Dr. Ivory Toldson’s Reading List

Dr. Ivory Toldson’s Reading List


So I’ve mentioned many times how frustrating it is reading source materials from the deficit frame. Most of the resources I’ve been able to come up with have been finding links in books that I’m reading. For instance, I remember reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X and saving the page where he talked about the books and authors that influenced him. I figured if they influenced him, then they were definitely things that I needed to be reading as well.

One thing I wanted to do was give us all a list of resources that are seminal to the black experience and consist of some of the strongest words and theories from Black scholars as well. Recently I was having a conversation with my sister about why I was frustrated we weren’t getting minority focused/produced works such as the Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. DuBois, considered by many to be the leading historical and modern scholar/communicator of the Black experience in American culture. Intrigued, she asked me to justify why I felt like these resources were important given how old they are. Overall, resources like this are important because they give us the historical context for the work we do in schools housed primarily by black and brown students, period.

The experiences [we] minorities face outside of the classroom in the world completely impact the way(s) in which we teach our students inside the classroom. The way we educators view our work and our authoritative power with our students. The way we view our role working for a government institution. And, the way we understand the term culturally relevant teaching practice. I still argue that we can’t be effective at incorporating culturally relevant teaching practice(s) if we ourselves don’t have culturally relevant history and knowledge to pull from. I would argue that just incorporating your own culture into the conversation isn’t the extent of positive teaching if you’re not also able to incorporate positively framed discussion points pulled from your students’ culture to help them build their academics and their self image. Something, again, that I’ve only been able to pull from my own independent readings outside of the graduate classroom.


As I’m pushing to be a solutions oriented person, I decided to contact Dr. Ivory Toldson to see what he would consider a powerful reading list for the people that care about Black Studies, or do life building work with minority students. He replied rather quickly with the above list. I’ve provided amazon links for all books listed above. Amazon has been my guilty pleasure lately. I got a $100 gift certificate from my sister for my birthday and bought roughly 12 used books from the site. One of my colleagues jokingly mentions her growing professional library in class. At this level, I do fully expect my peers to have some sort of professional library they are building. Regardless of where you are with yours I would recommend adding some of the books from Dr. Toldson’s list. Not all of the books are focused on academic education, however, I anticipate they would benefit from giving us all a greater sense of the history of our country from perspectives we may not have heard before. I’ve highlighted the books I own in maroon.

A little background about Dr. Toldson, I ran into him during one of my late night Youtube trances. I was watching interviews of various black scholars and followed a linked to a video on Khalil Shadeed’s Scholar’s Chair Youtube channel. “Dr. Toldson is an associate professor at Howard University, senior research analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and editor-in-chief of “The Journal of Negro Education.” He’s taken part in some great research helping to identify solutions for those of us that work in minority community development. I haven’t gotten a chance to read his work as closely as I would like, but his knowledge still serves as a great stepping stone for my own. I’m impressed by his work with the Negro Journal of Education, which I’ve made sure to pull from for my most recent grad school papers.

“Dr. Ivory Toldson, our new Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, is a prolific young scholar and myth buster. He has courageously debunked research and media coverage that perpetuates misleading stereotypes about African Americans. And he is a champion of increasing opportunities for black men, including teaching opportunities.”

– Secretary Arne Duncan, National HBCU Conference

I’ve included his Scholar’s Chair video below, and a PDF link to his study – Breaking Barriers: Plotting the Path to Academic Success for School-Age African American Males


The Spook Who Sat by the Door – Sam Greenlee
The Mis-Education of the Negro – Carter G. Woodson
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The Souls of Black People – W.E. B. Du Bois
Who Betrayed The African World Revolution – John Henrik Clarke
  • The African Presence in Ancient America, They Came Before Columbus – Ivan Van Sertima
The Destruction of the Black Civilization – Chancellor Williams
The African Origin of Civilization – Cheikh Anta Diop
Stolen Legacy – George G.M. James
Roots: The Saga of an American Family – Alex Haley
Black Men, Obsolete, Single, Dangerous?: The Afrikan American Family in Transition – Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti
The Afrocentric Idea – Molefi Kete Asante
Black Sheep – Achebe Toldson
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neal Hurtson
Richard Wright – Black Boy
The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization (Exploding the Myths) – Anthony T. Browder
The Black Panthers Speak – Phillip S. Foner
Message to the Blackman – Elijah Muhammad
Angela Davis an Autobiography – Angela Y. Davis
Assata: An Autobiography – Assata Shakur
World’s Great Men of Color, Volume 1 – J. A. Rogers
Here I Stand – Paul Robeson
Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys – Dr. Juwanza Kunjufu
The Wretched of the Earth – Frantz Fanon
Witness to the Truth – John H. Scott, Clea Scott Brown
The Isis Papers – Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
Maud Martha a Novel – Gwendolyn Brooks

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