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A Celebration of Black History

In honor of Black History Month, the University of Notre Dame Press is thrilled to share a collection of some of its most indispensable books in African American studies and African American Intellectual History to amplify Black voices.

William Still: The Underground Railroad and the Angel at Philadelphia is the first major biography of the free black abolitionist William Still, who coordinated the Eastern Line of the Underground Railroad and was a pillar of the Railroad as a whole. This monumental work details Still’s life story beginning with his parents’ escape from bondage in the early nineteenth century and continuing through his youth and adulthood as one of the nation’s most important Underground Railroad agents and, later, as an early civil rights pioneer. Unique to this book is an accessible and detailed database of the 995 fugitives Still helped escape from the South to the North and Canada between 1853 and 1861.

“Kashatus’s detailed biography of William Still, with its stories of courageous slaves plotting daring escapes, and moving accounts of free Black people who were kidnapped and taken into slavery, reveals the interracial cooperation involved in helping escaped slaves reach freedom, and honors the man who, at his death in 1902, was named ‘Father of the Underground Railroad.'”

Foreword Reviews (starred review)

Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer, 1900–1959 is an anthology written between 1900 and 1959 that encapsulates Burroughs’ work as a theologian, philosopher, activist, educator, intellectual, and evangelist. Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879–1961) is just one of the many African American intellectuals whose work has been long excluded from the literary canon. This book represents a landmark contribution to the African American intellectual historical project by allowing readers to experience Burroughs in her own words. 

“In a public career that spanned six decades, the educator and civil rights activist Nannie Helen Burroughs was a leading voice in the African American community. . . . In this collection of documents, the historian Kelisha B. Graves focuses on Burroughs’s published writings on race and racism, women’s rights, and social justice. . . . Graves has raised interesting questions about ambiguities in the black protest movement in the first half of the twentieth century.”

The Journal of American History

Colin Powell: Imperfect Patriot is the fascinating story of Powell’s professional life and of what we can learn from both his good and bad followership. This biography demonstrates that Powell’s decades-long development as an exemplary subordinate is crucial to understanding his astonishing rise from a working-class immigrant neighborhood to the highest echelons of military and political power.

“The consummate general, national security advisor, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State and Patriot is profiled and on full display in Matthews’ work. Well-researched and full of rich detail, the book seems to be a balanced, albeit critical, review of Powell’s 40+ years of service. . . . Matthews makes note of Powell’s followership as an ‘assistant’ and ‘deputy’ in many of his duties throughout his career, contributing to why he was a great leader. Yet ultimately, even the best leaders make mistakes and are fallible, and we can all learn from that.”

—Brigadier General Chad Manske, Commandant of the National War College

Black Domers: African-American Students at Notre Dame in Their Own Words tells the compelling story of racial integration at the University of Notre Dame in the post–World War II era. In a series of seventy-five essays, beginning with the first African-American to graduate from Notre Dame in 1947 to a member of the class of 2017 who also served as student body president, we can trace the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the African-American experience at Notre Dame through seven decades.

“Some stories need to be lived in order to be told truthfully, truly and fully. But even an African-American student would be unable to tell the story of being black at Notre Dame because there is no single story, no singular experience, no one person who can speak for all who have come here from so many places, families, and personal histories. It would take a book to explain. And one with many voices. Now we have that book.”

—Kerry McPhee Temple, editor, Notre Dame Magazine

Taking the Fight South provides a timely and telling reminder of the vigilance democracy requires if racial justice is to be fully realized. In Taking the Fight South, arguably his most personal book, historian Howard Ball focuses on six years, from 1976 to 1982, when, against the advice of friends and colleagues in New York, he and his Jewish family moved from the Bronx to Starkville, Mississippi, where he received a tenured position in the political science department at Mississippi State University. For Ball, his wife, Carol, and their three young daughters, the move represented a leap of faith, ultimately illustrating their deep commitment toward racial justice.

“As we examine the horrific examples of public racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant policy and behavior in contemporary society, I read this book personally, internalizing it deeply to ask if I would have had similar courage.”

—Mark Curnutte, author of Across the Color Line

A timely installment in our national narrative, Color is a chronicle of the black middle class, a group rarely written about with sensitivity and charity. In evocative, trenchant, and poetic prose, Kenneth A. McClane employs the art of the memoirist to explore the political and the personal. He details the poignant narrative of racial progress as witnessed by his family during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. In McClane’s words, “All concern race, although they, like the human spirit, wildly sweep and yaw.”

“ . . . McClane is neither an angry young man with a message nor someone with a one-sided political agenda. Instead, he comes across as what he is at Cornell, a teacher asking his readers to reflect on their own lives. This title is recommended for comprehensive Black studies collections, to complement the more extensive volumes of Michael Eric Dyson, Gerald Early, Bell Hooks, and other better-known African-American essayists.”

Multicultural Review

Despite the extensive scholarship on Max Weber (1864–1920) and W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963), very little of it examines the contact between the two founding figures of Western sociology. Drawing on their correspondence from 1904 to 1906, and comparing the sociological work that they produced during this period and afterward, The Spirit vs. the Souls: Max Weber, W. E. B. Du Bois, and the Politics of Scholarship examines for the first time the ideas that Weber and Du Bois shared on topics such as sociological investigation, race, empire, unfree labor, capitalism, and socialism.

“McAuley explores the little-known personal and intellectual relationship between Max Weber and W. E. B. Du Bois in this volume. The two scholars corresponded briefly until, as McAuley claims, the divergence in their ideas made an ongoing relationship impossible. Today, he argues, academia remembers Weber incorrectly as the ‘pure scholar,’ while downgrading and misconstruing Du Bois’s intellectual credentials as those of a mere ‘political academic.'”


Winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, Stepmotherland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes’s first full-length collection, is filled with poems that chronicle and question identity, family, and allegiance. This Central American love song is in constant motion as it takes us on a lyrical and sometimes narrative journey from Panamá to the USA and beyond. The driving force behind Holnes’s work is a pursuit for a new home, and as he searches, he takes the reader on a wild ride through the most pressing political issues of our time and the most intimate and transformative personal experiences of his life. Exploring a complex range of emotions, this collection is a celebration of the discovery of America, the discovery of self, and the ways they may be one and the same.

“Holnes’s ecstatic debut transforms an immigrant’s dislocation into a newly discovered sense of belonging. Crossing borders and languages, these poems speak a truth about identity that’s more complex than mere labels can capture.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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