2017 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola Ernest N. Morial Convention Center - Day 2

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The temperature is finally rising, which means prime park bench-reading weather is on the horizon. Here are five compelling reads to add to your book list this spring.

Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly About Racism in America by George Yancy

George Yancy 'Backlash' Book Cover (High-Res)

Source: Courtesy of Pubvendo / Courtesy of Pubvendo

What It’s About:

“When George Yancy penned an op-ed for The New York Times titled ‘Dear White America’ asking white Americans to confront the ways that they benefit from racism, he knew his article would be controversial. But he was unprepared for the flood of vitriol he received. In Backlash, Yancy expands upon the original article and chronicles the ensuing controversy as he seeks to understand what it was about the op-ed that created so much rage among so many white readers.” — via Amazon.com

What Folks Are Saying:

“George Yancy’s courageous appeal to White America ‘to confront the problem of whiteness; to cultivate a critical awareness of the specter of whiteness and white privilege that each one of you inherits’ elicited a remarkable range of responses, some hideous beyond words, some welcoming what he rightly called a ‘gift.’ This eloquent meditation on the events and their meaning calls on us, with piercing honesty, to think hard, and work hard, to excise the malignancy of white supremacy from our culture and our lives.” — Noam Chomsky

The Incredible True Story of Blondy Baruti: My Unlikely Journey from The Congo to Hollywood by Blondy Baruti

George Yancy 'Backlash' Book Cover (High-Res)

Source: Courtesy of Pubvendo / Courtesy of Pubvendo

What It’s About:

“The inspirational and true rags-to-riches story of how one young boy made it from the war-torn Congolese jungles to America and onto the silver screen, all the while facing extraordinary trials and twists of fate with an unwavering faith and unflagging spirit.” — via Amazon.com

What Folks Are Saying:

“A moving, genuinely uplifting tale that highlights how resilient the human spirit can be.” — Kirkus Review

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

Anthony Ray Hinton 'Sun Does Shine' Book Cover

Source: Courtesy of St. Martin’s Press / Courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

What It’s About:

“In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free…. With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.” — via Amazon.com

What Folks Are Saying:

“In this intense memoir, [Anthony Ray] Hinton recounts his three-decade nightmare: awaiting execution for crimes he didn’t commit.… Hinton’s life is one of inspiration, which he wonderfully relays here in bitingly honest prose.” — Publishers Weekly

What Truth Sounds Like: RFK, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America by Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson 'What Truth Sounds Like' Book Cover

Source: Courtesy of St. Martin’s Press / Courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

What It’s About:

What Truth Sounds Like exists at the tense intersection of the conflict between politics and prophecy—of whether we embrace political resolution or moral redemption to fix our fractured racial landscape. The future of race and democracy hang in the balance.” — via Amazon.com

What Folks Are Saying:

“Michael Eric Dyson has finally written the book I always wanted to read. I had the privilege of attending the meeting he has insightfully written about, and it’s as if he were a fly on the wall. Not only does he capture the spirit and substance of our gathering, but he brilliantly teases out the implications of that historic encounter for us today. What Truth Sounds Like is a tour de force of intellectual history and cultural analysis, a poetically written work that calls on all of us to get back in that room and to resolve the racial crises we confronted more than fifty years ago.” — Harry Belafonte

How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation by Maureen Johnson

Maureen Johnson 'How I Resist' Book Cover

Source: Courtesy of St. Martin’s Press / Courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

What It’s About:

“An all-star collection of essays about activism and hope, edited by bestselling YA author Maureen Johnson. Now, more than ever, young people are motivated to make a difference in a world they’re bound to inherit. They’re ready to stand up and be heard—but with much to shout about, where they do they begin? What can I do? How can I help? How I Resist is the response and a way to start the conversation.” – via Amazon.com

What Folks Are Saying:

“[Maureen Johnson] has done an exceptional job calling on different voices to share their wisdom and thoughts on making a difference.” — School Library Journal

ICYMI, here’s what else we can’t wait to read this year.

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