actor, and political activist.”
Choice, Highly Recommended
Paul Robeson should be remembered today as the forerunner of Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Muhammad Ali. He sacrificed his fame and fortune a performer and athlete in order to fight for the rights of African Americans during the time of Jim Crow and U.S. Apartheid.
A world-famous singer and actor, a trained lawyer, an early star of American professional football and a polyglot who spoke over a dozen languages: these could be the crowning achievements of a life well-lived. Yet for Paul Robeson the higher calling of social justice led him to abandon both the NFL and Hollywood and become one of the most important political activists of his generation, a crusader for freedom and equality who battled both Jim Crow and US Senator Joseph McCarthy during the communist witch hunt of the 1950s.    
In Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary, Gerald Horne discovers within Robeson's remarkable and revolutionary life the story of the twentieth century's great political struggles: against racism, against colonialism, against poverty—and for international socialism. Chapters include:
*”The Best Known American in the World"
*Rising Revolutionary
*From Moscow to Madrid
*"Black Stalin"?
*Robeson: Primary Victim of the "Blacklist"
*Triumph—and Tragedy
*Death of a Revolutionary      
In the Introduction, Horne writes: “Paul Robeson—activist, artist, athlete—experienced a dramatic rise and fall, perhaps unparalleled in U.S. history. From mingling with the elite of London society and Hollywood in the 1930s, by the time he died in 1976, he was a virtual recluse in a plain abode in a working-class neighborhood of Philadelphia. What helps to explicate this tragic art of his life is a fateful decision he made when fascism was rising: he threw in his lot with those battling for socialism and decide to sacrifice his thriving artistic career on behalf of the struggle against Jim Crow—or U.S. apartheid.”
This critical and searching biography provides an opportunity for readers to comprehend the triumphs and tragedies of the revolutionary progressive movement of which Paul Robeson was not just a part, but perhaps its most resonant symbol.

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Pieter Geyl and Britain
Encounters, Controversies, Impact
Edited by Stijn van Rossem and Ulrich Tiedau
University of London Press, 2022
An examination of the work and influence of historian Pieter Geyl.
Pieter Geyl (1887—1966) was undoubtedly one of the most internationally renowned Dutch historians of the twentieth century, but also one of the most controversial. Having come to the United Kingdom as a journalist, he started his academic career at the University of London in the aftermath of World War I and played an important role in the early days of the Institute of Historical Research. Known in this time for his reinterpretation of the sixteenth-century Dutch Revolt against the Habsburgs that challenged existing historiographies of both Belgium and the Netherlands but was also linked to his political activism in favor of the Flemish movement in Belgium, Geyl left his stamp on the British perception of Low Countries history before moving back to his country of origin in 1935. Having spent World War II in German hostage camps, he famously coined the adage of history being “a discussion without end” and reengaged in public debates with British historians after the war, partly conducted on the airwaves of the BBC. A prolific writer and an early example of a public intellectual, Geyl remains one of the most influential thinkers on history of his time. The present volume reexamines Geyl’s relationship with Britain (and the Anglophone world at large) and sheds new light on his multifaceted work as a historian, journalist, homme de lettres, and political activist.

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The Road South
Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders
B. J. Hollars
University of Alabama Press, 2018
Revisits the inspiring and heroic stories of the Freedom Riders, through their own words.
In May 1961, despite multiple Supreme Court rulings, segregation remained alive and well within the system of interstate travel. All across the American South, interstate buses as well as their travel facilities were divided racially. This blatant disregard for law and morality spurred the Congress of Racial Equality to send thirteen individuals—seven black, six white—on a harrowing bus trip throughout the South as a sign of protest.
These original riders were met with disapproval, arrests and violence along the way, but that did not stop the movement. That summer, more than four hundred Freedom Riders continued their journey—many of them concluding their ride at Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm, where they endured further abuses and indignities. As a result of the riders sacrifice, by November of 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission finally put an end to interstate commerce segregation, and in the process, elevated the riders to become a source of inspiration for other civil rights campaigns such as voter registration rights and school desegregation.
While much has been written on the Freedom Rides, far less has been published about the individual riders. Join award-winning author B. J. Hollars as he sets out on his own journey to meet them, retracing the historic route and learning the stories of as many surviving riders as he could. The Road South: Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders offers an intimate look into the lives and legacies of the riders. Throughout the book these civil rights veterans’ poignant, personal stories offer timely insights into America’s racial past and hopeful future.
Weaving the past with the present, Hollars aims to demystify the legendary journey, while also confronting more modern concerns related to race in America. The Road South is part memoir and part research-based journalism. It transcends the traditional textbook version of this historical journey to highlight the fascinating stories of the many riders—both black and white—who risked their lives to move the country forward.

