Published March 17, 2020

Social justice takes many forms. This year, examining inequalities past and present was a strong theme in planned Festival programming. Through their books, many Festival speakers tackle race, class, and socioeconomic disparities from the ground up, offering hopeful visions for change in the future. Keep reading for some suggested books on social justice and activism…

  • A Federal Right to Education by Kimberly Jenkins Robinson 
    “[A Federal Right to Education] is the first comprehensive examination of three issues regarding a federal right to education: why federal intervention is needed to close educational opportunity and achievement gaps; the constitutional and statutory legal avenues that could be employed to guarantee a federal right to education; and, the scope of what a federal right to education should guarantee.”—NYU Press

  • Education for Liberation by Gerard Robinson
    “Powerfully written and incredibly timely, Education for Liberation provides the dialogue needed to move our country forward in figuring out how to break the destructive cycle of incarceration and re-incarceration. This book provides a truly multidisciplinary account of the challenges of preparing individuals for productive lives post-incarceration and the opportunities for innovation. Addressing one of the nation’s most critical issues of our time, this is required reading for all interested in improving the well-being of our communities.” —Carrie Pettus-Davis, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Justice Research & Development, Florida State University

  • Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy by Matt Stoller
    “Matt Stoller has written a fascinating, deeply researched and almost hypnotic tale of the often tense relationship between corporate power and democracy. It has obvious parallels to where we are today, and lessons to be learned as we work to once again make democracy work for the people. Stoller’s documentation of this lost history is more important than ever as we deal with the effects of the financial crisis and deep-seeded poverty, the growing power of technology companies and the extraordinary gap that exists today between the richest few and everybody else.”Pramila Jayapal, United States congresswoman

  • Identity Politics in the United States by Khalilah L. Brown-Dean
    “Brown-Dean situates today’s identity politics debates within a much-needed legal and political historical context, revealing that all politics are indeed about identity, and urging us to resist simplistic frameworks and instead engage in tough but necessary conversations about difference.”—Heath Fogg Davis, Temple University

  • Migrating to Prison by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández
    “An accessible history and fierce critique of the U.S. immigration system. . . .  [Hernández’s] thoughtful mixture of reportage and legal scholarship makes for an important entry in the immigration debate.”—Publishers Weekly

  • Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
    “Essential for readers wishing to understand the depth and differentials of U.S. racial discrimination, Taylor’s masterly expose of the political economy of the racially bifurcated market systematically lays bare how residential segregation made profits from race; it also illustrates the mismatch of market solutions to racist policies and practices and underscores the limits of legislation alone to undo institutional racism.”—Library Journal, starred review

  • The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy: Stories of Grant-Makers in the South by  Martin Lehfeldt and Jamil Zainaldin 
    “Very little has been written about the way in which the grant-making foundations have shaped the modern economy and culture of the South… [Lehfeldt and Zainaldin] fill that gap in our understanding with their comprehensive yet accessible history of philanthropic organizations’ work in the region.”—Storyline Group

  • The Power Worshippers by Katherine Stewart 
    “The Power Worshippers is a brilliantly reported book of warning and a wake-up call. Stewart’s probing examination demands that Christian nationalism be taken seriously as a significant threat to the American republic and our democratic freedoms.”—Bloomsbury

  • The Road to Healing: A Civil Rights Reparations Story in Prince Edward County, Virginia by Ken Woodley 
    “As someone who was directly and indirectly affected by the shameful history in Prince Edward County, I truly believe God sent Ken Woodley as one of his shepherds to heal the racial divide and help us move towards reconciliation. The Road to Healing is a gripping account ― candid and informed ― of Woodley’s efforts to right a terrible wrong in the wake of what happened in Virginia in the years between 1951 and 1964. An emotional, powerful must-read!”—Joan Johns Cobb, sister of civil rights history-maker Barbara Rose Johns

  • Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal by Alec Karakatsanis
    “Alec Karakatsanis is a leading voice in the legal struggle to dismantle mass incarceration, this century’s defining civil rights issue. What he says cannot be ignored.”—James Forman, Jr., Pulitzer Prize winning author of Locking Up Our Own

  • When Islam is Not a Religion: Inside America’s Fight for Religious Freedom by Asma T. Uddin
    “Uddin pushes back forcefully on anti-Muslim sentiment in this reasoned, approachable book. Uddin’s thorough research, formidable intelligence, and eloquent prose are evident throughout, and she persuasively dismantles misconceptions about American Muslims. The work provides an accessible introduction to key Islamic concepts alongside a clarion call for the protection of everyone’s religious rights. Readers interested in the current political struggles of Muslim Americans or the legal issues surrounding religious liberties will find much to ponder in Uddin’s excellent work.”—Publishers Weekly

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