Author Essay

Books About Black Liberation

The authors and podcast hosts of Truth’s Table on important, must-read titles about Black freedom.

By Ekemini Uwan, Christina Edmondson, and Michelle Higgins

We are our sister’s keeper, and Truth’s Table: Black Women’s Musings on Life, Love, and Liberation was written in that spirit of sisterly love and affection. Over five years ago, Ekemini Uwan, Michelle Higgins, and Christina Edmondson decided to start Truth’s Table podcast, “a table built by Black women and for Black women.” We did not know that Truth’s Table would become an award-winning podcast with a companion book wherein we poured out our hearts on topics like colorism, divorce, marriage, singleness, Blackness, liberation, and more, just as we have done on the show. Black liberation is not only something we fight for now; we believe it’s our final destination.  

Reading about Black liberation has been formative in our journey as learners, teachers, thinkers, and writers. White supremacy has actively and violently resisted liberative literature that frees Black minds and imaginations. Since the times that enslavers removed the book of Exodus from the Bible, Africans in America have read and written words of great cost and consequence for the sake of freedom. Generations later, we continue to be shaped, reshaped, informed, and fueled by the long tradition of freedom writing. Below, we reflect on a few books about Black liberation that stand in this important tradition and humbly offer our own. 

Truth’s Table Book: Black Women’s Musings on Life, Love, and Liberation by Ekemini Uwan, Christina Edmondson, and Michelle Higgins

A collection of musings that weave critical analysis, inspirational storytelling, and soaring sermonic prose on a myriad of topics that center the wounds and wonders of Black women. The authors talk to and about the Divine in ways that are refreshing and convicting while unapologetically bringing to bear the liberative Christian tradition on each topic. Readers are beckoned through these twelve diverse but complementary chapters covering the themes of life, love, and liberation to reflect deeply on their own stories, resist injustice, self-delusion, and renew their sense of joy.  

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Truth's Table
By Ekemini Uwan, Christina Edmondson and Michelle Higgins
Hardcover $26.00
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The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

This volume gives a look into Baldwin’s personal life as well as his populous vision. One of Baldwin’s most well-known works, this book shocked American readers with his articulation, cultural critique, and fearlessness to address issues, concepts, and subjects that were considered impolite to tackle directly. Baldwin activated a new radical voice in the ongoing fight for Black freedom and rose in the common consciousness as one of the major players of the Civil Rights movement. James Baldwin challenges Americans of every color and creed to take aggressive action against a racist nation. Part confessional, part sermon, and part call-to-action, this is required reading for anyone interested in a personal, political, and passionate journey toward Black liberation. 

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The Fire Next Time
By James Baldwin
Hardcover $22.00
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Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Published in 1967, this book is the slain civil rights leader and systematic theologian’s final work. Advocating for the mass employment of non-violent activism and the strategic and unified use of the ballot, King offers a blueprint for the necessary future resistance against racism in America and beyond. King’s deep understanding of poverty, militarism, and American racism is on full display as he speaks to the strengths and concerns of the responses to injustice prevalent in his day that still serve us well over five decades later.  A consistently timely, sobering, inspirational, and practical work with prophetic power for today’s chaotic political culture. 

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Where Do We Go from Here
By Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hardcover $24.95
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All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave ed. Akasha Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell-Scott, and Barbara Smith

This collection is a landmark of Black feminist theory, political concepts, cultural movements, and gender studies. While most feminist texts focused on issues only related to white women, this book created a vast space for Black women to shift the feminist consciousness into a new, more equitable mainstream. Hailed as the first anthology of its kind, this Black feminist text can be a tool for discussion, reflection, education, and strategy-building for Black liberation. The editors and contributors laid the groundwork for what was, at the time, a revolutionary saying: that whatever brought freedom to the Black woman would be a work of liberation for all. As a trio of Black woman authors, we have been inspired by many of the visions shared in this work. 

Ella Baker & the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision by Barbara Ransby

Dr. Ransby has produced an extensively researched biography on one of the most important figures in the Black liberation movements of the 1960s. Ella Baker was committed to transformative change of the social, emotional, material, and spiritual conditions of Black people; especially the working poor. Ransby details Baker’s vision, work, and legacy in a volume that combines history, narrative, biography, guidebook, and curriculum. 

The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less by Christine Platt

As a Black woman who found her life in upheaval, Platt describes her journey and self-work as “approaching minimalism through a process of self-discovery.” She discusses the cultural obsession with owning and adding to our belongings through the lenses of attachment, connection, authenticity, and more. All in the framework of seeing our choices to live with less as connected to a new way to honor Black history, create Black culture, and invest in Black futures on our own terms. 

The Cross and The Lynching Tree by James Cone

This is a quintessential text for the library of any person of faith studying liberation theory through a theological lens and for conversations surrounding race and religion in America. Theologian James Cone makes a poignant connection between the crucifixion of Jesus and the white church’s active participation in the lynching of Black people throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Calling upon the voices of Langston Hughes, Fannie Lou Hamer, Billie Holiday, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Cone insightfully traverses the Black American landscape and touches on social history, cultural movements, and rich theology.

The Love Trilogy by bell hooks: All About Love: New Visions, Communion: The Female Search for Love, and Salvation: Black People and Love

These three books offer insights and ideas into the place where James Cone tells us Black Liberation theory begins, in the self and in the home. Author, feminist theorist, and educator bell hooks invites us to see love as the root of justice work. With All About Love, she gives us an admonishment to ground our communities in a shared definition of love. In Communion, she details the challenges of women’s search for love and offers wisdom on how this is part of the fight for freedom. In Salvation, bell hooks lovingly guides the reader through a plan for Black community love, through mother wit and cultural history.