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The Road to Blair Mountain
Saving a Mine Wars Battlefield from King Coal
Charles B. Keeney
West Virginia University Press, 2021
“Keeney delivers a riveting and propulsive story about a nine-year battle to save sacred ground that was the site of the largest labor uprising in American history. . . . He unveils a powerful playbook on successful activism that will inspire countless others for generations to come.” —Eric Eyre, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic

In 1921 Blair Mountain in southern West Virginia was the site of the country’s bloodiest armed insurrection since the Civil War, a battle pitting miners led by Frank Keeney against agents of the coal barons intent on quashing organized labor. It was the largest labor uprising in US history. Ninety years later, the site became embroiled in a second struggle, as activists came together to fight the coal industry, state government, and the military- industrial complex in a successful effort to save the battlefield—sometimes dubbed “labor’s Gettysburg”—from destruction by mountaintop removal mining.

The Road to Blair Mountain is the moving and sometimes harrowing story of Charles Keeney’s fight to save this irreplaceable landscape. Beginning in 2011, Keeney—a historian and great-grandson of Frank Keeney—led a nine-year legal battle to secure the site’s placement on the National Register of Historic Places. His book tells a David-and-Goliath tale worthy of its own place in West Virginia history. A success story for historic preservation and environmentalism, it serves as an example of how rural, grassroots organizations can defeat the fossil fuel industry.

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Sacred Ground
The Chicago Streets of Timuel Black
Timuel D. Black Jr., as told to Susan Klonsky, edited by Bart Schultz
Northwestern University Press, 2019
Timuel Black is an acclaimed historian, activist, and storyteller. Sacred Ground: The Chicago Streets of Timuel Black chronicles the life and times of this Chicago legend.

Sacred Ground opens in 1919, during the summer of the Chicago race riot, when infant Black and his family arrive in Chicago from Birmingham, Alabama, as part of the first Great Migration. He recounts in vivid detail his childhood and education in the Black Metropolis of Bronzeville and South Side neighborhoods that make up his "sacred ground."

Revealing a priceless trove of experiences, memories, ideas, and opinions, Black describes how it felt to belong to this place, even when stationed in Europe during World War II. He relates how African American soldiers experienced challenges and conflicts during the war, illuminating how these struggles foreshadowed the civil rights movement. A labor organizer, educator, and activist, Black captures fascinating anecdotes and vignettes of meeting with famous figures of the times, such as Duke Ellington and Martin Luther King Jr., but also with unheralded people whose lives convey lessons about striving, uplift, and personal integrity.

Rounding out this memoir, Black reflects on the legacy of his friend and mentee, Barack Obama, as well as on his public works and enduring relationships with students, community workers, and some very influential figures in Chicago and the world.

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Prison Memoir of a Kurdish Revolutionary
Sakine Cansiz
Pluto Press, 2019
The second instalment in a gripping memoir by Sakine Cansiz (codenamed 'Sara') chronicles the Kurdish revolutionary's harrowing years in a Turkish prison, following her arrest in 1979 at the age of 21. Jailed for more than a decade for her activities as a founder and leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, she faced brutal conditions and was subjected to interrogation and torture. Remarkably, the story she tells here is foremost one of resistance, with courageous episodes of collective struggle behind bars including hunger strikes and attempts at escape. Along the way she also presents vivid portraits of her fellow prisoners and militants, a snapshot of the Turkish left in the 1980s, a scathing indictment of Turkey's war on Kurdish people - and even an unlikely love story. The first prison memoir by a Kurdish woman to be published in English, this is an extraordinary document of an extraordinary life. Translated by Janet Biehl.

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Seeking the One Great Remedy
Francis George Shaw and Nineteenth-Century Reform
Lorien Foote
Ohio University Press, 2003

A radical abolitionist and early feminist, Francis George Shaw (1809–1882) was a prominent figure in American reform and intellectual circles for five decades. He rejected capitalism in favor of a popular utopian socialist movement; during the Civil War and Reconstruction, he applied his radical principles to the Northern war effort and to freedmen’s organizations.

A partnership with Henry George in the late 1870s provided an international audience for Shaw’s alternative vision of society. Seeking the One Great Remedy is the biography of this remarkable and influential man. In compelling detail, author Lorien Foote depicts the many aspects and exploits of the Shaw family. Their activities provide a perspective on the course of American reform that calls into question previous interpretations of the reform movement of this period.

Francis George Shaw is perhaps best known as the father of Robert Gould Shaw, subject of the movie Glory. Francis and his wife, Sarah Blake Shaw, achieved considerable notoriety for their activities, including their effort to shape public opinion during the Civil War. Turning the tragic death of their son into a public relations and propaganda triumph, they altered Northern opinion about the war and shaped a historical perception of the famous Massachusetts Fifty-fourth that continues today.

Seeking the One Great Remedy argues that social radicalism was pervasive among elite reformers before and after the Civil War and finds in the dramatic story of Francis George Shaw a model of that cause.


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Somos Latinas
Voices of Wisconsin Latina Activists
Andrea-Teresa Arenas
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2018
Twenty-five Latina agents of change share their inspirational stories.

