Books on social justice + race recommended by Charleston bookstores

Antiracist books | Photo via @buxtonbooks_chs

Hey Charleston, Katie here. As a white woman, I cannot and will not claim to understand the challenges that the black community face daily because of the color of their skin. It is because of this, however, that there are resources out there to help educate + activate people of all ages and races on the crucial topics of racism and social justice. 

Listed below are some book recommendations from local bookstores that aim to do just that: provide dialogue, stories + conversations about race, privilege, and social justice.

We Are Charleston by Herb Frazier, Dr. Bernard Edward Powers, Jr. + Marjory Wentworth


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“…A probing account of and an insightful meditation on what happened to nine people who got caught being black and trying to be Christian on a warm night in Charleston. This unsentimental yet sensitive book will become a very important part of the way that we remember and honor those nine unique individuals. It will also become an indispensable part of the way that we try to understand the spiritual, racial, social and political meaning of a tragic moment in a long history that we all share.” –Reginald F. Hildebrand, associate professor of African American Studies & History at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindnessby Michelle Alexander | “…The book gives eloquent and urgent expression to deep feelings that the criminal justice system is stacked against [African Americans].” –Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times

Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and the Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy” by Ethan J. Kytle + Blain Roberts


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“‘Denmark Vesey’s Garden’ reveals that the long struggle over how Americans remember salvery has been inseparable from the long struggle for racial justice.” Ibram X. Kendi, author of “Stamped from the Beginning”

White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo | “White fragility is the secret ingredient that makes racial conversations so difficult and achieving racial equity even harder. But by exposing it and showing us all – including white folks – how it operates and how it hurts us, individually and collectively, Robin DiAngelo has performed an invaluable service. An indispensable volume for understanding one of the most important (and yet rarely appreciated) barriers to achieving racial justice.” –Tim Wise, author of “White Like Me: Reflection on Race from a Privileged Son” 

So You Want to Talk About Race” by Iljeoma Oluo | “‘So You Want to Talk About Race’ is warm and foundational enough for people to begin their journey to understanding racism in America, and thought-provoking and challenging enough for people who believe themselves to be well-versed on the subject. In short, it’s for everyone. Ijeoma’s voice cuts through all the noise and stays with you.” –Emily V. Gordon, co-writer of “The Big Sick”

Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates | “Hailed by Toni Morrison as ‘required reading,’ a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by ‘the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race.’” –Rolling Stone


Here are some recommendations on books for educating children: 



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Not Quite Snow White” by Ashley Franklin

Equality’s Call” by Deborah Diesen

From the Desk of Zoe Washington” by Janae Marks

Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice” by Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne + Olivia Gatwood 

The Power of Her Pen” by Lesa Cline-Ransome


Where to find them locally:

Turning Page Bookshop, 216 St. James Ave. Suite F, Goose Creek | This bookshop, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary on Monday, is Charleston’s only black-owned bookstore. It was started by two best friends, Valinda Miller + Arrylee Satterfield, as “a way to spread their love for a good book and give back to their community.” 

Itinerant Literate Books, 4824 Chateau Ave N, Charleston

Blue Bicycle Books, 420 King St.

Buxton Books, 160 King St.

ProTip: It’s recommended to call to check book availability.