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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Reading List: In Their Own Words: Speeches, Essays, and Writing by Civil Rights Leaders

A guide to readings and resources on the topics of ability, activism, ethnicity, race, higher education, gender, nationality, religion, sexuality, and class.


In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this compilation predominantly showcases the writings of Black American leaders dedicated to the cause of civil rights. The list encompasses authors predating the civil rights movement, figures prominent during the movement (1954-1968), and voices from subsequent generations, including contemporary authors. Although the focus of this list is specific, the essential endeavor for liberation and change involves many voices worldwide.

Michelle Alexander

Susan Burton

Angela Davis

Medgar Evers

bell hooks

Patrisse Khan-Cullors

John Lewis

Janet Mock

Paul Robeson

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Jesmyn Ward

Cornel West

James Baldwin

Combahee River Collective

Frederick Douglass

Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Audre Lorde

Pauli Murray

Bryan Stevenson

Natasha Trethewey

Josephine J. Turpin Washington

Isabel Wilkerson

Emily Bernard

Kimberlé Crenshaw

W. E. B. Du Bois

Fannie Lou Hamer

James Weldon Johnson

Kiese Laymon

DeRay Mckesson

Claudia Rankine

Barbara Smith

Sojourner Truth

Ida B. Wells

Malcolm X