Celebrated Latina civil rights activist Dolores Huerta once said, “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” These are the stories of some of the Latina activists from Wisconsin who have lived Huerta’s words. Somos Latinas shares the powerful narratives of 25 activists—from outspoken demonstrators to collaborative community-builders to determined individuals working for change behind the scenes—providing proof of the long-standing legacy of Latina activism throughout Wisconsin. 

Somos Latinas draws on activist interviews conducted as part of the Somos Latinas Digital History Project, housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society, and looks deep into the life and passion of each woman. Though Latinas have a rich history of community activism in the state and throughout the country, their stories often go uncelebrated. Somos Latinas is essential reading for scholars, historians, activists, and anyone curious about how everyday citizens can effect change in their communities.  

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Sonia Johnson
A Mormon Feminist
Christine Talbot
University of Illinois Press, 2024

Few figures in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provoke such visceral responses as Sonia Johnson. Her unrelenting public support of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) made her the face of LDS feminism while her subsequent excommunication roiled the faith community.

Christine Talbot tells the story of Sonia’s historic confrontation with the Church within the context of the faith’s first large-scale engagement with the feminist movement. A typical if well-educated Latter-day Saints homemaker, Sonia was moved to action by the all-male LDS leadership’s opposition to the ERA and a belief the Church should stay out of politics. Talbot uses the activist’s experiences and criticisms to explore the ways Sonia’s ideas and situation sparked critical questions about LDS thought, culture, and belief. She also illuminates how Sonia’s excommunication shaped LDS feminism, the Church’s antagonism to feminist critiques, and the Church itself in the years to come.

A revealing and long-overdue account, Sonia Johnson explores the life, work, and impact of the LDS feminist.


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Sophonisba Breckinridge
Championing Women's Activism in Modern America
Anya Jabour
University of Illinois Press, 2019
Sophonisba Breckinridge's remarkable career stretched from the Civil War to the Cold War. She took part in virtually every reform campaign of the Progressive and New Deal eras and became a nationally and internationally renowned figure. Her work informed women’s activism for decades and continues to shape progressive politics today. Anya Jabour's biography rediscovers this groundbreaking American figure. After earning advanced degrees in politics, economics, and law, Breckinridge established the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, which became a feminist think tank that promoted public welfare policy and propelled women into leadership positions. In 1935, Breckinridge’s unremitting efforts to provide government aid to the dispossessed culminated in her appointment as an advisor on programs for the new Social Security Act. A longtime activist in international movements for peace and justice, Breckinridge also influenced the formation of the United Nations and advanced the idea that "women’s rights are human rights." Her lifelong commitment to social justice created a lasting legacy for generations of progressive activists.

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Steve Biko
Lindy Wilson
Ohio University Press, 2011

Steve Biko inspired a generation of black South Africans to claim their true identity and refuse to be a part of their own oppression. Through his example, he demonstrated fearlessness and self-esteem, and he led a black student movement countrywide that challenged and thwarted the culture of fear perpetuated by the apartheid regime. He paid the highest price with his life. The brutal circumstances of his death shocked the world and helped isolate his oppressors.

This short biography of Biko shows how fundamental he was to the reawakening and transformation of South Africa in the second half of the twentieth century—and just how relevant he remains. Biko’s understanding of black consciousness as a weapon of change could not be more relevant today to “restore people to their full humanity.”

As an important historical study, this book’s main sources were unique interviews done in 1989—before the end of apartheid—by the author with Biko’s acquaintances, many of whom have since died.


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Tell Mother I'm in Paradise
Memoirs of a Political Prisoner in El Salvador
Ana Margarita Gasteazoro, edited by Judy Blankenship and Andrew Wilson
University of Alabama Press, 2022
The life and times of Ana Margarita Gasteazoro: political activist, clandestine operative, and prisoner of conscience
Ana Margarita Gasteazoro (1950–1993) was a Salvadoran opposition activist and renowned Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. Tell Mother I’m in Paradise:Memoirs of a Political Prisoner in El Salvador recounts her extraordinary life story. From a privileged Catholic upbringing, with time spent studying and working abroad, Ana Margarita first became a member of the legal political opposition in the late 1970s and later a clandestine operative at work against the brutal military junta.

Gasteazoro recounts her early rebellion against the strictures of conservative upper-class Salvadoran society. She spoke perfect English and discovered a talent for organizing in administrative jobs abroad and at home. As the civil war progressed, she quickly became a valued figure in the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), a social democratic party, often representing it at international meetings. Against the backdrop of massive social oppression and the “disappearances” of thousands of opposition members, Gasteazoro began a double life as an operative in a faction of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). Multitalented and energetic, she organized safe houses for fellow activists, transported weapons and equipment, wrote scripts for an underground radio station, and produced an award-winning documentary film. But the toll on her family life and personal relationships was heavy.

