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Not a Genuine Black Man

Brian Copeland



In the summer of 1972, when Brian Copeland was eight, his family moved from Oakland to San Leandro, hoping for a better life. At the time, San Leandro was 99.99% white and the suburban community was not welcoming to African Americans. This reputation was confirmed almost immediately: Brian got his first look at the inside of a cop car, forced into the backseat after walking to the park with a baseball bat in hand. Days later, Brian was turned away by several barbers who said "we don't cut that kind of hair." And that Christmas, while shopping at a local department store, Brian was accused of stealing and forced to empty his pockets in front of store security. It was a time that Brian spent his adult years trying to forget, until one day an anonymous letter arrived that forced him to reevaluate his childhood: "As an African American, I am disgusted every time I hear your voice because YOU are not a genuine black man!" A poignant, hilarious, and disarming memoir about growing up black in an all-white suburb, Not a Genuine Black Man is also a powerful contemplation on the meaning of race, and a thoughtful examination of how our surroundings make us who we are.

The Liberation of Gabriel King

K.L. Going


Grades 4 - 7

For grades 4-7, this is the story of two friends who overcome their fears - one of going to fifth grade and one of racial prejudice. "Full of humanity and humor, this well-paced novel offers a dollop of history with its setting in rural Georgia at the moment local boy Jimmy Carter's presidential bid is gaining momentum. The villains' credibility makes them scary, and both Gabe and Frita's refreshingly functional families are exquisitely drawn..." - Publisher's Weekly Gabriel King believes he was born chicken. He's afraid of spiders, corpses, loose cows, and just about everything related to the fifth grade. If it's a choice between graduating or staying in the fourth grade forever, he's going to stay put - only his best friend Frita Wilson won't hear of it. "Gabe," says Frita, "we gotta do something about you." When Frita makes up her mind she's like a locomotive - there's no stopping her. "First you're going to make a list. Write down everything you're afraid of." Gabe's list is a lot longer than he'd like Frita to know. Plus, he can't quite figure out how tackling his fears will make him brave. Surely jumping off the rope swing over the catfish pond can only lead to certain death...But maybe Frita knows what she's doing. It turns out she's got her own list, and while she's watching Gabe tackle each of his fears, she's avoiding the fear that scares her the most. With wisdom and clarity, K. L. Going explores the nature of fear in what should be an idyllic summer for two friends from different backgrounds. For them, living in a small town in Georgia with an active Ku Klux Klan, the summer of 1976 is a momentous one.

The Other Side

Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis


Grades K - 3

This beautifully illustrated picture book for grades K-3 tells a story of a friendship across race. "I wanted to write about how powerful kids can be. Clover and Annie fight against segregation by becoming friends. They don't believe in the ideas adults have about things so they do what they can to change the world. We all have this power." - Jacqueline Woodson From School Library Journal: Clover, the young African-American narrator, lives beside a fence that segregates her town. Her mother instructs her never to climb over to the other side because it isn't safe. But one summer morning, Clover notices a girl on the other side. Both children are curious about one another, and as the summer stretches on, Clover and Annie work up the nerve to introduce themselves. They dodge the injunction against crossing the fence by sitting on top of it together, and Clover pretends not to care when her friends react strangely at the sight of her sitting side by side with a white girl. Eventually, it's the fence that's out of place, not the friendship. Woodson's spare text is easy and unencumbered.

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