Necessary Reading: Books to Celebrate Black History Month

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In our current political landscape, it’s more necessary now than ever to have a richer, deeper, and more nuanced understanding of race in the US. Books that offer a deep dive into subjects as wide-ranging as the intertwined histories of European expansionism and racism, African-American steelworkers in 1920s Indiana, a multiracial neighborhood in Queens, and the translations and reception abroad of a legendary black American poet’s work, can offer illuminating insight into the ways we think about and grapple with race today.

To that end, and to continue our celebration of Black History Month, here is a selection of just some of the books we’ve published over the years on race and African American history. Continue reading “Necessary Reading: Books to Celebrate Black History Month”

Necessary Reading: Books to Celebrate Black History Month

Excerpt: Whose Detroit? by Heather Ann Thompson

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Picketers at Detroit Police Headquarters protesting the fatal shooting of a black woman, July 13, 1963. Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University. (P. 39, Whose Detroit?)

Heather Ann Thompson recently received the Pulitzer Prize for her book Blood in the Water. She published Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City with Cornell University Press in 2001 with a revised edition in 2017. As part of our month-long focus on Black History Month, here is an excerpt from the Prologue of the 2017 edition.

Back in 2001, in the first printing of this book, I argued most forcefully that if one wanted really to comprehend the fate of America’s inner cities over the course of the postwar period, one had to begin by fully understanding what had happened in the Motor City. Detroit, I had maintained, was in fact ground zero for any scholar seeking to make sense of why cities across the nation that had seemed to be synonymous with economic opportunity and prosperity in the 1950s became, by the 1960s, the epicenter of countless rebellions for greater racial equality and, then, by the 1980s, bastions of crime and decay. Continue reading “Excerpt: Whose Detroit? by Heather Ann Thompson”

Excerpt: Whose Detroit? by Heather Ann Thompson