Ana Margarita was disappeared in May 1981 by the infamous National Guard and endured a nightmare 11 days of interrogations, beatings, and abuse. Through international pressure and the connections of her family, her arrest was finally made public, and she was transferred to the women’s prison at Ilopango. There, she and other activists continued the political struggle through the Committee of Political Prisoners of El Salvador (COPPES). During her two years in prison, tested by hunger strikes, violence, and factional divisions, she became one of Amnesty International’s best-known prisoners of conscience. Tell Mother I’m in Paradise is a gripping story of a self-aware activist and a vital young woman’s struggle to find her own way within a deeply conservative society.

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The The Traveling Camera
Lewis Hine and the Fight to End Child Labor
Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs
J. Paul Getty Trust, The, 2021
This poetic and beautiful picture book chronicles the travels of Lewis Hine, who used his camera to document child labor in the early twentieth century.
Stunning visuals and poetic text combine to tell the inspiring story of Lewis Hine (1874–1940), a teacher and photographer who employed his art as a tool for social reform. Working for the National Child Labor Committee, Hine traveled the United States, taking pictures of children as young as five toiling under dangerous conditions in cotton mills, seafood canneries, farms, and coal mines. He often wore disguises to sneak into factories, impersonating a machinery inspector or traveling salesman. He said, “If I could tell this story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug a camera.” His poignant pictures attracted national attention and were instrumental in the passage of child labor laws. The Traveling Camera contains extensive back matter, including a time line, original photos, and a bibliography.
Ages six to nine.

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There When We Needed Him
Wiley Austin Branton, Civil Rights Warrior
Judith Kilpatrick
University of Arkansas Press, 2007
Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said of Wiley Austin Branton that he “devoted his entire life to fighting for his own people.” There When We Needed Him is the story of that fight, which began with Branton's being one of the first black students at the University of Arkansas Law School and which took him to the highest levels of business and government. From his private law practice in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Branton became, along with Marshall, counsel for the Little Rock Nine in their 1957 efforts to integrate Central High School. Under his leadership of the Atlanta-based Voter Education Project, more than six hundred thousand black voters were registered from 1962 to 1965. He later became executive secretary of President Lyndon Johnson's Council on Equal Opportunity and special assistant to attorneys general Nicholas Katzenbach and Ramsey Clark. He provided leadership to the United Planning Organization, the Alliance for Labor Action, and the NAACP; and he was dean of Howard University Law School. At Branton’s funeral in 1988, former Arkansas senator David Pryor described him as “quiet and unassuming. . . . It is his humility and desire to always put the goals of the civil rights movement before self which probably accounts for the fact that [he] was not more famous than he was.” The influence of this quiet and unassuming man continues to be felt decades later.

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This Is Not For You
An Activist's Journey of Resistance and Resilience
Richard Brown
Oregon State University Press, 2021
This Is Not For You tells the story of activist and photographer Richard Brown, a Black Portlander who has spent decades working to bridge the divide between police and the Black community. His memoir brings readers with him into the streets with fellow activists, into squad cars with the rank-and-file, and to regular meetings with mayors and police chiefs. There are very few people doing the kind of work Richard Brown has done. And that, as he sees it, is a big problem.

The book finds Brown approaching his eightieth birthday and reflecting on his life. As he recalls his childhood in 1940s Harlem, his radicalization in the newly desegregated Air Force, and his decades of activism in one of America’s whitest cities, he questions how much longer he’ll do this work, and he wonders who, if anyone, will take his place.

This is a book about how and why to become an engaged, activist citizen, and how activists can stay grounded, no matter how deeply they immerse themselves in the work. It also offers an intimate, firsthand look at policing: what policing is and could be, how civilians can have a say, and how police can and should be responsive to and inclusive of civilian voices. This Is Not For You speaks on every page about being Black in America: about Black pride; Black history, art, and culture; and the experience of resisting white supremacy. It also stands as a much-needed counternarrative to Portlandia, telling a different story about the city and who has shaped it.

Over fifty percent of royalties earned on this book will be donated to organizations working on behalf of Black Portlanders.

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Till the Dark Angel Comes
Abolitionism and the Road to the Second American Revolution
William S. King
Westholme Publishing, 2016
The Transformation of the Abolitionist Movement from Peaceful Demonstration to Radical Confrontation as Embodied in John Brown
Establishing himself as a fresh and important voice in the history of African American emancipation,William S. King provides a critical introduction to the lead-up to the Civil War. A skilled and judicious chronicler, King seamlessly weaves multiple and seemingly disparate threads, including early nineteenth-century Revivalism, the emergence of the Republic of Texas, the fugitive slave laws—and even the explosion of a cannon aboard the U.S.S. Princeton in 1844—to explain how the opposition to slavery in America changed from producing speeches and pamphlets to embracing the reality that slavery could be eradicated only through armed conflict. By tracing this transformation through the life of John Brown, King provides an entirely new assessment of this enigmatic figure who was characterized as a “mad man” in the wake of his butchering of proslavery settlers in Kansas and the inept raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. King puts these actions in context to explain the paradox of Brown’s legacy. On one hand he was vilified as an unstable threat to American democracy or a fanatical sideshow to the history of the Civil War, while on the other he was an inspiration to the oppressed, a man who garnered the indomitable Harriet Tubman’s commitment to the righteousness of his endeavor.
Elegantly written with a command of period sources, Till the Dark Angel Comes: Abolitionism and the Road to the Second American Revolution is the story of interracial opposition to slavery, the important debates among free blacks as to their future in America, and the arguments and compromises at the highest levels of government. Here we encounter many personalities of the time, some well known, such as Frederick Douglass,William Lloyd Garrison, and John C. Calhoun, and others less so, but no less important—Martin Delany, Henry Highland Garnet, and Elijah Lovejoy.

