A special #GoodReads round-up feature to kick-off Black History Month.

This February, the nation celebrates Black History Month. While the merits of this “holiday” are hotly debated (See “Black History is American History” below), we see this opportunity to reflect on and honor the struggles and successes of African Americans in this country. And to continue an important conversation about racial equity and inclusion in the United States.

To quote Christen Lee from EPIP, “we celebrate Black History Month during a time in our collective history where it is so very clear that Black lives continue to be treated as less-than, where systems (and our individual participation in them) continue to privilege some groups at the expense of others. In such a climate, this is an opportunity to celebrate Black history and honor Black lives.”

For Living Cities, much of that work started in late 2013, when we made a commitment to accelerating progress on issues of racial equity and inclusion at the systems level in all of our work.

This week, we’ve compiled a special #GoodReads feature to kick-off Black History Month. Our staff have recommended articles that look at Black History Month and other critical social issues through a racial equity and inclusion lens. Over the course of the month, we’ll continue to highlight additional pieces in our weekly #GoodReads round-up.

Racial Equity and Inclusion

Black History is American History - By Herron Keyon Gaston, The Huffington Post

As the #BlackLivesMatter movement grows around the country, this Black History Month offers us an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices, struggles, hopes, dreams, contributions, successes, and triumphs of African Americans throughout our nation’s history. As we do so, Herron Keyon Gaston, a graduate student at Yale, reminds us in the Huffington Post that “the fact of the matter is – Black history is American history. The African American impact on history is far-reaching and is deeply etched in the social fabric of America. We cannot talk about American history without talking about African American history.”

Recommended by Nadia Owusu, Assistant Director of Strategic Communications and Storytelling

Is Ending Segregation the Key to Ending Poverty? - By Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

The Atlantic explores the Gautreaux project in Chicago, which provided vouchers to black public housing residents, allowing them to move to predominately rich and white suburbs. The article explores the idea that the best way to improve the lives of low-income people is to move them to higher-income neighborhoods.

Recommended by Jeff Raderstrong, Program Associate, The Integration Initiative

How Can Foundations Best Support the Movement for Racial Equity? - By Jeanné Isler, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

Philanthropy has a key role to play in producing dramatically better life outcomes for low-income people of color. This blog shares 5 themes from a recent webinar hosted by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) that explored how foundations can support the movement for racial equity. Highlights include the call for long-term cross-sector partnerships between foundations, grassroots leaders and community organizations, and the importance of funding leadership development and community engagement.

Recommended by Juan Sebastian Arias, Program Associate, Collective Impact

Policy Link Mapping Tool Screenshot. Philadelphia.

Mapping Racial and Ethnic Diversity - By Lauren Parker, and Policy Map

Racial and ethnic diversity can be indicative of economic and behavioral patterns. For example, racially and ethnically homogenous areas are sometimes representative of concentrated poverty or concentrated wealth. They could also be indicative of discriminatory housing policies or other related barriers. The national map of the diversity index is pretty striking.

Recommended by Brian Nagendra, Senior Investment Associate, Capital Innovation

D.C., Where Blacks are No Longer The Majority, Has a New African American Affairs Director - By Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post

In a city endearingly referred to as the “Chocolate City,” there is newly dedicated staff capacity to diligently monitor current and historical trends related to a once majority racial group. In an effort to pay more attention to the disparities between African Americans in the District and other groups, the newly-staffed Office on African-American Affairs provides an example about how municipalities look to the historical plight of a group to inform decision-making in the present. While this is not a novel model or new type of office than what we’ve seen for other minority groups, the timing is important as D.C. continues to expand and develop.

Recommended by Tiffany Ferguson, Program Assistant, Public Sector Innovation

The Most Important Issue No One’s Talking About in Chicago’s Mayoral Race - By Steve Bogira and Mick Dumke, The Chicago Reader


Recognizing the history of policies and practices that led us to the racial inequalities we see in U.S. cities today is critically important. The Chicago Reader looks at the history of racial segregation in Chicago, which has only worsened over time, and calls for more attention on the issue in the city’s current mayoral election.

Recommended by Juan Sebastian Arias, Program Associate, Collective Impact

Image Source: Black History Month Celebration. Flickr user, Maryland GovPics.