Black in America
A Broadview Topics Reader
  • Publication Date: June 14, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554814282 / 1554814286
  • 544 pages; 6" x 9"

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Black in America

A Broadview Topics Reader

  • Publication Date: June 14, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554814282 / 1554814286
  • 544 pages; 6" x 9"

A second edition of Black in America is forthcoming in spring 2024.

Black in America samples the breadth of non-fiction writing on African American experiences in the United States. The emphasis is on twenty-first-century authors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Claudia Rankine, and Roxane Gay, but a substantial representation of vitally important writing from other eras is also included, from Olaudah Equiano and Sojourner Truth to James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker; in all there are over 50 selections. Selections are arranged by author in rough chronological order; the book also includes alternative tables of contents listing material by thematic subject and by genre and rhetorical style. A headnote, explanatory notes, and discussion questions facilitate student engagement with each piece.

A percentage of the revenue from this book’s sales will be donated to two organizations: Equal Justice Initiative and Color of Change.

For fall 2020, we have added to the companion website materials relating to the extraordinary sequence of events sparked by the police murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, and the subsequent protests.


“An accessible and lively collection, Black in America is an ethical reader of African American culture, experience, and writing—forming a continuous dialogue about protest, place, and rhetorical frameworks of expression in relation to raced experiences of America. Arranged chronologically for simplicity, the anthology also provides alternative tables of contents to suggest dynamic pairings of texts. From James Baldwin to Teju Cole; Anna Julia Cooper to bell hooks; from anthems to hip hop; Black Power to Black Panther; Malcolm X to #MeToo, historically significant texts are brought into the company of contemporary writers, thinkers, and events in this au courant collection. It will be a highly useful anthology for the twenty-first century classroom.” — Noelle Morrissette, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Black in America is an intellectually exciting anthology of analytical, persuasive and personal essays, biographical excerpts, blogs, film reviews, and other writings on the African American Experience in the United States. It is designed for teaching undergraduate students in Writing and Rhetoric courses and students in Introduction to Black Studies courses. The anthology features contemporary works, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘The Case for Reparations’ and Carvell Wallace’s ‘Why Black Panther Is a Defining Moment for Black America,’ as well as canonical old favorites from the Black Intellectual Tradition, such as W.E.B. Du Bois’s critique of Booker T. Washington and Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘How It Feels to Be Colored Me.’ Each selection is preceded by a captivating introduction, and at the end of each selection, there are thought-provoking questions to prompt students to critically engage the ideas in the text as well as to focus students on the text’s rhetorical strategies and stylistics. Given the global diversity of the twenty-first century, some questions—about comparative cultural practices, for instance—are directed to international students. There are brief, succinctly written explanatory footnotes, and there is a companion website with background information about particular phrases and ideas alluded to in a given selection. To accommodate diverse teaching emphases, there are three versions of the anthology’s Table of Contents: one arranged by historical chronology; one by genre and rhetorical category; and the third by subject. Indeed, the editorial team seems to have thought of everything! For teacher-scholars in Composition Studies and African American Studies, Black in America is the text you have been waiting for.” — Geneva Smitherman, Michigan State University

Black in America is an outstanding contribution that takes the reader on a journey from the mid-nineteenth century to present day, through the lives and experiences African Americans in the United States. This critical work is a tribute to those who sacrificed their own welfare and often their lives to resist oppression and promote positive change.”— Sheila T. Gregory, Clark Atlanta University

Contents by Subject
Contents by Genre and Rhetorical Category
Suggested Pairs and Groups

Olaudah Equiano

  • from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

Sojourner Truth

  • Speech Delivered at the Akron, Ohio, Convention on Women’s Rights, 1851

Frederick Douglass

  • from Fourth of July Oration

Harriet Jacobs

  • from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Seven Years Concealed

Jordan Anderson

  • Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master

Anna Julia Cooper

  • from A Voice from the South

Booker T. Washington

  • Speech Delivered at the Cotton States and International Exposition, 18 September 1895

James Weldon Johnson

  • Lift Every Voice and Sing

Ida B. Wells

  • from Lynch Law in America
  • from Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases

Pauline Hopkins

  • from Hon. Frederick Douglass

W.E.B. Du Bois

  • Of Our Spiritual Strivings [from The Souls of Black Folk]
  • from Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others [from The Souls of Black Folk]

The Niagara Movement

  • The Niagara Movement’s Declaration of Principles, 1905

Claude McKay

  • If We Must Die

Langston Hughes

  • The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

Alice Dunbar-Nelson

  • The Negro Woman and the Ballot

Zora Neale Hurston

  • How It Feels to Be Colored Me

James Baldwin

  • Stranger in the Village
  • If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?

