A New Freedom Summer and Beyond Reading List

After a long hiatus, I had to return to what I’ve often called “my poor neglected blog.” This is in direct response to the events of February-June 2020. In these months, Americans have learned of people who lived relatively ordinary lives who were loved within their families and communities; but, whom considerable parts of America and the world had never heard of: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, David McAtee. The list is long when we look before early 2020. These people’s tragic deaths come in an era of a vast majority of people having video capabilities in their pockets due to the advances made in cell phone technology. Social media, available in those same cell phones, allows people to spread the news around the world. This November marks eight years that I discovered one of my young cousins had been murdered in Florida in a situation that did not involve the police; but, still involved white supremacy. As a Black person, the repetitive nature of these recent killings has made me think of those who read newspapers in the late 1800s-early 1900s and read routinely of lynchings. As a historian, I hear echoes of the voices of the past in the protests of today. Those voices, including the anguish of families and victims themselves, whisper as loudly as leaves crunching beneath our feet in the winter.


What to do? I have watched videos and had conversations with family, friends, and colleagues. However, it is social media where much discussion happens, which I have observed or participated in. Social media can be a place of negativity; but it can also be a place exposing what people know, do not know, want to know, and most importantly—need to know. Thus, like the Ferguson Syllabus developed after the murder of Mike Brown and the #Charlestonsyllabus developed after the murder of the worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME Zion Church, I feel it important to share a list of sources for people of all backgrounds who are interested in the struggles, successes, failures of Black people to be treated with dignity and humanity.


This is in no way intended to be an exhaustive list of every source every written or crafted about the experience of Africans and their descendants (of which I am one) in the United States of America. It does not touch upon the experiences of Africans and their descendants in most of the world including the continent of Africa. However, I hope this will provide context, stories, and provoke discussion among family, friends, and strangers about the experiences of those in the past and how we all have been shaped by them in our present. It is up to us to take these events and the personalities of the past to create a different, brighter future. It is also up to us to decide to cast aside those things and not be perplexed when those of us who know: will say: “No, that’s not true/right.”

The title for this post is inspired from rising temperatures across the United States at this moment and looking back to Freedom Summer when white Northerners came to join Black Southerners in Mississippi register people in the south. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, scroll below and you’ll find sources for that and more!



Daina Ramey Berry, The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation

Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States

Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie M. Harris, editors, Sexuality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas

Andrew Billingsley, Yearning to Breathe Free: Robert Smalls of South Carolina and His Families

David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

The Church in the Southern Black Community https://docsouth.unc.edu/church/

Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery https://www.daacs.org/

Clifton Ellis and Rebecca Ginsburg, editors, Cabin, Quarters, Plantation: Architecture and Landscapes of North American Slavery

John Hope Franklin and Evelyn Higginbotham, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, 9th edition

John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation

James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860

Kate Clifford Larson, Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman Portrait of an American Hero

Ned and Constance Sublette, The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry

Manisha Sinha, The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition

John Michael Vlach, Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery

Deborah Gray White, Ar’n’t I A Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South (Revised Edition)


Colonial period (1600-1783):


The Book of Negroes available online at https://novascotia.ca/archives/Africanns/BN.asp

Erica A. Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge [for teens/adults]

Erica A. Dunbar, Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington’s Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away [young readers]

Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia

Philip D. Morgan, Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry

Sowande Mustakeem, Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage

Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: Britain, The Slaves, and the American Revolution

Eric Robert Taylor, If We Must Die: Shipboard Insurrections in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade

Peter H. Wood, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion

A New Nation (1783-1830):


Ira Berlin, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South

Matthew Clavin, Aiming for Pensacola: Fugitive Slaves on the Atlantic and Southern Frontiers

Digital Doorway at Montpelier https://digitaldoorway.montpelier.org/

Digital Library on American Slavery https://library.uncg.edu/slavery/

Douglas R. Egerton, Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America

Douglas R. Egerton, He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey

Douglas R. Egerton, Gabriel’s Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802

Barbara J. Heath, Hidden Lives: The Archaeology of Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest

The Hermitage-Slavery https://thehermitage.com/learn/mansion-grounds/slavery/

Tera W. Hunter, Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century

Tiya Miles, The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story

Michael Tadman, Speculators And Slaves: Masters, Traders, And Slaves In The Old South

Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia: 1772-1832

Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons


The Expansion of Slavery and Resistance to It (1830-1860):


1853 Richmond and Its Slave Market http://dsl.richmond.edu/richmond3d/

Allen Austin, Origins of the Dred Scott Case: Jacksonian Jurisprudence and the Supreme Court, 1837–1857

