15 Books on Race & Religion by Black Thought Leaders

Feb 1, 2021 11:12:00 AM / by Broadleaf Books


“It’s time to stop prioritizing tradition and civility over the lives of the marginalized. Our well-meaning desires to be tolerant and welcoming have left us ill equipped to face radical evil.”
Lenny Duncan, Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.

We are each called to lead change and fight for the justice so desperately needed by generations raised amid oppression and inequity. In 2020, we mourned the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others who have been killed. As we seek to stand with those who experience daily prejudice due to systemic racism, we must listen to the Black community, and then we must act. These powerful books by Black thought leaders show the way as we join them and others in this critical movement toward equity.


BL united states of grace

United States of Grace

A Memoir of Homelessness, Addiction, Incarceration, and Hope

Lenny Duncan

Lenny Duncan, who inspired and challenged audiences with his breakout first book, Dear Church, now brings us his story about growing up Black and queer in the US, examining pressing issues like poverty, mass incarceration, white supremacy, and LGBTQ inclusion through an intimate portrayal of his life's struggles and joys. United States of Grace is a love story about America, making the claim that God is present with us in the most difficult of circumstances.

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BL first and only

First and Only

A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life

Jennifer R. Farmer

A map for finding on-the-job success, challenging systemic racism, and seeking inner healing through the power of faith, First and Only is a guidebook for every Black woman who has had to work twice as hard to be perceived as half as skilled. First and Only is not just about how to lean in, or how to discover the irrefutable laws of leadership. It's about how to heal so you can sustain work for justice and equity. It's about finding personal and social redemption—and leading others to find it too.

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BL in my grandmothers house

In My Grandmother's House

Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit

Yolanda Pierce

A grandmother's theology carries wisdom strong enough for future generations. In the pages of In My Grandmother's House, public theologian Yolanda Pierce builds an everyday womanist theology rooted in liberating scriptures, stories from the Black church, and truths from Black women's lives. The Divine has been showing up at the kitchen tables of Black women for a long time. It's time to get to know that God.

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parable of the brown girl

Parable of the Brown Girl

The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color

Khristi Lauren Adams

The stories of girls of color are often overlooked and ignored rather than valued and heard. Instead of relegating these young women to the margins, Khristi Lauren Adams brings their stories front and center where they belong. Thought-provoking and inspirational, Parable of the Brown Girl is a powerful example of how God uses the narratives we most often ignore to teach us the most important lessons in life.

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BL Worth It Final

Worth It

Overcome Your Fears and Embrace the Life You Were Made For

Brit Barron

Brit Barron grew up in an evangelical megachurch in the '90s, trying to fit inside the boundaries her church and its narrow view of God had placed around her. She felt boxed in by her fears, unable to realize her full potential. All that changed when she fell in love with a girl named Sami. Worth It shares her story to inspire us to overcome the fears that keep us from evolving beyond the narratives that have been defined by others. When we do, we'll find out it was so worth it!

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BL the seeker and the monk

The Seeker and the Monk

Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton

Sophfronia Scott

In The Seeker and the Monk, Sophfronia Scott mines the extensive private journals of one of the most influential contemplative thinkers of the past for guidance on how to live in these fraught times. As a Black woman who is not Catholic, Scott both learns from and pushes back against Thomas Merton, holding spirited, and intimate conversations on race, ambition, faith, activism, nature, prayer, friendship, and love. By engaging in this lively discourse, readers will gain a steady sense of how to dwell more deeply within—and even to love—this despairing and radiant world.

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BL Dear Church

Dear Church

A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.

Lenny Duncan

Formerly incarcerated, Lenny Duncan is now a Black preacher in the whitest denomination in the United States: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Shifting demographics and shrinking congregations make the headlines, but Duncan sees a direct line between the church's lack of diversity and lack of vitality. Dear Church offers a bold new vision for the future of communities of faith and calls everyone to the front lines of the church's renewal through racial equality and justice.

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BL Strength to Love

Strength to Love

Gift Edition

Martin Luther King Jr.

In these short meditative and sermonic pieces, some of them composed in jail and all of them crafted during the tumultuous years of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, Dr. King articulated and espoused in a deeply personal and compelling way his commitment to justice and to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual conversion that makes his work as much a blueprint for Christian discipleship today as it was then.

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30 day journey with martin luther king jr

30-Day Journey with Martin Luther King Jr.

Jonathan Chism

Martin Luther King Jr. led a country from division, racism, and hate toward unity and equality. Through brief daily readings and reflections, the 30-Day Journey series invites readers to be inspired and transformed through meaningful reflection and spiritual growth. This journey provides the perfect way to engage the thought of this hero of the civil rights movement.

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BL Love Big

Love Big

The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World

Rozella Haydée White

In the words of Mother Teresa, "We have forgotten that we belong to each other." This lapse in memory has caused deep fractures and allowed fear, hatred, and division to infect our lives together. In Love Big, leadership coach Rozella Haydée White introduces readers to the power of revolutionary relationships. Modeled after the image of God as a lover, these relationships can heal the brokenness of our lives by crossing over the dividing lines of race, gender, religion, orientation, ability, identity, and class to provide relief and inspiration.

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BL coretta


The Story of Coretta Scott King (Commemorative Edition)

Octavia Vivian

Coretta Scott King grew up in Alabama and worked her way through college, only to discover that she was not allowed to teach in white schools in Ohio. She pursued a musical career in Boston, where she met Martin Luther King Jr. The Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 brought Dr. King and his wife into national prominence. Since then, and even in the wake of the assassination of her husband, the nation witnessed the beauty and composure of Coretta Scott King as she continued to speak and act on behalf of civil rights. 

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BL Revives My Soul Again

Revives My Soul Again

The Spirituality of Martin Luther King Jr.

Victor Anderson and Lewis V. Baldwin

The scholarship on Martin Luther King Jr. is seriously lacking in terms of richly nuanced and revelatory treatments of his spirituality and spiritual life. Revives My Soul Again addresses this neglect by focusing on King's life as a paradigm of a deep, vital, engaging, balanced, and contagious spirituality. It shows that the essence of the person King was lies in the quality of his own spiritual journey and how that translated into not only a personal devotional life of prayer, meditation, and fasting but also a public ministry that involved the uplift and empowerment of humanity. 

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BL Bipolar Faith

Bipolar Faith

A Black Woman's Journey with Depression and Faith

Monica A. Coleman

Bipolar Faith is both a spiritual autobiography and a memoir of mental illness. In this powerful book, Monica Coleman shares her life-long dance with trauma, depression, and the threat of death. She examines the ways that the legacies of slavery, war, sharecropping, poverty, and alcoholism mask a family history of mental illness. Only as she was able to face her illness was she able to live faithfully with bipolar. And in the process, she discovered a new and liberating vision of God. 

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BL the last blues preacher

The Last Blues Preacher

Reverend Clay Evans, Black Lives, and the Faith that Woke the Nation

Zach Mills

Zach Mills's lively and powerful biography, The Last Blues Preacher, brings the life and work of Reverend Clay Evans into our time and examines how current national conversations on race, religion, politics, and popular culture can and should inform contemporary activism.

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BL the measure of a man

The Measure of a Man

Why Nonviolence Matters

Martin Luther King Jr.

Eloquent and passionate, reasoned and sensitive, this pair of meditations by the revered civil-rights leader, combined as one book, contains the theological roots of his political and social philosophy of nonviolent activism.

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