Main Content

UUA Common Read

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. 2011. The New Jim Crow is the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Common Read for 2012-2013. Racial profiling, criminalization, and mass incarceration of African-Americans constitute today’s legal system for institutionalized racism, discrimination, and exclusion. Dr. Michelle Alexander, civil rights advocate, litigator, and scholar exposes today’s racial caste system and how to resist it.

Unitarian Universalist History and Theology

  • Soul Work: Anti-racist Theologies in Dialogue. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, Nancy Palmer-Jones. 2003.*
    Papers and discussion transcripts from the UUA Consultation on Theology and Racism held in Boston in 2001. Addresses such questions as: What theological or philosophical beliefs bind us together in our shared struggle against racism? What are the costs of racism, for both oppressors and oppressed?
  • The Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). Victor Carpenter. 2004.
    A look back at the conflict between African American and white UUs that exposed deep tensions which remain with us today. In this personal and provocative book, Carpenter (a UU minister since 1958) raises challenges that go to the heart of liberal religion.
  • The Charge of the Chalice: The Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church Growth & Diversity Story. John Thomas Crestwell, Jr. 2007.
    The story of a small church that went from 8 percent diversity to nearly 40 percent in six years, and from one white minister to black and white co-ministers and then back to a single ministry model with the congregation's first African American solo minister.
  • Call to Selma: Eighteen Days of Witness. Richard D. Leonard. 2002.*
    In 1965 Rev. Martin Luther King appealed to clergy across the nation to come to Selma, Alabama, and join protestors in their struggle for voting rights. More than 200 Unitarian Universalists responded, including about one-fifth of all UU ministers. Reverend Richard Leonard answered Dr. King's call and his journal, along with the recollections of others who shared the journey, presents Selma as a pivotal point in the advancement of civil rights, and a defining moment for Unitarian Universalism.
  • Been in the Storm So Long. Mark D. Morrison-Reed, edited by Jacqui James. 1991.*
    This stirring volume features more than 40 selections from the spirited voices of 29 African-Americans. Contributors include David H. Eaton, Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, Rosemary Bray McNatt, Thandeka, Egbert Etherlred Brown and more.
  • Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Mark D. Morrison-Reed. 1980.*
    Portraits of racism in liberal religion tell the stories of two pioneering black ministers; including accounts of some of today's more integrated UU congregations and biographical notes on past and present black Unitarian, Universalist and UU ministers.
  • In Between: Memoirs of an Integration Baby. Mark D. Morrison-Reed. 2008.*
    This is a frank personal account of growing up black during the era of the civil rights movement. The author wrestles with racism, the death of Martin Luther King Jr, black radicalism, his interracial family, and his experience as one of the first black Unitarian Universalist ministers.
  • The Arc of the Universe Is Long: Unitarian Universalists, Anti-Racism, and the Journey from Calgary. Leslie Takahashi-Morris, James (Chip) Roush, Leon Spencer. 2009.*
    This recent history of the UUA journey toward becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural movement covers the fourteen years that begin with the passage of the racial and cultural diversity 1992 resolution at Calgary, Canada, and continues to General Assembly 2006. Using interviews and written records, the authors bring to life the voices and stories that represent many perspectives, all addressing issues of race and ethnicity in our congregations and our association.

