Social Justice



A letter from Michelle Sampson, York Public Library Executive Director regarding Social Justice and Black Lives Matter.


There are endless resources on racial and social justice, so consider this page a starting point. We encourage you to continue your own research and discover the many books, audiobooks, podcasts, documentaries, and more on this important field of study. Here are a few we recommend.

Suggested Reading 

Antiracist Reading List from Dr. Ibram X. Kendi 
List compiled by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, 
professor and the director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University and National Book Award–winning author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist. Many works featured in this list are available at York Public Library through Minerva, hoopla, and CloudLibrary.  See also Dr. Kendi’s Book Club Guide for How to Be an Antiracist

How to Raise an Antiracist
Anti-Racist Ally : An introduction to Action & Activism
This Book Is Anti-racist : 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work
On Critical Race Theory : Why It Matters & Why You Should Care
Last Slave Ship : The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning
Sword and the Shield : The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
His Name Is George Floyd : One Man
My Seven Black Fathers : A Young Activist’s Memoir of Race, Family, and the Mentors Who Made Him Whole
Trayvon Generation
How to be an Antiracist
Stamped from the Beginning : The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
White Fragility : Why It
Locking Up Our Own : Crime and Punishment in Black America
Fire Next Time
Collected Essays : Notes of a Native Son, Nobody Knows My Name, the Fire Next Time, No Name in the Street, the Devil Finds Work, Other Essays
Between the World and Me
Half Has Never Been Told : Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Warmth of Other Suns : The Epic Story of America
Me and White Supremacy : Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Suggested Watching

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Suggested Reading

20 Picture Books for 2020: Readings to Embrace Race, Provide Solace & Do Good Research from Harvard University suggests that children as young as three years old, when exposed to racism and prejudice, tend to embrace and accept it, even though they might not understand the feelings. By age 5, white children are strongly biased towards whiteness. To counter this bias, experts recommend acknowledging and naming race and racism with children as early and as often as possible. This list from was curated by children’s literature scholars and parents. They also curate several other lists for books as well as how to talk to children about race. +

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative. Read more about The 1619 Project.

A Reading List on Issues of Race – Harvard Faculty Recommend the Writers and Subjects that Promote Context and Understanding A compiled list of reading from Harvard professors that promote context and understanding for different issues involving race.  In addition to a list, each title typically includes several paragraphs detailing why it is an important work and what issue of race it deals.

Suggested Viewing

Ava DuVernay’s 13th – a Netflix Original Documentary  Netflix offers this documentary free of charge, no Netflix subscription needed. Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay’s examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country’s history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America. This piercing, Oscar-nominated film won Best Documentary at the Emmys, the BAFTAs and the NAACP Image Awards. Watch now on Youtube

Race Matters: America in Crisis, A PBS NewsHour Special  As the United States grapples with widespread unrest after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, our fraught national relationship with race is again in the spotlight. How can we move forward from this moment? PBS NewsHour believes we should begin the conversation by listening to black Americans. For that, we turn to a variety of grassroots voices, newsmakers and thought leaders. Watch now

The Central Park Five  Acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns’ work on the aforementioned New York City case contains tons of archival footage and first-person testimony from reporters, people involved in the case, and historical context that explains how bias against people of color allowed five teenage boys to be sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

LA ’92  Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s 2017 documentary  recounts the stories of Rodney King, who was brutally beaten by police officers, and Latasha Harlins, a teenager who was fatally shot in a convenience store. King’s attackers were found not guilty despite damning video evidence, and in the days after, fires, riots, and looting ravaged Los Angeles.

I Am Not Your Negro  In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House”. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends-Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his new documentary, filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material.

Whose Streets?  Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters.


Racial Justice and Anti-Racism Resources in Maine

Portland Freedom Trail African Americans have lived in Maine for centuries. A good way to see that history is to follow their footsteps for about two miles through downtown Portland.
The Portland Freedom Trail is a self-guided tour through some of Portland’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods. The Trail will take you to important sites in African American history, specifically those dealing with 19th-century Black Mainers who stood in the vanguard of the fight against slavery.

University of Southern Maine: Getting Started with Anti-Racism at USM This is a resource originally created for staff and students of the University of Southern Maine, but it is a comprehensive look at many excellent anti-racist podcasts, articles, videos, reading lists, and more. View it here. Be sure to also check out USM’s Diversity Resources page and their Racial Justice Challenge.

Racial Justice and Equity Organization We are an alliance of BIPOC utilizing a solution-based approach providing support to BIPOC individuals and families to survive and thrive with greater equality, justice, liberation, resources, safety, cultural wellness, healing, empowerment, and opportunity. Community Care, Cultural Continuation, Decolonization, and Community Building are the foundational elements of our work. Racial Equity and Justice Organization (REJ) is Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) founded and led a nonprofit organization located in Wabanaki Territory (Maine). 

Racial Justice and Anti-Racism Resources in New England and Nationally

Talking about Race: a Web Portal from The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture  This online portal is designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture. The online portal provides digital tools, online exercises, video instructions, scholarly articles and more than 100 multi-media resources tailored for educators, parents and caregivers—and individuals committed to racial equality.

BU Center for Antiracist Research  The mission of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research is to convene researchers and practitioners from various disciplines to figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice. They foster exhaustive racial research, research-based policy innovation, data-driven educational and advocacy campaigns, and narrative-change initiatives. 

Seacoast African American Cultural Center  With concerts, educational programs, exhibits from notable artists, an active book group, and valuable collections of African artifacts, the Seacoast African American Cultural Center (SAACC) has become the hub of activity to showcase the contributions of individuals of African descent in the seacoast community.

SAACC was founded by a former Portsmouth, NH Teacher, Vernis M. Jackson who had a desire for, and who saw a need for an organization that would increase visibility of the rich African-American culture that exists here in New England. Recognizing this need, SAACC was launched in 2000 with a coalition of members from various African American organizations in the Seacoast area.

Atlantic Black Box  Through collaborative research, place-based education programs, digital humanities projects, events, and advocacy, The Atlantic Black Box Project seeks to engage the public in the collective rewriting of our regional history. Together, we ask: Why have we been telling certain stories about New England and not others? How did we come to unknow the region’s deep complicity in the institution of slavery and systems of oppression?

Black Heritage Trail New Hampshire Portsmouth, New Hampshire has been home to Africans and African-Americans for more than 350 years. Upon examination of their stories, we find that against the odds of early enslavement and subsequent marginalization, Africans and their descendants built communities and families, founded institutions, and served their town, state and nation in many capacities.