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Time and the Town
A Provincetown Chronicle
Adele Heller
Rutgers University Press, 1991
Time and the Town was the last of Mary Heaton Vorse's books. It is about many things —a town and its people, the author, a certain kind of idyllic life. As much as anything else, it is the biography of the house Vorse bought in 1907 and lived in, off and on, for the next thirty-six years. The moods of the house mirrored her own. "Our houses," she wrote, "are our biographies, the stories of our defeats and victories."

Tinged with nostalgia and disenchantment, the book describes a Provincetown that has changed, a place on the verge of modernity. It is no longer a major fishing port. It has become a place whose business is tourism. Contrasting the old and the new, Vorse celebrates the enduring character of the town itself. She tells stories that are engaging and charming, droll and fabulous. The wrinkled Mrs. Mary Mooncusser who, though drunk and stark naked, conducts herself with great decorum when Vorse pays her a call, might have stepped out of the pages of Sherwood Anderson or Eudora Welty. In another anecdote, the townspeople scour the beaches for cases of booze dumped into the sea by rumrunners and are briefly inflated with the spirit of ancestral smugglers and buccaneers.

Vorse herself remained something of an outsider in Provincetown, despite her evident affection for the place and its inhabitants. They surely regarded her as simply another of those artist-intellectuals--many of whom appear in the pages of this book. The "off-Cape" outsiders put the town in the national limelight but took no interest in local matters. Vorse here ponders local matters exclusively, almost, one suspects, as a way of forgetting the more complex matters that occupied her--her agonies of parental guilt, her resentment of domestic obligations, her third marriage, her depressions and breakdowns. The town is in that sense beyond time.

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A Time to Speak
The Story of a Young American Lawyer's Struggle for His City—and Himself
Charles Morgan Jr., With a New Foreword by Senator Doug Jones
University of Alabama Press, 2022
Brings back into print a classic account of courage and calamity in the long march toward racial justice in the South, and the nation
On September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young Black girls. The very next day, a prominent white lawyer named Charles Morgan Jr. was scheduled to speak at a luncheon held by the Young Men’s Business Club of Birmingham. A well-regarded figure in the city’s legal and business establishment, Morgan had been mentioned frequently as a candidate for political office. To the shock of his longtime friends and associates, Morgan deviated from his planned remarks, instead using his platform to place the blame for the murder of the four young girls squarely on the shoulders of the city’s white middle-class establishment, those seated before him.
As much as his stand was admired nationally, in Birmingham the results were destructive for him personally. Threats against his life and the lives of his family poured in daily by phone and mail, his political career was finished, and he was faced with financial ruin. Within weeks, he moved his family out of the state, and thenceforward committed himself to legal action in the name of racial justice. In 1964, he established the regional office of the ACLU in Atlanta. In the 1964 Supreme Court case Reynolds v. Sims, Morgan successfully argued that districts in state legislatures needed to be of nearly equal size, establishing the principle of “one man, one vote” to effectively end the use of gerrymandering.
A Time to Speak was originally published in 1964, a mere year after Morgan and his family fled Birmingham. The memoir recounts not only his speech, but his entire upbringing and the political, cultural, and social milieus in which he was raised and which gave rise to the cowardice, institutional silence, fear, and hate that those conditions nursed. This new edition features a foreword from US Senator Doug Jones.

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To Change the World
My Years in Cuba
Randall, Margaret
Rutgers University Press, 2009
In To Change the World, the legendary writer and poet Margaret Randall chronicles her decade in Cuba from 1969 to 1980. Both a highly personal memoir and an examination of the revolution's great achievements and painful mistakes, the book paints a portrait of the island during a difficult, dramatic, and exciting time.

Randall gives readers an inside look at her children's education, the process through which new law was enacted, the ins and outs of healthcare, employment, internationalism, culture, and ordinary people's lives. She explores issues of censorship and repression, describing how Cuban writers and artists faced them. She recounts one of the country's last beauty pageants, shows us a night of People's Court, and takes us with her when she shops for her family's food rations. Key figures of the revolution appear throughout, and Randall reveals aspects of their lives never before seen.