General Interest

  • Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age. Juana Bordas. 2007.
    As the world becomes flatter and globalization creates a world village, it is imperative that leaders have the cultural flexibility and adaptability to inspire and guide people from very distinct backgrounds that represents the whole rainbow of humanity. This book puts forth a multicultural leadership model that integrates eight practices from African American, Indian and Latino communities, and offers leaders new approaches that will increase their interpersonal effectiveness with diverse populations.
  • United By Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey, Karen Chai Kim. 2003..
    Establishes the moral and ethical basis for multiracial churches with the truly prophetic assertion that to be the church of Jesus Christ, the American church needs a multiracial movement.
  • Welcoming Resistance. William Chris Hobgood. 2001.
    An extremely wise and helpful guide to understanding the resistance that almost inevitably arises when change is proposed. Hobgood makes an important contribution to discussion about congregational dynamics because he recognizes not only the dysfunctional characteristics of resistance but the positive functions as well; and he lays out a constructive strategy for responding to resistance.
  • On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the Twenty-first Century. Sherrilyn A. Ifill. 2008.**
    Nearly 5,000 black Americans were lynched between 1890 and 1960. Over forty years later, On the Courthouse Lawn examines the numerous ways that this racial trauma still resounds across the United States. While the lynchings and their immediate aftermath were devastating, the little-known contemporary consequences, such as the marginalization of political and economic development for black Americans, are equally pernicious.
  • Power, Privilege, and Difference. Allan Johnson. 2001.
    This is a groundbreaking tool to examine systems of privilege and difference in our society. Written in an accessible, conversational style, Johnson links theory with engaging examples in ways that enable readers to see the underlying nature and consequences of privilege and their connection to it. classroom, to shed light on issues of power and privilege.
  • Class Matters. The New York Times. 2005.
    The topography of class in America has shifted over the past twenty years, blurring the lines between upper, middle and lower classesW.hile the 14 pieces in this volume (all originally printed as part of a New York Times series) shed light on a different aspect of class, they all agree that it remains an important facet of contemporary American culture and draw their strength by examining class less through argument than through storytelling.
  • Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Martin Luther King, Jr. 2010.**
    In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, unavailable for more than ten years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America's future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education.
  • Stride Toward Freedom: the Montgomery Story. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2010.**
    An account of the first successful large-scale application of nonviolence resistance in America is comprehensive, revelatory, and intimate. It traces the phenomenal journey of a community, and shows how the twenty-eight-year-old Dr. King, with his conviction for equality and nonviolence, helped transformed the nation-and the world.
  • Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice. Paul Kivel. 1996.
    Uprooting Racism talks about racism without rhetoric or attack. Speaking as a white to fellow whites, Kivel shares stories, suggestions, advice, exercises and approaches for working together to fight racism.
  • The Power of Stories: A Guide for Leading Multi-Racial, Multi-Cultural Congregations. Jacqueline J. Lewis. 2008.
    Practical, realistic, and inspirational examples of congregational leaders who have successfully met the challenges of leading multicultural congregations to become unified communities through the power of storytelling. Lewis uncovers the essential competencies required to lead on the emergent religious border.
  • Dancing on Live Embers. Tina Lopes, Barbara Thomas. 2006.
    Investigates how racism, White power, and privilege operate in the ordinary moments of organizational life, holds up familiar workplace interactions for scrutiny, and looks for openings to advance racial equity and justice. Through stories, it offers concrete examples of racial justice work by a range of experienced activists. This is a hands-on book for people who are trying to create more equitable organizations.
  • White by Law. Ian F. Haney López. 1996.
    This remains the definitive work on how American law constructed a 'white' race at the turn of the twentieth century. López has added a chapter to the new edition, a sobering analysis of how, in our own time, 'colorblind' law and policy threaten to perpetuate, not eliminate, racial inequality.
  • The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America. Katherine Newman, Victor tan Chen. 2008.**
    While government programs help the needy and politicians woo the more fortunate, the &quotMissing Class&quot is largely invisible and ignored. Through the experiences of nine families, Katherine Newman and Victor Tan Chen trace the unique problems faced by individuals in this large and growing demographic-the &quotnear poor.&quot
  • The Anti-Racist Cookbook—A Recipe Guide for Conversations About Race That Goes Beyond Covered Dishes and “Kum-Bah-Ya”. Robin Parker and Pamela Smith Chambers. 2005.
    Many Americans are distressed by race but few know how to talk about it. This book tells how. Dialogue begins the path to racial reconciliation. The Anti-Racist Cookbook gives straight-forward advice on forming dialogue groups. From whom to invite and how to arrange the room to how to facilitate and what questions to discuss, everything is here. Recommended for anyone interested in answering the question &quotWhat can we do and how can we do it?&quot
  • The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Divide. Barbara Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright  2006.
    For every dollar owned by the average white family in the United States, the average family of color has less than a dime. Why do people of color have so little wealth? The Color of Wealth lays bare a dirty secret: for centuries, people of color have been barred by laws and by discrimination from participating in government wealth-building programs that benefit white Americans.
  • Bridging the Class Divide: And Other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing. Linda Stout. 1997.**
    A practical and inspirational guide to overcoming barriers of class and race. Again and again social change movements—on matters from the environment to women's rights—have been run by middle-class leaders. But in order to make real progress toward economic and social change, poor people—those most affected by social problems—must be the ones to speak up and lead. It can be done.
  • A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Ronald Takaki. 1993.
    A dramatic new retelling of our nation's past. Beginning with the colonization of the New World, it recounts the history of America in the voice of the non-Anglo peoples of the United States—Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and others—groups who helped create this country's rich mosaic culture.
  • Can We Talk about Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation. Beverly Daniel Tatum. 2007.**
    What Tatum seeks to do above all is trigger sometimes challenging discussions about race, and infuse those discussions with a reality-based focus on how race affects us all. She does that beautifully, asking tough questions, and patiently, inclusively seeking answers.
  • “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”—A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity. Beverly Daniel Tatum. 1997.
    Walk into any racially mixed high school and you’ll see black youth seated together in the cafeteria. Of course, it's not just the black kids sitting together-the white, Latino, Asian Pacific, and, in some regions, American Indian youth are clustered in their own groups, too. The same phenomenon is noticeable in college dining halls, faculty lounges, and corporate cafeterias. What is going on here? Tatum presents strong evidence that straight talk about our racial identities-whatever they may be-is essential if we are serious about facilitating communication across racial and ethnic divides.
  • White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. Tim Wise. 2007.
    Racial privilege shapes the lives of white Americans in every facet of life, from employment and education to housing and criminal justice. Using stories from his own life, Tim Wise shows that racism not only burdens people of color, but also benefits those who are &quotwhite like him&quot—whether or not they’re actively racist. Wise weaves a compelling narrative to assess the magnitude of racial privilege and is at once readable and scholarly, analytical yet accessible.
  • A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present. Howard Zinn. 1980.
    Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People's History is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of—and in the words of—America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers.

*Published by Skinner House Books
**Published by Beacon Press

"I believe that what we need is a new narrative–—a theology that empowers people to remember what Dr. King said: that none of us is free until all of us are free; and to understand that we can unite across all the artificial boundaries that divide us from each other and from God."
—Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley

More from Skinner House Books

More from Beacon Press

Featured Books

Like, Share, Print, or Explore

For more information contact