Social Justice Reading Circle: Book Club


Everywhere You Don’t Belong

by Gabriel Bump


Libertie, A Novel

by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Ordinary Equality: The Fearless Women and Queer People who Shaped the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Rights Amendment

by Kate Kelly


Parable of the Sower

by Octavia Butler


Mortimer & the Witches: A History of Nineteenth-Century Fortune Telling

by Marie Carter

The Stowe Prize for Literary Activism is awarded annually by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center to honor a book of social justice consequence with a clear call to action.

Below please find the short list of finalists for the this year’s award. The winner of the Stowe Prize for Literary Activism 2024 is Dr. Bettina L. Love for her book “Punished for Dreaming”.  A virtual Social Justice Reading Circle will be hosted from May – September on the third Thursdays of every month.  Stay tuned to register!

Stowe Prize Shortlist 2024 Descriptions (listed alphabetically)

The Ground Breaking by Scott Ellsworth

In 1921, “Black Wall Street”, an affluent Black Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was razed by a white mob under the protection of armed government personnel. The area’s churches, hospitals, libraries, and banks were looted and bombed, and the residents murdered and terrorized. The Ground Breaking exposes the long-standing suppression of research into the destruction of a Black community and efforts to liberate the remains of those who are still interred there in unmarked graves.

Chain Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Positioned as modern-day gladiators, Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxx” Stacker are two imprisoned women forced to compete for their freedom, and the entertainment and profit of the private prison industry. Thurwar is close to achieving her freedom and hopes to leave her fellow “Links” in the Chain-Gang All-Stars system with some hope for their own humanity. Her efforts are seen as a threat to the Criminal Action Penal Entertainment (CAPE) program and met with devastating obstacles in their attempt to retain their racist, capital-driven status quo.

Punished For Dreaming by Dr. Bettina L. Love

Dr. Bettina Love demonstrates the devastating effects of Reagan’s educational reform on Black children. Dr. Love follows four the lives of 25 Black Americans who lived through the targeting, pathologizing, and punishing rhetoric of the War on Drugs to reveal the ways that harsh policies disproportionately harm Black children, while bolstering the profits of the private prison industrial complex.

Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride 

Set in 1972 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, we’re immersed in the lives and struggles of the adjoining African American and Jewish immigrant communities of a rundown neighborhood called Chicken Hill.  When a body is found in a well at the dig site of a new development, long-buried secrets of a town forced to survive in the margins of an oppressive white, Christian system are revealed. These secrets take us back 40 years to meet Moshe Ludlow, the owner of a theatre, his wife, Chona, the owner of Heaven and Earth Grocery store, and a community marked by both the possibilities of racial integration and violence of racial prejudice. (TW: SA, CSA)

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

Annis is a young girl who must make a long journey south to Louisiana after being sold by the white enslaver who fathered her. After overhearing Dante’s Inferno being taught to his other daughter, Annis likens her treacherous journey through the antebellum South, and the spirit of her grandmother, and various others she encounters to the epic poem. Through immersive poetic prose, we experience her pain and struggle for dignity. 

Stowe Prize Shortlist 2023 (listed alphabetically)

The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander

Viral Justice: How to Grow the World We Want by Dr. Ruha Benjamin

Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliot

Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature by Farah Jasmine Griffin

South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry