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10 Books to Understand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy in 2019

Five decades after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, American society is still working towards the dream that he envisioned. These ten essential nonfiction books shed light on these decades after Dr. King’s life, the Civil Rights movement, and show how his legacy has shaped the past half-century. Learn from the experiences of activists, lawyers, and journalists about the ongoing and necessary work towards racial equality.

  1. 1
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture

    There Will Be No Miracles Here

    by Casey Gerald

    When Casey Gerald is recruited to play football at Yale, he enters a world he’s never dreamed of, the anteroom to secret societies and success on Wall Street, in Washington, and beyond. But even as he attains the inner sanctums of power, Casey sees how the world crushes those who live at its margins.
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture
    There Will Be No Miracles Here Book Cover Picture

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  2. 2
    Negroland Book Cover Picture
    Negroland Book Cover Picture

    Negroland: A Memoir

    by Margo Jefferson

    Margo Jefferson’s memoir of growing up among Chicago’s black upper class gives us a different perspective on the changes wrought by the Civil Rights movement and everything that came after.
    Negroland Book Cover Picture
    Negroland Book Cover Picture

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  3. 3
    Democracy in Black Book Cover Picture
    Democracy in Black Book Cover Picture

    Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul

    by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

    Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.’s treatise on the state and station of America’s black community in 2016 is required reading for anyone seeking to better understand institutional racism, #BlackLivesMatter, and the fallacy of a “post-racial society.”
    Democracy in Black Book Cover Picture
    Democracy in Black Book Cover Picture

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  4. 4
    Rest in Power Book Cover Picture
    Rest in Power Book Cover Picture

    Rest in Power

    by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

    Rest in Power, told through the alternating narratives of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, is the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power.
    Rest in Power Book Cover Picture
    Rest in Power Book Cover Picture

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  5. 5
    American Prison Book Cover Picture
    American Prison Book Cover Picture

    American Prison

    by Shane Bauer

    In 2014, award-winning investigative journalist Shane Bauer was hired for $9 an hour to work as an entry-level prison guard at a private prison in Winnfield, Louisiana. He soon realized that private prisons became entrenched in the South as part of a systemic effort to keep the African-American labor force in place in the aftermath of slavery.
    American Prison Book Cover Picture
    American Prison Book Cover Picture

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  6. 6
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture

    We Were Eight Years in Power

    by Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.”
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture
    We Were Eight Years in Power Book Cover Picture

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  7. 7
    Just Mercy Book Cover Picture
    Just Mercy Book Cover Picture

    Just Mercy

    by Bryan Stevenson

    Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
    Just Mercy Book Cover Picture
    Just Mercy Book Cover Picture

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  8. 8
    On the Other Side of Freedom Book Cover Picture
    On the Other Side of Freedom Book Cover Picture

    On the Other Side of Freedom

    by DeRay Mckesson

    In August 2014, DeRay Mckesson stood with hundreds of others on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to push a message of justice and accountability. These protests, and others like them in cities across the country, resulted in the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Honoring the voices of a new generation of activists, On the Other Side of Freedom is a visionary’s call to take responsibility for imagining, and then building, the world we want to live in.
    On the Other Side of Freedom Book Cover Picture
    On the Other Side of Freedom Book Cover Picture

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  9. 9
    Tigerland Book Cover Picture
    Tigerland Book Cover Picture

    Tigerland

    by Wil Haygood

    Tigerland is the story of two teams from a poor, black, segregated high school in Ohio, who, in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968/1969, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year.
    Tigerland Book Cover Picture
    Tigerland Book Cover Picture

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  10. 10
    I'm Still Here Book Cover Picture
    I'm Still Here Book Cover Picture

    I’m Still Here

    by Austin Channing Brown

    Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value “diversity” in their mission statements, I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words.
    I'm Still Here Book Cover Picture
    I'm Still Here Book Cover Picture

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