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Recent & Recommended Books Representing MLK’s ‘Somebodiness’

“Black Aesthetics and the Interior Life” by Christopher Freeburg
Christopher Freeburg’s “Black Aesthetics and the Interior Life” offers a crucial new reading of a neglected aspect of African American literature and art across the long twentieth century. Rejecting the idea that the most dehumanizing of Black experiences, such as lynching or other racial violence, have completely robbed victims of their personhood, Freeburg rethinks what it means to be a person in the works of Black artists. This book advances the idea that individual persons always retain the ability to withhold, express, or change their ideas, and this concept has profound implications for long-held assumptions about the relationship between Black interior life and Black collective political interests.

“Belonging: A Culture of Place” by bell hooks

What does it mean to call a place home? Who is allowed to become a member of a community? When can we say that we truly belong? These are some of the questions of place and belonging that renowned cultural critic bell hooks examines in her new book, “Belonging: A Culture of Place.” Traversing past and present, the work Belonging charts a cyclical journey in which hooks moves from place to place, from country to city and back again, only to end where she began — her old Kentucky home. hooks has written provocatively about race, gender, and class; and in this book she turns her attention to focus on issues of land and land ownership.

 

 

“Notes on a Native Son” by James Baldwin

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in “Notes of a Native Son” capture a view of black life and Black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being Black in America. With a keen eye, he examines everything from the significance of the protest novel to the motives and circumstances of the many black expatriates of the time, from his home in “The Harlem Ghetto” to a sobering “Journey to Atlanta.”

 

 

“Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America” by Stacey Abrams

A recognized expert on fair voting and civic engagement, Abrams chronicles a chilling account of how the right to vote and the principle of democracy have been and continue to be under attack. Abrams would have been the first African American woman governor, but experienced these effects firsthand, despite running the most innovative race in modern politics as the Democratic nominee in Georgia. Abrams didn’t win, but she has not conceded. “Our Time is Now” compellingly argues for the importance of robust voter protections, an elevation of identity politics, engagement in the census, and a return to moral international leadership.

 

 

“Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty” by Dorothy Roberts

In 1997, this groundbreaking book made a powerful entrance into the national conversation on race. In a media landscape dominated by racially biased images of welfare queens and crack babies. It is still powerful today. “Killing the Black Body” exposed America’s systemic abuse of Black women’s bodies from slave masters’ economic stake in bonded women’s fertility to government programs that coerced thousands of poor Black women into being sterilized. These abuses, often hidden in plain view, pointed to the degradation of Black motherhood—and the exclusion of Black women’s reproductive needs in mainstream feminist and civil rights agendas.

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