6 Books to Understand What Revolution Looks Like


Here are several books — all available at independent book stores — that document revolutionary actions to bring forth equity.

The Battle for Welfare Rights Politics and Poverty in Modern America By Felicia Kornbluh

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Often overlooked in the nation’s history of social movements is the National Welfare Rights Organization, an anti-poverty movement spearheaded by Black women who organized tens of thousands of low-income citizens across the nation to advocate for structural improvements in the nation’s welfare system. Although predominantly composed of poor Black women, NWRO’s impact spread across racial and socioeconomic lines because of its ideological belief that women and poor people deserved to be treated with “dignity and respect” and anti-capitalist analysis of the country’s economic system that perpetuated systematic inequalities. The welfare rights movement pioneered models of community-based organizing that were adopted by women’s rights movements, along with other social movements of the 1970s.

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective Edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

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Before professor Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” in 1989, a collective of radical Black feminists articulated the interwoven systems of oppression that includes race, class, and gender for Black women. These women were known as the Combahee River Collective, an influential social group prominent in the nation’s antiwar and feminist eras, who addressed existing social movements incapability to center the voices of Black women. In the edited version of their collective statement of beliefs, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Ph.D. interviewed elders of the CRC alongside well-known Black feminist activists of the contemporary generation in an inter-generational conversation about Black feminism and the steps needed to achieve Black liberation.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

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bell hooks wrote, “Indeed, all the great movements for social justice in our society have strongly emphasized a love ethic,” on page 11 of the aforementioned text to signify the importance of love not only in the nation’s social movements but also on the overall health and well-being of individuals. Throughout the text, the renowned scholar advised readers about the ramifications of a “loveless generation” on society’s future. Her argument towards a compassionate love is rooted in the restoration of a community that has divided itself along with man-made barriers, that maintained a hierarchical structure of power.

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown

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Described as “politics of healing and happiness that explores the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work,” pleasure activism is brown’s contribution to the scholarship of Black feminism. The Detroit-based doula/healer encouraged readers to view movements for social justice as an experience of pleasure, instead of communal feelings of sorrow and pain — a societal reflex to being subjugated to state violence. Activism is not a monolith. brown’s text incorporated a multi-dimensional approach in which individuals can bring forth orgasms in the erotic sense, and also in their communities and societies. This book is a multi-hyphenate journey for one’s mind, body, and spirit.

My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet

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Every generation inherits the previous aspirations, dreams, and hopes for an equitable future. Before we were born, predecessors prayed and fought for our sustained existence. Within us, lies the blood of known and unknown ancestors who strived to create you. Monet’s book of poetry is an ode to “freedom fighters,” the unsung heroes in our families, neighborhoods, and extended homes. American capitalism emphasizes the narrative of individualism, in order to distance marginalized people from each other, yet the collective notion of this text reminds individuals of their lineage, heritage, and delicate thread that interweaves the experiences of women of color.

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis

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Embedded in the nation’s cultural, political, and social institutions is the prison industrial complex, a capitalist-driven system of oppression where individuals from marginalized communities are removed of their autonomy and subjected to constant surveillance from agents of the state (law enforcement officials). A disproportionate amount of the nation’s prison population are individuals in need of social and human services, like housing, medical care, and mental health treatment; not as laborers for institutions and companies who utilize profits or fight forest fires like the state of California. Davis argues for the abolishing of prisons, in efforts to eliminate an insidious entity that maintains revenue on the continuous enslavement of marginalized people.



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