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.

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.


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