This Moment in America:
A Southern Studies Resource List

On Friday, June 5, the Center published a letter to former, current, and incoming students, in the aftermath of the recent injustices resulting in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. In the letter we asked our students to “think seriously about ways in which [they] might become agents of change, using [their] training across the disciplines of sociology, cultural anthropology, history, politics, geography, literature, religion, economics, and documentary method to challenge the ideas behind prejudice and systemic social inequality, most immediately, those that make particular sectors of American society targets of racial violence and grossly inadequate healthcare.”

Faculty and staff at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture curated this list of articles, books, documentaries, oral history, music, photography projects, podcasts, and web resources to assist Southern Studies students and anyone willing to expand their knowledge of the history of anti-racism, race, and racism in America in order to recognize the multiple levels on which it afflicts this nation still. It is our hope that, in and out of the classroom, study provokes meaningful conversations and fuels change.

This list is by no means comprehensive; it is composed of resources recently on the minds of our faculty and staff.

If you would like to read a NOVEL that confronts the power of race in the United States, you might start here:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk
William Melvin Kelley, A Different Drummer
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing

If you would like to learn more about the HISTORY of race, race relations, and white supremacy, start here:
Carole Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow
Grace Elizabeth Hale, Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940
Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812
Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Tiya Miles, Tales of the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era
The New York Times, “1619” (podcast)
Scene on Radio, “Seeing White” (podcast)
Susan Nieman, Learning From the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil 
Candacy Taylor Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
James F. Allen, Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America
Clyde Woods, Development Arrested: The Blues and Plantation Power in the Mississippi Delta

If you’d like to start from a SOCIOLOGICAL angle, you might try:
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America
Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields, Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life
Zandria Robinson, This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South
James M. Thomas, Diversity Regimes: Why Talk is Not Enough to Fix Race Inequality at Universities

If you would like to read PERSONAL ACCOUNTS of the black experience in America, here are some suggestions:
Debra J. Dickerson, An American Story
W. Ralph Eubanks, The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South
W. Ralph Eubanks, Ever is a Long Time: A Journey into Mississippi’s Dark Past, a Memoir
Kiese Laymon, Heavy
Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi
Jesmyn Ward, ed., The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race
Albert Woodfox, Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope.

If you are interested in reading about the intersection of RACE and THE LAW or about RACE and MASS INCARCERATION in the United States, look here:
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Robert T. Chase, We Are Not Slaves: State Violence, Coerced Labor, and Prisoners’ Rights in Postwar America
Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?
Talitha LeFlouria, Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South
David Oshinsky, Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice
Victor Rios, Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy
Albert Woodfox, Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope.

If you are interested in the intersection of RACE and GENDER, try these resources:
Angela Davis, Women, Race, & Class
Crystal Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching
Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Ted Talk, “The Urgency of Intersectionality
Sarah Haley, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity
E. Patrick Johnson, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South–An Oral History
E. Patrick Johnson, Black. Queer. Southern. Women. An Oral History
Elizabeth Gillespie McRae, Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy

If you’d like to know more about the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, check here:
John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
Francçoise Hamlin, Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta After World War II
Danielle McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
Charles Marsh, God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights
Charles M. Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle
Jeanne Theoharis, A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

If you’d like more information about the intersection of RACE and AGRICULTURE, start here:
Pete Daniel, Dispossession: Discrimination Against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights
Vann R. Newkirk II, “The Great Land Robbery: The shameful story of how 1 million black families have been ripped from their farms” The Atlantic

If you’re interested in learning more about the nexus of RACE, PROTEST, and MUSIC, you might look here:
Living Blues #256 (August/September 2018) – Blues & Protest
Will Campbell, “Mississippi Magic”
Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Leroi Jones, Blues People: Negro Music in White America
Childish Gambino, “This is America”
Bob Dylan, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”
Bob Dylan, “Only a Pawn in Their Game”
The Staple Singers, “When Will We Be Paid”
Rhiannon Giddens, Freedom Highway
Our Native Daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell), Songs of Our Native Daughters
Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”
Little Brother Montgomery, “The First Time I Met You”
D’Angelo, Black Messiah
Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire
Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles
Charles Hughes, Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South
William Van De Burg, New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965-1975

If you’re drawn to POETRY, check out these volumes:
Robin Coste Lewis, Voyage of the Sable Venus
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric
Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard
Kevin Young, Brown
Hanif Abdurraqib, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much
Eve Ewing, Electric Arches

We can recommend these DOCUMENTARIES:
Counter Histories (from the Southern Foodways Alliance)
I Am Not Your Negro
Black Power Mixtape
Whose Streets?
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
What Happened, Miss Simone?
The House I Live In

When They See Us
Dear White People

Plus these ORAL HISTORY collections:
Joel Buchanan African American Oral History Archives, University of Florida Digital Archives, of particular note are Mississippi Freedom Project interviews with activists and participants in the freedom struggle of the 1960s Mississippi Delta and interviews from St. Augustine African American History Project.

Behind the Veil Project, Duke University highlights the voices of Black men and women who lived under Jim Crow segregation throughout the South.

History Makers, a nonprofit oral history archive based in Chicago, Illinois, their archives include voices of both well-known and everyday African Americans from all over the United States.

Finally, some WEB RESOURCES:
Amber Ruffin Shares a Lifetime of Traumatic Run-Ins With Police” (Late Night With Seth Myers)
The Black Radical Tradition
Color of Change
Equal Justice Initiative
Project South
Without Sanctuary

Last summer, we decided that the 2020 fall programming theme would be “Voting Rights and Community Activism.” Given recent events across the nation involving racial injustice and voter suppression in our region, we could not be more sure of the importance of continuing conversations centering these two topics. Please visit or email us if you would like to subscribe to our Center Events Newsletter for details on fall programming. Featured speakers include Dr. Carole Anderson, chair of African American Studies at Emory University and author of One Person, No Vote; Dr. Jelani Cobb, professor of journalism at Columbia University and regular writer for The New Yorker; and contributors to the forthcoming edited volume (UGA Press), Voter Suppression in U.S. Elections. We will also host opportunities to read along with or simply join conversations about recent fiction and non-fiction publications by Center faculty and by the 2020-21 Grisham Writer-in-Residence, Maurice Carlos-Ruffin. And much more!