Ira Berlin and Barbara J. Fields, editors Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War

Richard J.M. Blackett, The Captive’s Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the Politics of Slavery

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938 available online at https://www.loc.gov/collections/slave-narratives-from-the-federal-writers-project-1936-to-1938/about-this-collection/

Glenn David Brasher, The Peninsula Campaign & the Necessity of Emancipation: African Americans & the Fight for Freedom

Alfred L. Brophy, University, Court, and Slave: Pro-Slavery Thought in Southern Colleges and Courts and the Coming of Civil War

Drew Gilpin Faust, The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South, 1830–1860

Eric Foner, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad

Mary E. Frederickson and Delores M. Walters, editors, Gendered Resistance: Women, Slavery, and the Legacy of Margaret Garner

Sydney Howard Gay, Record of Fugitives https://exhibitions.library.columbia.edu/exhibits/show/fugitives

Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household

Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”

Martha S. Jones, Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South

Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market

Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams

Anthony E. Kaye, Joining Places: Slave Neighborhoods in the Old South

Cheryl LaRoche, Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance

Gerda Lerner, The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Women’s Rights and Abolition

Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll, Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color

Maurie D. McInnis, Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade

Amrita Myers, Forging Freedom: Black Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston

North American Slave Narratives available online at https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/

National Park Service, Network to Freedom, Fighting for Freedom: Lewis Hayden and the Underground Railroad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xuk0obth4Qs

Omar Ibn Said Collection, the only known surviving Muslim American Slave Autobiography https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-19-004/only-known-surviving-muslim-american-slave-autobiography-goes-online-at-the-library-of-congress/2019-01-15/

Todd L. Savitt, Medicine and Slavery: The Diseases and Health Care of Blacks in Antebellum Virginia

Marie Jenkins Schwartz, Birthing a Slave: Motherhood and Medicine in the Antebellum South

William Still, The Underground Railroad, available online at https://books.google.com/books?id=KD9LAAAAYAAJ&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

Hank Trent, The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color


The American Civil War Era (1860-1865):


Stephen V. Ash, The Black Experience in the Civil War South

Linda Barnickel, Milliken’s Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory

David S. Cecelski, The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway & The Slaves’ Civil War

Charles B. Dew, Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissoners and the Causes of the Civil War

William A. Dobak, Freedom by the Sword: The U.S. Coored Troops, 1862-1867, https://history.army.mil/html/books/030/30-24/CMH_Pub_30-24.pdf

Jim Downs, Sick From Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction

Douglas R. Egerton, Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments That Redeemed America

Eric Foner, Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

Barbara Gannon, The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic

Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers

Thavolia Glymph, The Women’s Fight: The Civil War’s Battles for Home, Freedom, and Nation

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Army Life in a Black Regiment available online at https://archive.org/details/armylifeinblackr00higg_0

Kevin Levin, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

Abraham Lincoln, The Emancipation Proclamation available online at https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured-documents/emancipation-proclamation#:~:text=President%20Abraham%20Lincoln%20issued%20the,and%20henceforward%20shall%20be%20free.%22

William A. Link, Roots of Secession: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia

Jaime Martinez, Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South

W. Caleb McDaniel, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform

Kelly D. Mezurek, For Their Own Cause:  The 27th United States Colored Troops

James M. Paradis, Strike the Blow for Freedom: The 6th United States Colored Infantry in the Civil War

Edwin S. Redkey, A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army, 1861-1865

Richard M. Reid, Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina’s Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era

Amy Murrell Taylor, Embattled Freedom: Journeys Through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps

Barbara Tomblin, Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy

Visualizing Emancipation http://dsl.richmond.edu/emancipation/

Jonathan W. White, Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)


Reconstruction and Redemption (1861-1896):


Edward J. Blum, Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865-1898

Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, (1892 edition) https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/dougl92/menu.html

W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America

Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877

Hilary Green, Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools In The Urban South, 1865-1890

Matthew Harper, The End of Days: African American Religion and Politics in the Age of Emancipation

Caroline E. Janney, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation

Leon Litwack, Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery

Gerard N. Magliocca, American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment

Heather Andrea Williams, Help Me Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery

Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery available online at http://informationwanted.org/


Jim Crow and the Early Civil Rights Movement: (1896-1950):


1921 Tulsa Race Massacre https://www.tulsahistory.org/exhibit/1921-tulsa-race-massacre/?fbclid=IwAR3Ez3L1BKdUk0jtiE_w4c05i8s22_neVvobl7AExDZYcPOe_zWh3cPxi9U

Ann Field Alexander, Race Man: The Rise and Fall of the “Fighting Editor,” John Mitchell Jr.

