Unequal: A Story of America

Little, Brown. May 2022. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780759557017.
Gr 7 Up–An incisive look at how race has been woven into the fabric of our country since its inception. Spanning from 1865 to 2021, this work profiles 20 Black Americans, including Ida B. Wells and Nikole Hannah-Jones. Other subjects who are not as widely known include 16-year-old Mary Church, who desegregated a train car in Bowling Green, KY, and went on to be one of the first Black women to graduate college, and Michelle Alexander, a lawyer who fought against “the New Jim Crow,” the over-policing of Black people during the “War on Drugs” in the 1990s. The authors’ goal is to feature the freedom fighters from all walks of life who have been at the center of U.S.’s 150-year struggle for equality and to emphasize that “ordinary” people have pushed back against white supremacy. They make the case that this history cannot be disentangled from the broader American story. Teens can digest the substantial narrative profile by profile, but the work is best read as a whole. This is an excellent, accessible selection for history and political science classes. Thoroughly sourced and richly researched, it can be shelved alongside Stamped and Tracey Baptiste’s African Icons.
VERDICT Empowering, profound, and necessary, purchase for all collections serving young adults.

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