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Race, Social Justice, and Civil Rights

Resources about race, racism, police violence, social justice, civil resistance, hate crime, and civil rights.

Libraries Are For Everyone

Using This Guide

"The Public Library of the City of Boston built by the people and dedicated to the advancement of learning. The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty. Free to all."

These words are engraved in stone on the façade of the Central Library in Copley Square, and are central to the mission of the Boston Public Library. The BPL is a safe, inclusive, open, and accessible space dedicated to serving the cultural, educational, and informational needs of all Bostonians, residents of Massachusetts, and visitors. In keeping with this mission, this guide contains books and other resources relating to race and racism in America. Our hope is that students, educators, parents, activists, allies, library staff, and everyone in between may find this guide useful as they engage with and challenge issues of race, racism, police violence, privilege, social justice, and civil rights.


“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” -James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1955)

“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.” -Maya Angelou, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986)

“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust...We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” -Thurgood Marshall, speech: We Must Dissent (1992)

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." -Alice Walker

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. And you cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” -Cesar Chavez, An Organizer's Tale: Speeches (2008)

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." -Martin Luther King, Jr., "Loving Your Enemies" in Strength To Love (1968)

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