Suggested Reading

Read one of these books or newsletters to deepen your understanding of the history of race in our community:


Sorting Out The New South City by Tom Hanchett

One of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the South, Charlotte, North Carolina, came of age in the New South decades of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, transforming itself from a rural courthouse village to the trading and financial hub of America’s premier textile manufacturing region. In this book, Thomas Hanchett traces the city’s spatial evolution over the course of a century, exploring the interplay of national trends and local forces that shaped Charlotte, and, by extension, other New South urban centers. Hanchett argues that racial and economic segregation are not age-old givens, but products of a decades-long process. 

Color & Character by Pamela Grundy

Color and Character is a remarkable book, capturing the story of the desegregation and resegregation of one of America’s greatest high schools. It brings to life fully the success and failure, joy and pain, hope and despair at the heart of the American pursuit of racial equality. And it shows that the hopes and dreams of millions of children and their advocates depend on the ability of our schools–and our society–to work for all of us, not just the privileged few.

Money Rock by Pam Kelley

This gripping tale, populated with characters both big-hearted and flawed, shows how social forces and public policies―racism, segregation, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration―help shape individual destinies. Money Rock is a deeply American story, one that will leave readers reflecting on the near impossibility of making lasting change, in our lives and as a society, until we reckon with the sins of our past

Wilmington’s Lie by David Zucchino

A gripping account of the overthrow of the elected government of a Black-majority North Carolina city after Reconstruction that untangles a complicated set of power dynamics cutting across race, class and gender.

HowtheWordisPassed_CS (1) How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith III

Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.

Freedom to Discriminate: How Realtors Conspired to Segregate Housing and Divide America by Gene Slater

Freedom to Discriminate uncovers realtors’ definitive role in segregating America and shaping modern conservative ideology. Drawing on confidential documents from leaders of the real estate industry, Gene Slater reveals how realtors systematically created and justified residential segregation.

Race Deconstructed (Newsletter by CNN)

Sign up for CNN’s Race Deconstructed newsletter to gain insight into current events and American history through analyses and Q&As on the role that race plays in culture, politics and more.


Black Lives Matter Digital Branch Page (collected by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library)

Black Lives Matter programs provide a safe space for our community to discuss important issues related to racism, racial equity, and racial justice. These programs explore Black lives and experiences on a greater spectrum, providing access to quality resources and exposure to new perspectives. These programs give our community the educational tools to move toward racial equity and justice in Mecklenburg County.

Legacy:  Three Centuries of Black History in Charlotte, North Carolina by Pamela Grundy

The stories told by many generations of Charlotte’s African American residents mingle strength and hardship, accomplishment and setback, joy and pain. Through slavery, through war, through Jim Crow segregation and into the 21st century Black residents from all walks of life have played essential roles in making Charlotte the city it is today. Everyone needs to know this history.

The Emancipator:  Reframing the Conversation on Racial Justice and Equity

Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research and The Boston Globe’s Opinion team are collaborating to resurrect and reimagine The Emancipator, the first abolitionist newspaper in the United States.  Founded more than 200 years ago, The Emancipator is provided without a paywall.


Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle by The Zinn Education Project

This report represents a comprehensive effort by the Zinn Education Project to understand Reconstruction’s place in state social studies standards across the United States, examine the nature and extent of the barriers to teaching effective Reconstruction history, and make focused recommendations for improvement.


A Different Mirror:  A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki

Beginning with the colonization of the New World, this book recounts the history of America in the voice of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States – Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and other groups who helped create this country’s rich mosaic culture.


Ibram X. Kendi Summer Reading List by

Summer’s nearly here, and as an antidote to those stale—and sometimes problematic—school-suggested summer reading lists, Parents has collaborated with some of the most stellar names in book publishing to offer Alternate Summer Reading Lists, curated by authors and educators to reflect the world as kids today really see it.

Our first comes from Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D., professor of Humanities at Boston University, and founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, as well as the New York Times bestselling author of books including How to Be Antiracist, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, and Antiracist Baby.

His latest, How to Raise an Antiracist, offers parents, caregivers, and educators solid guidance for tackling racism and systemic structures head on and creating an antiracist mindset for adults and kids alike. The book delves deep into scientific research on child development and the impact racism and societal structures have on kids, presented in the thoughtful and accessible voice we’ve come to expect from Dr. Kendi. But it also follows Dr. Kendi’s own journey as a parent trying to navigate talking to his kid about racism, offering lessons for parents of kids of all ages. Here, Dr. Kendi offers eight titles that might help start those critical conversations.


Under the Skin:  The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and On the Health of Our Nation by Linda Villarosa

In 2018, Linda Villarosa’s New York Times Magazine article on maternal and infant mortality among black mothers and babies in America caused an awakening. Hundreds of studies had previously established a link between racial discrimination and the health of Black Americans, with little progress toward solutions. But Villarosa’s article exposing that a Black woman with a college education is as likely to die or nearly die in childbirth as a white woman with an eighth grade education made racial disparities in health care impossible to ignore.

Now, in Under the Skin, Linda Villarosa lays bare the forces in the American health-care system and in American society that cause Black people to “live sicker and die quicker” compared to their white counterparts. Today’s medical texts and instruments still carry fallacious slavery-era assumptions that Black bodies are fundamentally different from white bodies. Study after study of medical settings show worse treatment and outcomes for Black patients. Black people live in dirtier, more polluted communities due to environmental racism and neglect from all levels of government. And, most powerfully, Villarosa describes the new understanding that coping with the daily scourge of racism ages Black people prematurely. Anchored by unforgettable human stories and offering incontrovertible proof, Under the Skin is dramatic, tragic, and necessary reading.



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