The day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 assassination, a schoolteacher in small-town Iowa scrapped her lesson plan to conduct an anti-racism experiment on her all-white third-grade class. By treating students more or less favorably based on eye color, Jane Elliott‘s now-famous Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes exercise encouraged children to experience what prejudice and discrimination feel like first-hand.

If it can be learned, it can be unlearned.

More than 50 years on, the 87-year-old activist, educator and diversity trainer continues to be a powerful voice in the fight for racial justice and equality. Often speaking on the importance of education to unlearn prejudice, her website lists a lengthy bibliography “to start your exploration of the problems of sexism, racism, and ageism.”

Find Jane Elliot’s book recommendations below, and check out other anti-racist reads on the bookshelves of Angela Davis, Ibram X. Kendi, MLK, Malcolm X, and Rage Against The Machine.


A Good Age by Alex Comfort

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark


Playing for Time by Fania Fenelon

Fragments of Isabella: A Memoir of Auschwitz by Isabella Leitner

Upon the Head of the Goat by Aranka Seigel

A Jew Today by Elie Weisel

Night by Elie Weisel

The Jesus Connection by Leonard C. Yaseen

Stolen Years by Sara Zyskind


One Teacher in 10 by Kevin Jennings

Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism by Suzanne Pharr


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (also rec’d by Frank Ocean, Henry Rollins & J. Cole)

The Nature of Prejudice by Gordon Allport

Never Say Nigger Again by M. Garlina Burton

Eat a Bowl of Tea by Louis Chu

Prejudice and Your Child by Kenneth Clark

Black Rage by William Grier & Price Cobbs

Martin and Malcolm and America by James H. Cone

The Rage of a Privileged Class by Ellis Cose

Custer Died for Your Sins by Vine Deloria

God is Red by Vine Deloria

We Talk, You Listen by Vine Deloria

From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman

Two Nations: Black and White. Separate, Hostile, Unequal by Andrew Hacker

The Quiet Americans by Bill Homokawa

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Houston & James Houston

The Colors of Excellence by Pearl Rock Kane & Alfonso J. Orsini

Nigger by Randall Kennedy

Black and White Styles in Conflict by Thomas Kochman

A White Teacher Talks About Race by Julie Landsman

Race, Religions and the Continuing American Dilemma by C. Eric Lincoln

Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

The Chicano Experience: An Alternative Perspective by Alfredo Mirande

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (also rec’d by Gabrielle UnionGeorge Saunders & Ibram X. Kendi)

Yell-Oh Girls by Vickie Nam

A Class Divided: Then and Now by William Peters

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez

The Racial Conditioning of our Children by Nathan Rutstein

Blaming the Victim by William Ryan

Arab and Jew by David K. Shipler

Crisis in Black and White by Charles E. Silberman

Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith

The Price of Inequality by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Lynching Lynchism: It’s Time To Heal and What We Must Do by Dr. Terri Strong

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan

Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (also rec’d by Chimamanda AdichieEmma WatsonGabrielle UnionGlennon DoyleGloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton & Janet Mock)

What’s the Matter with White People by Joan Walsh

Birth Dearth by Ben Wattenberg

Native Roots by Jack Weatherford

The Psychology of Blacks by  Thomas A ParhamAdisa Ajamu & Joseph L. White

Eyes on the Prize by Juan Williams

Black Boy by Richard Wright

The Choice: The Issue of Black Survival in America by Samuel F. Yette


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (also rec’d by Emma Watson & Gloria Steinem)

The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler

In A Different Voice by Carol Gilligan

Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith

Women’s Reality by Anne Wilson Schaef

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (also rec’d by Emma Watson)


The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter

The Children’s Story by James Clavell

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman (also rec’d by Bill Nye)

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

The Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner

Only in America by Harry Golden

For 2 Cent Plain by Harry Golden

Enjoy, Enjoy! by Harry Golden

Don’t Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

Introducing Buddhism by Chris Pauling

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (also rec’d by Ellen DeGeneres, Jack Dorsey, Meghan Markle & Yoko Ono)

Cultural Diversity by Bob Abramms, L. Ann Hopkins, Diane J. Johnson & George F. Simons

Hate Hurts by Caryl Stern-Larosa, and Ellen H. Bettmann

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (also rec’d by Rage Against The Machine)


Categories: Activists