More than fifty black and white photographs, most by the author, add depth and richness to this astute and illuminating memoir. Written with a poet's ear, depicted with a photographer's eye, and filled with a feminist vision, To Change the Worldùneither an apology nor gratuitous attackùadds immensely to the existing literature on revolutionary Cuba.


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To Do Justice
The Civil Rights Ministry of Reverend Robert E. Hughes
Randall C. Jimerson
University of Alabama Press, 2022
Biography of a civil rights activist who worked tirelessly at the heart of two social and political revolutions

A native Alabamian, Reverend Robert E. Hughes worked full-time in the civil rights movement as executive director of the Alabama Council of Human Relations, where he developed a close relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After facing backlash from the Ku Klux Klan, spending four days in jail for refusing to disclose ACHR membership lists, and ultimately being forced to leave the state of Alabama, he served as a Methodist missionary in Southern Rhodesia (now part of Zimbabwe). After two years of organizing Black liberation groups, he was banned as a “prohibited immigrant” by the Ian Smith government. His lifelong commitment to social justice, racial equality, and peaceful resolution of conflicts marks a fascinating career richly documented in this comprehensive biography.

To Do Justice: The Civil Rights Ministry of Reverend Robert E. Hughes traces the life and career of an admirable and lesser-known civil rights figure who fought injustice on two continents. This account presents valuable new evidence about the civil rights movement in the United States as well as human rights and liberation issues in colonial Southern Rhodesia in the years leading up to independence and self-rule. It provides an intimate portrait of a courageous individual who worked outside of the public spotlight but provided essential support and informational resources to public activists and news reporters
Randall C. Jimerson explores the interwoven threads of race relations and religious beliefs on two continents, focusing on the dual themes of the American civil rights movement and the African struggles for decolonization and majority rule. The life and career of Robert Hughes provide insight into the international dimensions of racial prejudice and discrimination that can be viewed in comparative context to similar oppressions in other colonial lands.


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Toward a Natural Forest
The Forest Service in Transition (A Memoir)
Jim Furnish
Oregon State University Press, 2015
Jim Furnish joined the U.S. Forest Service in 1965, enthusiastic and naive, proud to be part of such a storied and accomplished agency. Nothing could have prepared him for the crisis that would soon rock the agency to its foundation, as a burgeoning environmental movement challenged the Forest Service’s legacy and legitimacy.

The Forest Service stumbled in responding to a wave of lawsuits from environmental groups in the late 20th Century—a phenomenon best symbolized by the spotted owl controversy that shut down logging on public forests in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s. The agency was brought to its knees, pitted between a powerful timber industry that had been having its way with the national forests for decades, and organized environmentalists who believed public lands had been abused and deserved better stewardship.

Toward a Natural Forest offers an insider’s view of this tumultuous time in the history of the Forest Service, presenting twin tales of transformation, both within the agency and within the author’s evolving environmental consciousness. While stewarding our national forests with the best of intentions, had the Forest Service diminished their natural essence and ecological values? How could one man confront the crisis while remaining loyal to his employer?

In this revealing memoir, Furnish addresses the fundamental human drive to gain sustenance from and protect the Earth, believing that we need not destroy it in the process. Drawing on the author’s personal experience and his broad professional knowledge, Toward a Natural Forest illuminates the potential of the Forest Service to provide strong leadership in global conservation efforts. Those interested in our public lands—environmentalists, natural resource professionals, academics, and historians—will find Jim Furnish’s story deeply informed, thought-provoking, and ultimately inspiring.

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Twenty Years at Hull-House
Jane Addams, with Autobiographical Notes. Introduction and Notes by James Hurt.
University of Illinois Press, 1990
A bedrock text of American progressivism, Twenty Years at Hull-House tells the dramatic story of how social reformer Jane Addams cofounded and developed the Chicago settlement house into a community center dedicated to serving the city's immigrants and poor. Addams provides an eyewitness account of urban life in her lifetime while explaining the ideas and experiences that motivated her to dedicate her life to helping these Chicagoans. By arguing that Americans should respect immigrants' traditions, Addams created a successful template for integrating newcomers into society and empowering them to seek out what they needed from government, business, and other institutions. Addams' philosophy and tireless pursuit of social justice influenced people and movements around the world. One of the best-known public figures of her time, Addams won the Nobel Peace Prize and a century later remains an inspirational figure in American history.

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George M. Houser and the Struggle for Peace and Freedom on Two Continents
Sheila D. Collins
Ohio University Press, 2020

This remarkable biography features a white American pacifist minister whose tireless work for justice and human rights helped reshape Black civil rights in the U.S. and Africa.

