Pod Save the People's DeRay Mckesson begins On the Other Side of Freedom (Viking, $25) with the Ferguson protests of 2014, and keeps your adrenaline surging for the rest of the book. He writes a heartfelt and brutally honest memoir of growing up black in America, the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, and his continuing work in education, policy, and advocacy. This book is a perfectly executed balancing act: we see heart-wrenching story telling as well as powerful suggestions aimed at dismantling oppressive systems in our society. Mckesson consistently calls on his readers to challenge the legacy of racism with the hope that pressing issues, such as police brutality, can be solved within our lifetime. Brimming with emotion, intelligence, and most importantly, hope, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the reality of justice in America—past and present—and the way forward.
Not until publication of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics (St. Martin’s , $28.99) has our country acknowledged or fully appreciated how four African American women—the self-proclaimed “colored girls”—have so deeply influenced contemporary American politics. This book, written with candor and humor by Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore, recounts how these “colored girls” found their paths in politics and at the center of the Democratic Party, working in every Democratic presidential campaign since 1984 and inside the last two Democratic administrations. Each woman alone is worthy of her own biography. But taken together, the stories of Brazile, Caraway, Daughtry, and Moore offer a unique and welcome primer on political activism, progressive social movements, party politics, and the nobility of public service. Their story is an important slice of American history, and a very enjoyable read to boot.
Derek Black grew up schooled in racist ideology and was heir-apparent to the white nationalist movement. But after entering college, he ended up reexamining his extremist beliefs and eventually repudiated them, denounced white nationalism, and publicly divorced himself from the movement. It was quite a shock when all this happened several years ago, and Eli Saslow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writer with the Washington Post, recounts this remarkable transformation in intimate, riveting detail in Rising Out of Hatred (Doubleday, $26.95). While the book focuses on the journey of a single former white nationalist, parts of the story reflect America’s larger ongoing struggles with racism. As Saslow suggests, Black’s personal evolution could provide lessons for the nation’s own way ahead. Indeed, one of the main takeaways of the book is the potential for dialogue and moral reasoning to overcome hateful dogmas.