How could a country founded on the honorable ideals of freedom and equality have so willingly embraced the evils of enslavement and oppression?
America’s history of race relations is a difficult one, full of uncomfortable inconsistencies and unpleasant truths. Although the topic is sensitive, it is important to face this painful past unflinchingly—knowing this history is key to understanding today’s racial climate and working towards a more harmonious society.
InRace Relations: The Struggle for Equality in America, kids ages 12 to 15 follow the evolution of race relations in America from the country’s earliest beginnings until present day. The book examines how the concept of race was constructed in the seventeenth century and how American colonists used racial differences to justify slavery, discrimination and the persecution of people of color. Through links to online primary sources such as newspaper articles, letters, poems, and songs, young readers will explore how race relations changed—and didn’t—through the eras of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights, and under the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
The book introduces students to people from four different centuries—some famous, some ordinary citizens—who took great risks to fight for freedom, equality, and social justice. It also fosters discussions of contemporary racial issues and social justice movements, including Black Lives Matters, and encourages students to consider steps they can take to help improve race relations.