Reading about civil rights, racism, multiracial society and how to be an advocate for change

It’s no secret that our film, “Crossing the River,” addresses a larger story than just what the characters experience.  It’s inspired by a true story, a story that too often repeats itself across America.  Hate groups are on the rise in the United States.  The recent tragedy of the massacre of Sikhs in a gurdwara in Wisconsin has once again brought hate crime to the national fore.  Fortunately though, more press coverage is being given to hate crimes, so we know about them more quickly and can try to counteract the rise of hate.

Through our film, we are engaging in social action, and through the building of a community around “Crossing the River,” we are connecting with antiracist groups and individuals involved in racial justice and social justice.  This film is just part of our effort to be advocates for antiracism and justice, and it includes reading about those who came before us, the ideas of the players on the antiracist organizing scene right now, and ways to become even more involved in advocating for a more just, more tolerant, and more pluralistic world.

So these are some of the books we’re reading now and adding to our reading list.  Will  you join us in reading and sharing information with your community?  Have you read any of these books — how helpful have they been to you?

Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change is a new book by Congressman John Lewis who is one of the original Freedom Riders and former Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  Congressman Lewis has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1986.

Excerpt from the book cover:

In Across That Bridge, Congressman Lewis draws from his experience as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement to offer timeless guidance to anyone seeking to live virtuously and transform the world. His wisdom, poignant recollections, and powerful ideas will inspire a new generation to usher in a freer, more peaceful society. The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis have never been more relevant. Now, more than ever, this nation needs a strong and moral voice to guide an engaged population through visionary change.

You can listen to an interview with Congressman Lewis on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR from May 2012 by clicking here.

Check out Across That Bridge at by clicking here.

MIXED: Portraits of Multiracial Kids is a book by photographer and professor, Kip Fulbeck, who teaches performative studies and video at the University of California Santa Barbara.  Our film, “Crossing the River,” includes a multiracial family and a biracial girl, and we feel this book is a unique celebration of multiracial society.

From a description of the book:

At a time when 7 million people in the U.S. alone identify as belonging to more than one race, interest in issues of multiracial identity is rapidly growing. Overflowing with uplifting elementsincluding charming images, handwritten statements from the children, first-person text from their parents, a foreword by Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng (President Obama’s sister), and an afterword by international star Cher(who is part Cherokee)this volume is an inspiring vision of the future.

Check out MIXED at by clicking here.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and other conversations about race is a bestselling book by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, trained clinical psychologist and President of Spelman College, an historically Black liberal arts college for women in Atlanta, Georgia.

From a description of the book:

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see black youth seated together in the cafeteria. Of course, it’s not just the black kids sitting together-the white, Latino, Asian Pacific, and, in some regions, American Indian youth are clustered in their own groups, too. The same phenomenon can be observed in college dining halls, faculty lounges, and corporate cafeterias. What is going on here? Is this self-segregation a problem we should try to fix, or a coping strategy we should support? How can we get past our reluctance to talk about racial issues to even discuss it? And what about all the other questions we and our children have about race?

Check out this book at by clicking here.

Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justiceis a landmark work of famed activist and educator, Paul Kivel.  His work focuses on social justice, antiracism, preventing violence, and educating people on how to combat various forms of discrimination.  The late, renowned social justice activist and scholar, Howard Zinn, provided the foreword.

From a description of the book:

In 2008 the United States elected its first black president, and recent polls show that only twenty-two percent of white people in the United States believe that racism is a major societal problem. On the surface, it may seem to be in decline. However, the evidence of discrimination persists throughout our society. Segregation and inequalities in education, housing, health care, and the job market continue to be the norm. Post 9/11, increased insecurity and fear have led to an epidemic of the scapegoating and harassment of people of color.

Uprooting Racism offers a framework for understanding institutional racism. It provides practical suggestions, tools, examples, and advice on how white people can intervene in interpersonal and organizational situations to work as allies for racial justice.

Check out Uprooting Racism at by clicking here.

Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School is edited by Dr. Mica Pollock, an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.  A longtime scholar dealing with issues of racism, she is also the winner of the Gustavus Myers Award in 2008 for this book.  The award is presented to an outstanding book and author that advance human rights and actions toward a just society.  (Update: Dr. Pollock is now Professor of Education Studies and Director of the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at the University of California, San Diego.)

From a description of the book:

Which acts by educators are “racist” and which are “antiracist”? How can an educator constructively discuss complex issues of race with students and colleagues? In Everyday Antiracism leading educators deal with the most challenging questions about race in school, offering invaluable and effective advice. Contributors including Beverly Daniel Tatum, Sonia Nieto, and Pedro Noguera describe concrete ways to analyze classroom interactions that may or may not be “racial,” deal with racial inequality and “diversity,” and teach to high standards across racial lines.

Check out Everyday Racism at by clicking here.

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