Race Relations

The Lions of Little Rock

By Kristin Levine

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In 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas, painfully shy twelve-year-old Marlee sees her city and family divided over school integration, but her friendship with Liz, a new student, helps her find her voice and fight against racism.  Available in eAudio.

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The Seventeenth Child by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne

The Seventeenth Child by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne

The Seventeenth Child, by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne, sets down the memories of a childhood lived in the countryside of 1930s Virginia by a black woman who grew up before the Civil Rights Movement made so many gains.  These remembrances are plain, soft-spoken and ring true to an age that was certainly different from the one we know.  In some ways, it was a harder time as in her earliest years even basic food was very hard to come by and the sharecropping system made it difficult for all farmers, black and white, to get ahead or even stay afloat during the bad harvest years.

But it was the warmth of family, faith, shared hardship and simple joys that made those days good as well as difficult. The children worked, not only because their help was needed but because it was understood that working was a good thing in and of itself. They helped pull and tend tobacco, can vegetables, sew quilts, raise chickens, and shell corn.  Lucille Payne tells of how hard it was to earn money. How sometimes her mother might not be paid much more than fifty cents for a hard day’s washing of filthy clothes in a dark and cold shed. Well, fifty cents and a hambone that might not be fit to eat without it being scrubbed, too, and sometimes not even then. But her mother said, “Well, you accept what they give you; next time it might be better.”

It wasn’t all about acceptance. Sometimes Lucille would see her mother spit in the water while she washed and she would ask her why she did that. “That helps to get them clean.”  But I know she was just so angry because she had to survive.  When you have so many children you have to survive the best way you can.  Likewise, when white children rode the bus to their segregated school, leaving the black children to walk and even calling them names, the black children got a bit of revenge…and a chance to be better than their so-called betters with an act of charity.

Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-girl Swing Band in the World

By Marilyn Nelson

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In the 1940s, as the world was at war, a remarkable jazz band performed on the American home front. This all-female band, originating from a boarding school in the heart of Mississippi, found its way to the most famous ballrooms in the country, offering solace during the hard years of the war. They dared to be an interracial group despite the cruelties of Jim Crow laws, and they dared to assert their talents though they were women in a "man's" profession. Told in thought-provoking poems and arresting images, this unusual look at our nation's history is deep and inspiring.

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Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker: The Unlikely Friendship of Elizabeth Keckley & Mary Todd Lincoln

By Lynda Jones

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In 1868, a controversial tell-all called Behind the Scenes introduced readers to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley. Mrs. Keckley was a former slave who had been Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker and friend during the White House years, and in the aftermath of President Lincoln's assassination. How could such a bond have developed between a woman born into slavery and the First Lady of the United States? Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker answers this question by chronicling the extraordinary lives of these women.
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Different and Wonderful: Raising Black Children in a Race-Conscious Society

By Darlene Powell Hopson and Derek S. Hopson

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A guidebook to help instill a positive self-image and self-respect in black children and to prepare them to deal with racism, written by practicing clinical psychologists and parents.

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The Good Black: A True Story of Race in America

By Paul M. Barrett

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Larry Mungin spent his life preparing to succeed in the white world. He looked away from racial inequality and hostility, believing that he'd succeed if he worked hard and played by the rules. He rose from a Queens housing project to Harvard College and Law School, and went on to the world of corporate law. But just when he should have been considered for partnership at his mostly white law firm, he sued for racial discrimination. Paul M. Barrett, Mungin's roommate at Harvard, takes readers through this fascinating case while challenging them to re-think their ideas about race.

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Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black

By Gregory Howard Williams

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Williams tells the story of his very unusual youth. Of mixed-race parentage, he was raised as a white in Virginia and as a black in Ohio. We experience with him his pain, his struggles, and his triumphs.

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Laughing in the Dark: From Colored Girl to Woman of Power - A Journey from Prison to Power

By Patrice Gaines

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"An award-winning Washington Post reporter explores the twisted path she traveled to find her place as a confident black female in a world that values whiteness and maleness. Here is a rich and insightful story of a life lived on the edge by a woman formerly preoccupied with pleasing everyone but herself."

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Slaves in the Family

By Edward Ball

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"In 1698, Elias Ball arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, from England to take possession of his inheritance: part of a plantation and twenty-five slaves. Elias and his progeny built a slave dynasty that lasted for 167 years, buying more than a dozen plantations along the Cooper River near Charleston, selling rice known as 'Carolina Gold,' and assembling close to 4,000 African and African American slaves before 1865, when Union troops arrived on the lawns of the Balls' estates to force emancipation.

"In Slaves in the Family, Edward Ball, a descendant of Elias, has written a nonfiction American saga like no other. Part history, part journey of discovery, this is the story of black and white families who lived side by side for five generations -- and a tale of everyday Americans confronting their vexed inheritance together. Using the copious plantation records of his family, supplemented by both black and white oral tradition, Ball uncovers the story of the people who lived on his ancestors' lands -- the violence and opulence, the slave uprisings and escapes, the dynastic struggles, and the mulatto children of Ball slaveholders and 'Ball slaves.' He identifies and travels to a prison in Africa from which his family once bought workers. Most remarkably of all, Ball also locates and visits some of the nearly 12,000 descendants of Ball slaves and reveals how slavery lives on in black and white memory and experience."

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