A’Lelia Bundles, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker

Crystal Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching

Tracey A. Fitzgerald, The National Council of Negro Women and the Feminist Movement, 1935–1975

Shennette Garrett-Scott, Banking on Freedom: Black Women in U.S. Finance Before the New Deal

Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950

Dorothy Height, Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir.

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920

Nathan Huggins, Harlem Renaissance

Blair Murphy Kelley, Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson

Leon Litwack, Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow

Tim Madigan, The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=5/39.1/-94.58

Redlining Richmond http://dsl.richmond.edu/holc/pages/home

Mark Roman Schultz, The Rural Face of White Supremacy

John Szwed, Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth

Douglas Smith, Managing White Supremacy: Race, Politics, and Citizenship in Jim Crow

Ida B. Wells, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases available online at https://archive.org/details/southernhorrors14975gut

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States available online at https://archive.org/details/theredrecord14977gut

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of  His life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics available online at https://archive.org/details/mobruleinneworle14976gut

Kidada Williams, They Left Great Marks on Me: African American Testimonies of Racial Violence from Emancipation to World War I

C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow


The Televised Civil Rights Movement and Massive Resistance (1950-1968):


Raymond Arsenault, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Earnest N. Bracey, Fannie Lou Hamer: The Life of a Civil Rights Icon

J. Michael Butler, Beyond Integration: The Black Freedom Struggle in Escambia County, Florida 1960-1980

Digital SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] Gateway https://snccdigital.org/

Margaret Edds, e Face the Dawn: Oliver Hill, Spottswood Robinson, and the Legal Team That Dismantled Jim Crow

Freedom Riders (documentary) https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/freedomriders/

Freedom Summer (documentary) https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/freedomsummer/

Lance Hill, The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement

Hasan Jeffries, Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt

Ben Keppel, Brown v. Board and the Transformation of American Culture

Coretta Scott King, Rev. Dr. Barabara Reynolds, Coretta: My Life, My Love, My Legacy

Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can’t Wait

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail available online at https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

Phyl Newbeck, Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving

Renewing Inequality http://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/renewal/#view=0/0/1&viz=cartogram

Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space

Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975

Mary Stanton, From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo

Akinyele Umoja, We Will Shoot Back Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement

Malcolm X and Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X


The Aftermath of the Televised Civil Rights Movement and Massive Resistance (1968-1990):

Curtis J. Austin, Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party

Stokley Carmichael, Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael

Sewell Chan, “Marsha P. Johnson: A transgender pioneer and activist who was a fixture of Greenwich Village street life”

Angela Davis, If They Come in the Morning…:Voices of Resistance

Angela Davis, Angela Davis: An Autobiography

Ashley D. Farmer, Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era

Happy Birthday, Marsha! (short documentary streaming through Amazon) http://www.happybirthdaymarsha.com/

Kevin Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism

Matthew D. Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South

Kevin Mumford, Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis

Pauli Murray, Pauli Murray: The Autobiography of a Black Activist, Feminist, Lawyer, Priest and Poet

Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

William L. Van Deburg, New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965-1975


How We Remember and Commemorate (or fail to):

 Emmanuel Dabney, Beth Parnicza, Kevin Levin, “Interpreting Race, Slavery, and United States Colored Troops at Civil War Battlefields,” Civil War History, Volume 62, Issue 2, June 2016, pages 131-148.

Jennifer Eichstedt and Stephen Small, Representations of Slavery: Race and Ideology in Southern Plantation Museums

Kristin Gallas and James DeWolf Perry, editors, Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites

James O. and Lois E. Horton, Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory

Antoinette T. Jackson, Speaking for the Enslaved: Heritage Interpretation at Antebellum Plantation Sites

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

Tiya Miles, Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era

Paul A. Shackel, Memory in Black and White: Race, Commemoration, and the Post-Bellum Landscape

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History

Stephanie E. Yuhl, A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston




Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “A New Freedom Summer and Beyond Reading List

  1. Martha Katz-Hyman

    Thanks for compiling this bibliography, which is so comprehensive and so sorely needed. From the material culture side, I offer the encyclopedia that Kym Rice and I edited as an additional source.

    Martha B.Katz-Hyman and Kym S. Rice, The World of a Slave: Encyclopedia of the Material Life of Slaves in the United States. 2 vol. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011,

  2. Pat Young

    Great lists. Thanks

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