Books open up a world of infinite possibilities.
With every page turned, they offer endless opportunities for discovery, learning, and personal reflection. They can challenge our beliefs, cause us to question societal norms, and inspire us to think deeply about our own values and choices.
The books listed below have inspired, ignited, and informed my personal philosophy and professional development and approach. I hope these selections provoke the same self-reflection and personal growth I have gained.
The books that changed my life! Each one has inspired and motivated my personal growth. Most importantly, these stories, some true and some fiction, expanded my ability to see the humanity in others and better understand the world we all exist in.
The themes of Siddhartha are universal in that they are an account of a young person’s search for meaning — one that all readers can relate to. As Hesse skillfully takes us on a journey, he uses his poetic prose to challenge our preconceived notions of what a spiritual life and meaningful self-enrichment entail.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.t this item
Wright’s once controversial, now celebrated autobiography measures the raw brutality of the Jim Crow South against the sheer desperate will it took to survive as a black boy. One of the great American memoirs, Wright’s Black Boy is a poignant record of struggle and endurance—a seminal literary work that illuminates our own time.
This thinly fictionalized account of Claude Brown’s childhood as a hardened, streetwise criminal trying to survive the toughest streets of Harlem has been heralded as the definitive account of everyday life for the first generation of African Americans raised in the Northern ghettos of the 1940s and 1950s. Manchild in the Promised Land explores the plight of the Black man in America, fighting for his manhood within a social construct that fails to honor his basic humanity.
In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim and Power movement. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.
Originally published in 1990, Lakota Woman was a national best seller and winner of the American Book Award. It is a story of death, of determination against all odds, of the cruelties perpetuated against American Indians, and of the Native American struggle for rights. Working with Richard Erdoes, one of the twentieth century's leading writers on Native American affairs, Brave Bird recounts her difficult upbringing and the path of her fascinating life.
Just Mercy is an unforgettable account of Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative and one of his first cases representing Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
This "brutally powerful, mesmerizing story” (People) is an unflinchingly look into the abyss of slavery, from the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner. Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.
Things Fall Apart is a classic narrative about Africa's cataclysmic encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, Things Fall Apart explores one man's futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British political and religious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.
The lives of a sixteen-year-old Nigerian orphan and a well-off British woman collide in this page-turning #1 New York Times bestseller. Little Bee, is the story of a Nigerian refugee girl whose violent and courageous journey puts a stunning face on the worldwide refugee crisis.
The Water Dancer is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. From the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to dangerously idealistic movements in the North, Hiram is enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved. Through it all, his resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.
Baracoon illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade―abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States. In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell a firsthand
*Descriptions adapted from Amazon.com.
These books have proven to be invaluable professional references and guides for effective DEI facilitation and leadership. The authors provide expert insights, practical knowledge, and proven strategies to advance inclusive practices, education equity and social impact.
Cultural Proficiency helps us all establish a mindset and worldview for effectively describing and responding to inequities. Its inside-outside approach to leadership is grounded in the assumption that honest introspection is a requirement to leading equity-driven change.
Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems.
DEI Deconstructed analyzes how current methods and “best practices” leave marginalized people feeling frustrated and unconvinced of their leaders’ sincerity. Zheng offers pragmatic DEI approaches drawing from cutting-edge research on organizational change, evidence-based practices, and incisive insights from a DEI strategist they provide strategies to guide stakeholders at every level of an organization to become effective DEI change-makers.
*Descriptions adapted from Amazon.com.
These texts serve as essential DEI teaching tools. Each offers comprehensive frameworks, compelling narratives, and actionable strategies to foster understanding, advance equity, develop cultural competency, and cultivate inclusive organizational culture.
In How to be an Inclusive Leader, Jennifer Brown takes a deep dive into what it takes to be an inclusive leader and examines the challenges and mindsets that continue to hold many leaders back. Combining nearly two decades of professional DEI expertise with personal experience and reflection, she tackles complex topics such as identity, privilege, and systemic inequities.
In Cultivating Genius, Dr. Gholdy E. Muhammad presents a four-layered equity framework—one that is grounded in history and restores excellence in literacy education. This framework, which she names, Historically Responsive Literacy, was derived from the study of literacy development within 19th-century Black literacy societies.
*Descriptions adapted from Amazon.com.