Books: Non-Fiction

Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow

Book — Non-fiction. By Henry Louis Gates Jr. with Tonya Bolden. 2019. 240 pages.
Readers trace the rise and fall of racial equity during Reconstruction as increasingly violent white supremacy and new forms of oppression take hold at the turn of the 20th century.

Time Periods: 19th Century, 1865, 1877, 1900
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing

Book, Dark Sky Rising by Tonya Bolden and Henry Louis Gates JrIn Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and children’s history author Tonya Bolden provide an introduce to Reconstruction for young people ages 9 to 12.

About half of the book’s 240 pages are filled with historical photographs, illuminating quotations, sidebar biographies, and documents. The authors describe areas of racial equity achieved during Reconstruction Era, then reveal how that era ended with the rise of increasingly violent white supremacy and new forms of oppression. But Dark Sky Rising, offers a glimmer of light. Before closing, its readers discover how new Black liberation movements formed and strengthened at the turn of the 20th century when people of color were under increasing threats from the white-majority government, culture, and society.

From the School Library Journal:

The narrative covers a lot of ground — and does so at occasionally breathtaking speed. The complexity of the subject and sophisticated language will be readable for high school students but is on the more challenging end of the spectrum. The writing is at times lyrical, with repeated phrases and beautifully constructed prose. Historical quotes, photographs, contemporaneous illustrations, and other primary sources that bring depth to the history are presented throughout.

ISBN: 978-1-338-26204-9 | Scholastic Focus

Learn more in the Zinn Education Project national report, “Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction,” and find teaching resources on Reconstruction below.

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