Frantz Fanon

  • from The Wretched of the Earth

Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Letter from Birmingham Jail

Malcolm X

  • from The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Bayard Rustin

  • “Black Power” and Coalition Politics

Shirley Chisholm

  • Equal Rights for Women

Alice Walker

  • In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: The Creativity of Black Women in the South

Audre Lorde

  • The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action
  • Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism

Howard Zinn

  • from A People’s History of the United States

bell hooks

  • Coming to Class Consciousness [from Where We Stand]

Malcolm Gladwell

  • None of the Above: What I.Q. Doesn’t Tell You about Race

Barack Obama

  • A More Perfect Union

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  • The Color of an Awkward Conversation

Michelle Alexander

  • from The New Jim Crow

Adilifu Nama

  • from Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes

Mia McKenzie

  • White Silence

Alisha Knight

  • from “To Aid in Everyway Possible in Uplifting the Colored People of America”: Hopkins’s Revisionary Definition of African American Success

Bettina Love

  • from Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South

Darnell L. Moore

  • Black, LGBT, American: A Search for Sanctuaries

Ta-Nehisi Coates

  • The Case for Reparations
  • from The First White President

Roxane Gay

  • The Politics of Respectability

Claudia Rankine

  • from Citizen: An American Lyric

Bryan Stevenson

  • from Just Mercy

Nikole Hannah-Jones

  • School Segregation: The Continuing Tragedy of Ferguson

Teju Cole

  • A True Picture of Black Skin

Frances Gateward and John Jennings

  • from The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art

Dawn Marie Dow

  • The Deadly Challenges of Raising African American Boys: Navigating the Controlling Image of the “Thug”

Brent Staples

  • The Movie Get Out Is a Strong Antidote to the Myth of “Postracial” America

Mitch Landrieu

  • Truth: Remarks on the Removal of Confederate Monuments in New Orleans

Cameron Glover

  • No, Black-Only Safe Spaces Are Not Racist

Zadie Smith

  • Getting In and Out: Who Owns Black Pain?

Jonathan Capehart

  • Taking a Knee with Colin Kaepernick and Standing with Stephen Curry against Trump

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

  • The Politicization of Everything: Everybody Loses in the Trump-NFL Brawl over the National Anthem

Audra D.S. Burch

  • from The #MeToo Moment: After Alabama, Black Women Wonder, What’s Next?

Shanita Hubbard

  • Russell Simmons, R. Kelly, and Why Black Women Can’t Say #MeToo

Carvell Wallace

  • Why Black Panther Is a Defining Moment for Black America

Biographical Notes
Permissions Acknowledgments

Jessica Edwards teaches critical race studies and composition studies at the University of Delaware.

  • — A thematic reader of expository prose on current and historical issues facing African Americans
  • — Headnotes, explanatory notes, and discussion questions included with each selection
  • — Equal representation of male and female authors
  • — Coverage of a wide range of prose genres including
    • academic articles
    • journalism
    • blog posts
    • lyric essays
    • memoir
    • speeches
  • — Chronological organization
  • — Alternative tables of contents organized by subject matter and/or rhetorical category
  • — Additional set of explanatory notes intended for students who are new to the United States and/or speak English as an additional language
  • — Several paired selections in which opposing or complementary viewpoints are expressed
  • — Additional online readings addressing the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 and related events

The companion website offers more than thirty recommended readings related to the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and their cultural and historical context. It also provides a second set of explanatory notes that go beyond the footnotes included in the bound book. These notes are designed to be of particular help to students who have limited familiarity with American culture, and/or students who have learned English as an additional language—though the extra notes may offer support to any student.