The Black Voices Project
A virtual book club uplifting black voices
The purpose of this digital space
The Black Voices Project is a virtual Black book club and community dedicated to uplifting Black literary/creative voices through a range of mediums including books, essays, podcasts, and more! Our hope is to facilitate meaningful conversations about systemic racism and Black history while addressing current political, racial, and social issues impacting Black culture.
We will read together, learn together and grow together!
Book Selection: On the 1st of every month, ULMS will pick a text to read for the next 30 days. The text will differ each month ranging from non-fiction to fiction and even poetry. Each book selected will all focus on race, anti-racism, and/or Black culture.
Discussion Questions: We know everyone reads at their own pace. Feel free to break out into smaller groups with your friends if that makes you more comfortable! Discussion questions, will be posted each month on this page for those who would like to start a small reading circle in their workspaces and to think through personally.
Monthly Zoom Group: During the first week of each month, there will be a live zoom discussion to cultivate conversations on the entirety of the text. Zoom details will be shared in the tab below!
Join the Book Club! Ready to participate in the dopest virtual Black book club ever? Head to the join section and get into the loop!
Here you’ll find books we have scheduled to read in the coming months. Please note, this list is subject to change:
- October 2020: “One Person, No Vote” by Carol Anderson
- August: “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
- September: “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine
Although Black lives have always mattered (and Black people have been dying at the hands of systemic racism long before this year), something about this moment feels different. According to the New York Times, between 15 million and 26 million people in the U.S. participated in demonstrations in the weeks following George Floyd’s murder… making this the largest movement in our country’s history.
"This is a movement; not a moment."
Join the Club!
Subscribe to our book club mailing list.
We’re excited to read with you! Once you officially subscribe to the Black Voices Project, you will get instant access to:
- Monthly book wrap up Zoom meeting invitation
- Adv. notice to claim free books
- Mini monthly newsletter
- Access to our private Black Voices Project Facbook group
- Free discounts and perks for Seattle Arts & Lectures events and tickets!
Once you’re subscribed, we’ll reach out to you with this month’s book pick and some think questions to get you started. If you don’t have our selected book, see below for ways to read along!
Tune in to discuss!
Join us at the end of each month for our wrap-up zoom discussion! We’ll have an in depth discussion and round-table analysis of the book, it’s themes, and real world application. You can also check in with our Facebook group for real time engagement, some surprise giveaways, announcements and more!
In order to truly understand this moment and our role in it, we must know how history brought us here and make a serious commitment to amplify Black voices.
We are in the middle of a collective commitment right now, to #DoBetter, dismantle white supremacy, and fight for equity for all. It’s as if, as a nation, we have hit a boiling point and are suddenly wondering: How did we get here, and what can we do about it now?
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Here's what we're reading:
In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.
Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.
Link to Book:
Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University and author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation’s Divide, a New York Times Bestseller, Washington Post Notable Book of 2016, and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner. She is also the author of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955; Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960, and One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy, which was long-listed for the National Book Award and a finalist for the PEN/Galbraith Award in non-fiction.
“In 1890…the Magnolia State passed the Mississippi Plan, a dizzying array of poll taxes, literacy tests, understanding clauses, newfangled voter registration rules, and “good character” clauses—all intentionally racially discriminatory but dressed up in the genteel garb of bringing “integrity” to the voting booth.”
“Bilbo was pointing to the power of the literacy test and understanding clause, which were tailor-made for societies that systematically refused to educate millions of their citizens and ensured that the bulk of the population remained functionally illiterate…for most of the twentieth century, many Jim Crow school systems did not have high schools for African Americans.”
“Despite the fact that this scene played out over and over in registrars’ offices across the South—where a registrar in Mississippi could even ask African Americans, “How many bubbles in a bar of soap?” —the law itself was just race-neutral enough to withstand judicial scrutiny.”
“What the states could not accomplish by law, they were more than willing to achieve by violence. The wholesale slaughter of African Americans in Colfax, Louisiana (1873), Wilmington, North Carolina (1898), and Ocoee, Florida (1920), resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives simply because whites were enraged that black people had voted.”
“As in most oppressive societies, those in power knew that an educated population would only upset the political and economic order.”
― Carol Anderson
Rankine addresses “you” throughout the book. Where do you recognize yourself in the encounters described in Citizen, if at all? What perspectives or angles of experience were you surprised to inhabit, and why?
Look up “lyric” in the dictionary, or do an internet search for “lyric poetry.” How does Rankine’s use of “lyric” in the subtitle of Citizen both adhere to and challenge these definitions and usages?
Citizen narrates many instances of micro-aggressions—individual acts of racism that collectively form the crushing experience of racism in America. Is racism a singular action, or is it a series of acts? What is the difference between the singular action and the accumulation of them?
What associations does the image on the cover of book bring up for you? Is it surprising that the work of art it depicts, In the Hood by David Hammons, was first exhibited in 1993? How does In the Hood relate to the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012? What does this seemingly disjointed timeframe say about the deadly effects of racism in America?
How to Read Along With Us
Don’t have a copy of our selected book? No worries! Each book is accessible digitally via the Seattle Public Library (SPL). All you need is a free library card. To get one, simply click the button below and we’ll help you get started! If you don’t have a Seattle based address, you can always get a free eCard and access the book via the King County Library System (KCLS). If all else fails, you can also check out the library’s audiobook option (also free)!
Our goal is to make these books, podcasts, poems and conversations accessible for anyone who is willing to show up for the Black community. We know that anti-racism work doesn’t stop when the protests end. Anti-racism work is a practice! It requires intention and commitment.
“Revolution is not a one-time event.” - Audre Lorde
Build your library
Get a free copy of this month's book!
Owning a personal collection of books is a special opportunity each of us should have. We want to help you get started!
If you love that “new book” smell or simply enjoy the traditional flip of a real page, this one is for you! Each month, we will send the physical version of our selected book of the month to the first 10 readers who claim a copy via the button below! If you miss your chance to claim a book, don’t worry! You can always come back next month and try again.
RESTRICTIONS: First come, first served. One book per household.
Since the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Shaun Fuhr, Manuel Ellis, and others– race has been top of mind in our nation’s consciousness. Those around the nation are reaffirming that, “Yes, Black Lives do Matter”! It is clear that people want to do better. Now, communities are looking for ways to learn how to show up even further for the Black community in this time and all time.
"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers" - MLK Jr.
As an official member of the Black Voices Project, you will have access to exclusive discount opportunities, tickets, events, and more provided by our friends from Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL)!
Free Youth Starter Library
Middle school aged students
Access to books is just as important for our youth as it is for adults.
While the Black Voices Project is centered around a digital book club experience for adults, we also recognize that many children don’t have access to leisure books or books with stories and characters they can relate to. For a limited time, you can now request a FREE Youth Starter Library!
Each Youth Starter Library will contain 3 books written by authors of color from the middle grade fiction genre (ages 8-12). The books will be pre-selected randomly from our existing catalog of 30+ titles including:
- Hidden Figures (Young Readers Edition)
- The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
- Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
- Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
How to REQUEST YOUR LIBRARY
Interested in claiming a Youth Starter Library for your child? Simply click the button below to get started!
RESTRICTIONS: First come, first served. One library per household.