Walter Street, III’s Recommended Reading Book List


This selection is in consideration of perennial critical issues confronting Blacks. This recommendation is guided by concerns domestic, within an international and historic context.

Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin promoted a principle of effective awareness that “past, present, future” form together a continuum. There can be no meaningful future without the past.

Bill Gates’ recent book on “How To Avoid A Climate Disaster” is third on the list. Black folks here and elsewhere are deeply impacted by the ravishes of environmental degradation: Environmental Racism. The effect is manifested upon life itself, economics, health, education. For 402 years Education has been considered a primary tool for liberation, survival and full citizenship.

The list is heavy with Black creatives because we along with the majority might not be fully aware of the prolific intellectual interest and development nurtured by our people. Africans transported here were not intellectually undeveloped or illiterate. Douglass as a teenager in Baltimore had the habit of picking up from the streets and gutters discarded scraps of newspapers, books and pamphlets in his quest in learning to read, write and to become informed of ideas and news of the day. People ignored this ignorant enslaved Negro child’s strange ways. He was probably using these scraps to stuff his shoes, pants, shirt to keep warm. Surprise!

1Frederick Douglass, Prophet of FreedomDavid W. BlightMost photographed American of the 19th century, radical enemy of slavery, anti-lynching, women’s suffrage
2When they call you a terrorist, a black lives matter memoirPatrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele, foreword by Angela Y. DavisNew generation leading for justice, equity, literacy
3How to Avoid a Climate DisasterBill GatesClimate Change (weirding) impacts Blacks domestically, internationally all levels: racism, economic, health
4RL’s DreamWalter MosleyBlack author. “Devil in the Blue Dress”
5No Name in the StreetJames BaldwinCurrently studied around the world
6Democracy in AmericaAlexis de TorquevilleFrench commentor on evolving U. S. scene. Observed slavery ever present over entire country.
7Southern Exposure, The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South SideLee Bey with forward by Amanda WilliamsChicago born & grown. Observer & authority on architecture.
8Caste, the Originals of Our DiscontentsIsabel WilkersonAuthor “Warmth of Other Suns”. Former New York Times reporter. The Great Migration.
9Underground RailroadColson WhiteheadAward winning author. New York Times best seller.
10To Be Young Gifted and Black, Lorraine Hansberry in her Own WordsAdapted by Robert NemiroffSouth side Chicago legacy playwright.
11Thomas Paine, Enlightenment, Revolution and the Birth of a NationCraig Nelson
12Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, Bound for the Promised LandKate Clifford Larson
13High Risers, Cabrini-Green and Fate of American Public HousingBen AustinDeep history of Chicag0’s near north side. Immigrant entry to the city, traditionally most diverse residential area.
14Our Time is NowStacey AbramsBrilliant current strategist, thought leader for Black empowerment, liberation.
15Lyrics of Lowly Life, the poetry of Paul Laurence DunbarPaul Laurence DunbarA Frederick Douglass disciple and observer of the Black seer. Eulogist of the master’s death.
16My Soul Has Grown Deep, Classics of Early African-American LiteratureEdited by John Edgar WidemanA choice survey of Black intellect & leadership.
17Barracoon, The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”Zora Neale Hurston, Edited by Deborah G. Plant with Foreword by Alice Walker1859 Africans brought as contraband into Mobile Bay aboard the Clotilda, recently located with plans to raise and restore.