David Pilgrim's Blog, Mention

Reading up on race? Here are more than 30 Michigan authors to check out

By Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio, NPR
Jul 2, 2020

Books about race continue to dominate best seller lists. Weeks after outrage spilled into the streets over the killing of George Floyd, readers – mostly white readers, it seems – are trying to learn more about the work of anti-racism. Clearly, as many have pointed out, reading alone is not enough.

But if reading books is going to be one way for people to start the work of becoming more conscious and active in anti-racism, one important question is what to read.  The internet is full of suggestions. And yet, one Black-owned bookstore in Boston reported that, among 20,000 new orders for books about race, 75 percent were for the same 10 titles. And some of those titles are now out of print. 

So if you want to go beyond that short list, here’s one idea to consider: Why not read local? Below, you’ll find a list of more than 30 authors with ties to Michigan who’ve written books about race. This list is by no means comprehensive, so if you have any other authors or titles to suggest, please drop us a note on social media, or email [email protected], and we’ll add your suggestion to the list. 

Authors are listed alphabetically by last name. 

Lisa Alexander

Associate Professor, Wayne State University

When Baseball Isn’t White, Straight, and Male: The Media and Difference in the National Pastime

Fred Arroyo

Professor, Middle Tennessee State University; Born in Three Rivers

Sown in Earth: Essays of Memory and Belonging

Michael Awkward

Professor, University of Michigan

Philadelphia Freedoms: Black American Trauma, Memory and Culture

April Baker-Bell

Associate professor, Michigan State University

Liguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy

Grace Lee Boggs
Legendary Detroit activist

[HEAR a remembrance of Grace Lee Boggs on Michigan Radio]

Living for Change: An Autobiography

The Next American Revolution

Herb Boyd

Journalist and author; Grew up in Detroit; Graduated from Wayne State University[

[HEAR Herb Boyd on Stateside]

Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination

Black Panthers for Beginners

Baldwin’s Harlem: A Biography of James Baldwin

Austin Channing Brown
Writer, speaker and producer from Michigan

[HEAR Austin Channing Brown on Same Same Different]

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Ruth Nicole Brown

Chairperson, African American and African Studies, Michigan State University

Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood

Bridget M. Davis

Novelist; Professor, Baruch College, CUNY; Born in Detroit

The World Acccording to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers

Lane Demas

Professor, Central Michigan University

Game of Privilege: An African American History of Golf

Integrating the Gridiron: Black Civil Rights and American College Football

Michael Eric Dyson

Author; Professor, Georgetown University; Born in Detroit

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

Debating Race

Larry and Sandy Feldman

Adjunct instructors, Lake Michigan College

Building Bridges Across the Racial Divide

Matthew L.M. Fletcher

Director, Indigenous Law and Policy Center, Michigan State University

HEAR Matthew L.M. Fletcher on Stateside

American Indian Education: Counternarratives in Racism, Struggle, and the Law

Lorna Goodison

Professor, University of Michigan; Poet Laureate of Jamaica

I am Becoming My Mother

From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island

Gordon Henry

Professor, Michigan State University

The Light People

Darlene Clark Hine
Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America (with Kathleen Thompson)

Hine Sight: Black Women and the Re-Construction of American History

Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890-1950

Aida Levy-Hussen

Associate Professor, University of Michigan

How to Read African American Literature: Post-Civil Rights Fiction and the Task of Interpretation

Randal Maurice Jelks

Professor, University of Kansas; From Grand Rapids

African Americans in the Furniture City: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Grand Rapids

Willie Jennings

Associate Professor, Yale Divinity School; Born and raised in Grand Rapids

[HEAR an extended interview with Willie Jennings on Michigan Radio]

The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race

Su’Ad Abdul Khabeer

Associate Professor, University of Michigan

Muslim Cool: Race Religion and Hip Hop in the United States

Karen R. Lacy

Associate Professor, Central Michigan University

Blue-Chip Black: Race, Class, and Status in the New Black Middle Class

Scott Richard Lyons

Associate Professor, University of Michigan

X-Marks: Native Signatures of Assent

Tiya Miles

Professor, Harvard University; Former professor, University of Michigan

[HEAR Tiya Miles on Stateside]

The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits

The Cherokee Rose, a Novel of Gardens & Ghosts

Elvis Mitchell

Nationally-known film critic; Born in Highland Park, graduated from Wayne State University

The Black List

Louis Moore

Associate Professsor, Grand Valley State University

We Will Win the Day: The Civil Rights Movement, the Black Athlete and the Quest for Equality

I Fight for a Living: Boxing and the Battle for Black Manhood, 1880-1915

Andre Perry

Brookings Institution Fellow; Founding Dean, College of Urban Education at Davenport University

[HEAR Andre Perry on Stateside]

Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities

Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now

Keewaydinoquay Peschel

Scholar, teacher, author, Anishinaabeg Elder of the Crane Clan; Born in Michigan

Keewaydinoquay, Stories from My Youth (Edited by Lee Boisvert)

David Pilgrim

Founder and Director of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University.

Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice

HEAR David Pilgrim on Stateside

Rochelle Riley
Director of Arts and Culture, city of Detroit; longtime Detroit Free Press columnist

[HEAR Rochelle Riley on Stateside]

The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery (edited by Rochelle Riley)

Todd E. Robinson

Professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Earned PhD at University of Michigan

A City Within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids Michigan

Kimberly Springer

Curator, Oral History Archives at Columbia University; Former Michigan Radio social media director; From Grand Rapids

[HEAR Let’s Review, a podcast hosted by Kimberly Springer and Jenn White]

Living for the Revolution: Black Feminist Organizations, 1968-1980

Ruby Tapia

Associate Professor, University of Michigan

American Pietàs: Visions of Race, Death and the Maternal

Aisha Sabatini Sloan

Visiting professor, University of Michigan

Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit

Divya Victor

Associate professor, Michigan State University



Lewis Walker

Former professor, Chair of Sociology Department, Western Michigan University

African Americans in Michigan (with Benjamin C. Wilson)

Black Eden: The Idlewild Community (with Benjamin C. Wilson)

Benjamin C. Wilson

Former professor, Western Michigan University

African Americans in Michigan (with Lewis Walker)

Black Eden: The Idlewild Community (with Lewis Walker)

The Rural Black Heritage Between Chicago and Detroit, 1850-1929

Michael Witgen

Professor, Director of the Native American Studies Program, University of Michigan

[HEAR Michael Witgen on Michigan Radio]

An Infinity of Nations: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America

Frank H. Wu

Former Dean, Wayne State University School of Law

Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White

Malcolm X

The autobiography of Malcolm X

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Check out David’s books:

Haste to Rise: A Remarkable Experience of Black Education during Jim Crow

Haste to Rise: A Remarkable Experience of Black Education during Jim Crow

Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors: Stories from the Jim Crow Museum

Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors_ Stories from the Jim Crow Museum

Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice

Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice

Back to David Pilgrim’s Author Page