George M. Houser (1916–2015) was one of the most important civil rights and antiwar activists of the twentieth century. A conscientious objector during World War II, in 1942 Houser cofounded and led the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), whose embrace of nonviolent protest strategies and tactics characterized the modern American Civil Rights Movement. Beginning in the 1950s, Houser played a critical role in pan-Africanist anticolonial movements, and his more than thirty-year dedication to the cause of human rights and self-determination helped prepare the ground for the toppling of the South African apartheid regime.

Throughout his life, Houser shunned publicity, preferring to let his actions speak his faith. Sheila Collins’s well-researched biography recounts the events that informed Houser’s life of activism—from his childhood experiences as the son of missionaries in the Philippines to his early grounding in the Social Gospel and the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi. In light of the corruption the U.S. and the world face today, Houser’s story of faith and decisive action for human rights and social justice is one for our time.


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Wall Between
Anne Braden
University of Tennessee Press, 1999
"The Wall Between is a chilling depiction of a pattern repeated over and over again across the South as brave Blacks and whites tried to breach the barrier between the races. . . . We need to know Anne Braden's story, perhaps even more in 1999 than when she wrote it in 1957." —from the foreword by Julian Bond

In 1954, Anne and Carl Braden bought a house in an all-white neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, on behalf of a black couple, Andrew and Charlotte Wade. The Wall Between is Anne Braden's account of what resulted from this act of friendship: mob violence against the Wades, the bombing of the house, and imprisonment for her husband on charges of sedition.

A nonfiction finalist for the 1958 National Book Award, The Wall Between is one of only a few first-person accounts from civil rights movement activists—even rarer for its author being white. Offering an insider's view of movement history, it is as readable for its drama as for its sociological importance. It contains no heroes or villains, according to Braden—only people urged on by forces of history that they often did not understand.

In an epilogue written for this edition, the author traces the lives of the Bradens and Wades subsequent to events in the original book and reports on her and her husband's continuing activities in the Civil Rights movement, including reminiscences of their friendship with Martin Luther King. Looking back on that history, she warns readers that the entire nation still must do what white Southerners did in the 1950s to ensure equal rights: turn its values, assumptions, and policies upside down.

In his foreword to this edition, Julian Bond reflects on the significance of the events Anne describes and the importance of the work the Bradens and others like them undertook. What's missing today, he observes, is not Wades who want a home but Bradens who will help them fight for one. Anne and Carl Braden showed that integrated groups fight best for an integrated world, and The Wall Between is a lasting testament to that dedication.

The Author: Ann Braden was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and worked as a newspaper reporter and a public relations agent for trade unions. She served as a delegate to the 1984 and 1988 Democratic National Conventions and has been a visiting professor at Northern Kentucky University, where she teaches civil rights history. She continues to work with the Kentucky Alliance against Racial and Political Repression.

[Gene: edit for book cover by deleting last sentences of second and third paragraphs, last two of fourth.
The Bond foreword isn't exactly bristling with quotes. The only drawback to the one I selected is that the reference to 1999 might tend to date the book if you use it on the back cover. Do you think you could legitimately edit it to read "even more today"?]

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Walter F. White
The NAACP's Ambassador for Racial Justice
RONALD L. Zangrando, Robert L.
West Virginia University Press, 2018

Walter F. White of Atlanta, Georgia, joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1918 as an assistant to Executive Secretary James Weldon Johnson. When Johnson retired in 1929, White replaced him as head of the NAACP, a position he maintained until his death in 1955. During his long tenure, White was in the vanguard of the struggle for interracial justice. His reputation went into decline, however, in the era of grassroots activism that followed his death. White’s disagreements with the US Left, and his ambiguous racial background—he was of mixed heritage, could “pass” as white, and divorced a black woman to marry a white woman—fueled ambivalence about his legacy.

In this comprehensive biography, Zangrando and Lewis seek to provide a reassessment of White within the context of his own time, revising critical interpretations of his career. White was a promoter of and a participant in the Harlem Renaissance, a daily fixture in the halls of Congress lobbying for civil rights legislation, and a powerful figure with access to the administrations of Roosevelt (via Eleanor) and Truman. As executive secretary of the NAACP, White fought incessantly to desegregate the American military and pushed to ensure equal employment opportunities. On the international stage, White advocated for people of color in a decolonized world, and for economic development aid to nations like India and Haiti, bridging the civil rights struggles at home and abroad.


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Wangari Maathai
Tabitha Kanogo
Ohio University Press, 2020

Wangari Muta Maathai is one of Africa’s most celebrated female activists. Originally trained as a scientist in Kenya and abroad, Professor Maathai returned to her home country of Kenya with a renewed political consciousness. There, she began her long career as an activist, campaigning for environmental and social justice while speaking out against government corruption. In 2004, Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership of the Green Belt Movement, a conservation effort that resulted in the restoration of African forests decimated during the colonial era.

In this biography, Tabitha Kanogo follows Wangari Maathai from her modest, rural Kenyan upbringing to her rise as a national figure campaigning for environmental and ecological conservation, sustainable development, democracy, human rights, gender equality, and the eradication of poverty until her death in 2011.


