By bringing together five journalists who each offer a take on the buildup to that summer [of 2020], the book functions as a time capsule that hopefully will be useful to future historians as they assess not just the impact of the protests but also the history of the police violence, and the organizing, that led to them ... The book is certainly engaging. The one downside is that at times, it felt as if the five journalists were simply contributing chapters on the theme of Black Lives Matter without any unifying narrative. At the same time, the chapters were oddly similar in style. A reader could easily think that the book had been written by a sole author, perhaps reshaped from a feature published in some newspaper or another ... the book is a welcome reminder of what is possible. And although it bills itself as recounting 'How Black Lives Came to Matter in America,' it is much more than that, given its chapters on how the coronavirus wreaked havoc on Black communities, how the history of modern-day policing is inseparable from the history of slave patrols, Black organizing dating to the 1940s and broader issues such as income inequality.
The essays can be read as standalone pieces, but it's useful to have them in one volume ... A thoughtful assessment of the Black Lives Matter movement that illuminates the work still left to do. Recommended for readers newly interested in antiracist activism.
In this sweeping if uneven survey, five Black journalists explore how racism and the fight for racial justice have shaped America’s past and present ... Though platitudinous profiles of Black politicians including Barack Obama and Kamala Harris disappoint, Nick Charles delivers a nuanced and revealing exploration of tensions between traditional Black churches and the Black Lives Matter movement. Throughout, the authors skillfully draw on interviews with protestors, clergy members, scholars, and community organizers, and offer brisk yet insightful accounts of the Jim Crow era, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and other historical episodes. The result is an accessible introduction to the latest chapter in the ongoing struggle for civil rights in America.
... [a] hit-and-miss book ... Weaker sections offer shopworn denunciations of Trump and near-hagiography of Kamala Harris and other politicians in flat passages with too much overfamiliar or unedifying material. For many readers, however, this book may be worth it for Charles’ insightful observations on Black churches alone ... An uneven yet useful survey of historical and contemporary forces driving the Black Lives Matter movement.