cover image Say Their Names: How Black Lives Came to Matter in America

Say Their Names: How Black Lives Came to Matter in America

Curtis Bunn et al. Grand Central, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3782-8

In this sweeping if uneven survey, five Black journalists explore how racism and the fight for racial justice have shaped America’s past and present. NBC News reporter Bunn covers the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the health-care disparities between racial groups magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the generations of Black wealth erased in the destruction of Black communities in Wilmington, N.C., and Tulsa, Okla., in 1898 and 1921, respectively. Keith Harriston and Patrice Gaines (Laughing in the Dark) trace the roots of policing in America to the creation of slave patrols in the 1700s and argue that post–Civil War convict leasing programs served as “a stepping-stone toward” mass incarceration. Though platitudinous profiles of Black politicians including Barack Obama and Kamala Harris disappoint, Nick Charles delivers a nuanced and revealing exploration of tensions between traditional Black churches and the Black Lives Matter movement. Throughout, the authors skillfully draw on interviews with protestors, clergy members, scholars, and community organizers, and offer brisk yet insightful accounts of the Jim Crow era, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and other historical episodes. The result is an accessible introduction to the latest chapter in the ongoing struggle for civil rights in America. Agent: Jennifer Herrera, David Black Literary. (Oct.)