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We Will Always Be Here
A Guide to Exploring and Understanding the History of LGBTQ+ Activism in Wisconsin
Jenny Kalvaitis
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2021
This inspiring and educational book presents examples of LGBTQ+ activism throughout Wisconsin’s history for young people to explore and discuss. Drawing from a rich collection of primary sources—including diary entries, love letters, zines, advertisements, oral histories, and more—the book provides a jumping-off point for readers who are interested in learning more about LGBTQ+ history and activism, as well as for readers who want to build on the work of earlier activists.

We Will Always Be Here shines a light on powerful and often untold stories from Wisconsin’s history, featuring individuals across a wide spectrum of identities and from all corners of the state. The LGBTQ+ people, allies, and activists in this guide changed the world by taking steps that young people can take today—by educating themselves, telling their own stories, being true to themselves, building communities, and getting active. The aim of this celebratory book is not only to engage young people in Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ history, but also to empower them to make positive change in the world.

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When You Dare to Say Yes
Jill Derby and Nevada Activism
Jill Derby
University of Nevada Press, 2024
In 1973, a radical choice that Jill Derby made while under pressure changed the trajectory of her career from a potential profession in academia to that of a lifelong political activist. When You Dare to Say Yes is a decades-spanning account of how a conservative and conventional upbringing, which began in rural Nevada, evolved into progressive political activism that influenced the course of the state’s education system and advanced women’s gender equality in public life. 

Derby’s account of the awakening of her post-college experience living abroad and stories of her global travels infuse this memoir with an international perspective and entertaining vignettes. Ultimately, Derby shares her personal understanding of the transformative power of living among different cultures.

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Why They Marched
Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote
Susan Ware
Harvard University Press, 2019

“Lively and delightful…zooms in on the faces in the crowd to help us understand both the depth and the diversity of the women’s suffrage movement. Some women went to jail. Others climbed mountains. Visual artists, dancers, and journalists all played a part…Far from perfect, they used their own abilities, defects, and opportunities to build a movement that still resonates today.”
—Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, author of Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

“An intimate account of the unheralded activism that won women the right to vote, and an opportunity to celebrate a truly diverse cohort of first-wave feminist changemakers.”

“Demonstrates the steady advance of women’s suffrage while also complicating the standard portrait of it.”
New Yorker

The story of how American women won the right to vote is usually told through the lives of a few iconic leaders. But movements for social change are rarely so tidy or top-heavy. Why They Marched profiles nineteen women—some famous, many unknown—who worked tirelessly out of the spotlight protesting, petitioning, and insisting on their right to full citizenship.

Ware shows how women who never thought they would participate in politics took actions that were risky, sometimes quirky, and often joyous to fight for a cause that mobilized three generations of activists.

The dramatic experiences of these pioneering feminists—including an African American journalist, a mountain-climbing physician, a southern novelist, a polygamous Mormon wife, and two sisters on opposite sides of the suffrage divide—resonate powerfully today, as a new generation of women demands to be heard.


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Yolqui, a Warrior Summoned from the Spirit World
Testimonios on Violence
Roberto Cintli Rodríguez; Foreword by Patrisia Gonzales
University of Arizona Press, 2019
In Nahuatl yolqui is the idea of a warrior brought back from the dead. For author and activist Roberto Cintli Rodríquez, it describes his own experience one night in March 1979 after a brutal beating at the hands of L.A. sheriffs.

Framed by Rodríguez’s personal testimony of police violence, this book offers a historia profunda of the culture of extralegal violence against Red-Black-Brown communities in the United States. In addition to Rodríguez’s story, this book includes several short essays from victims and survivors that bring together personal accounts of police brutality and state-sponsored violence. This wide-ranging work touches on historical and current events, including the Watts rebellion, the Zoot Suit Riots, Operation Streamline, Standing Rock, and much more.

From the eyewitness accounts of Bartolomé de las Casas to the protestors and allies at Standing Rock, this book makes evident the links between colonial violence against Red-Black-Brown bodies to police violence in our communities today. Grounded in the stories of the lives of victims and survivors of police violence, Yolqui, a Warrior Summoned from the Spirit World illuminates the physical, spiritual, and epistemic depths and consequences of racialized dehumanization.

Rodríguez offers us an urgent, poignant, and personal call to end violence and the philosophies that permit such violence to flourish. Like the Nahuatl yolqui, this book is intended as a means of healing, offering a footprint going back to the origins of violence, and, more important, a way forward.

With contributions by Raúl Alcaraz-Ochoa, Citalli Álvarez, Tanya Alvarez, Rebekah Barber, Juvenal Caporale, David Cid, Arianna Martinez Reyna, Carlos Montes, Travis Morales, Simon Moya Smith, Cesar Noriega, Kimberly Phillips, Christian Ramirez, Michelle Rascon Canales, Carolyn Torres, Jerry Tello, Tara Trudell, and Laurie Valdez.

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