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Recent & Recommended Books on Activism

Chris Suggs started Kinston Teens when he noticed gun violence rising in his hometown. Sawyer Taylor-Arnold created her own nationwide awareness campaign by making stickers, to empower girls and women. Both of these people have one thing in common: they’re teenagers! Are you a teenager aspiring to make a change in your community or beyond? “Young Revolutionary” will give you the confidence, tools and resources you need to be a successful activist. Written by a teenager, for teenagers. This guide is a mixture of personal experiences from the author herself and real-life stories of several teen activists. Whether you are new to activism or if you are already experienced, you’ll learn everything from how to organize events, reaching out to your local officials, and spreading the word on your cause. Young people have always been at the forefront of movements, so now it’s your turn.

Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!
Marley Dias

Marley Dias, the powerhouse girl-wonder who started the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign, speaks to kids about her passion for making our world a better place, and how to make their dreams come true! In this accessible guide with an introduction by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Marley Dias explores activism, social justice, volunteerism, equity and inclusion, and using social media for good. Drawing from her experience, Marley shows kids how they can galvanize their strengths to make positive changes in their communities, while getting support from parents, teachers, and friends to turn dreams into reality. Focusing on the importance of literacy and diversity, Marley offers suggestions on book selection, and delivers hands-on strategies for becoming a lifelong reader.

African or American? Black Identity and Political Activism in New York City, 1784-1861
Leslie M. Alexander

During the early national and antebellum eras, Black leaders in New York City confronted the tenuous nature of Northern emancipation. Despite the hope of freedom, black New Yorkers faced a series of sociopolitical issues including the persistence of Southern slavery, the threat of forced removal, racial violence, and the denial of American citizenship. Even efforts to create community space within the urban landscape, such as the African Burial Ground and Seneca Village, were eventually demolished to make way for the city’s rapid development. In this illuminating history, Leslie M. Alexander chronicles the growth and development of Black activism in New York from the formation of the first Black organization, the African Society, in 1784 to the eve of the Civil War in 1861. In this critical period, Black activists sought to formulate an effective response to their unequal freedom. Examining Black newspapers, speeches, and organizational records, this study documents the creation of mutual relief, religious, and political associations, which Black men and women infused with African cultural traditions and values.

Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry
Tiffany M. Gill

Looking through the lens of black business history, Beauty Shop Politics shows how black beauticians in the Jim Crow era parlayed their economic independence and access to a public community space into platforms for activism. Tiffany M. Gill argues that the beauty industry played a crucial role in the creation of the modern black female identity and that the seemingly frivolous space of a beauty salon actually has stimulated social, political, and economic change. From the founding of the National Negro Business League in 1900 and onward, African Americans have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit by starting their own businesses, but black women’s forays into the business world were overshadowed by those of black men. With a broad scope that encompasses the role of gossip in salons, ethnic beauty products, and the social meanings of African American hair textures, Gill shows how African American beauty entrepreneurs built and sustained a vibrant culture of activism in beauty salons and schools.

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