“Why We Can’t Wait,” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., published by Signet Press, 2000, 166 pages
This reissue of the seminal text originally published in 1964 by the renowned civil rights activist explores the intensity of racism and segregation in America.
“The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours,” by Marian Wright Edelman, published by Beacon Press, 2013, 97 pages
Couched in the form of letters to her sons, this New York Times bestseller is a profound accounting of Edelman’s thoughts on parenting and life.
“Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison,” by Nell Bernstein, published by The New Press, 2014, 386 pages
This compelling appeal calls for the end of the growth of the juvenile prison complex and creation of alternative, more rehabilitative institutions.
“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t,” by Jim Collins, published by Harper Business, 2011, 300 pages
An exploration of the key attributes that allow some companies to thrive while others fail.
“Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding,” by Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters, published by Atria Books, 2015, 305 pages
A diverse cohort of African-American men share how they achieved success and what makes a successful life.
“I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By The Taliban,” by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb, published by Little, Brown & Company, 2013, 289 pages
The stunning story of a young girl who turned the horrific act of violence inflicted upon her into a global campaign for education and empowerment of girls and women, and became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Alex M. Johnson is executive director of the California office of the Children’s Defense Fund. Johnson oversees the organization’s $2.6 million budget and 16-member full-time staff. Johnson served as assistant senior deputy for education and public safety to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. He has also spearheaded a special teacher quality initiative for the New York City Department of Education and taught constitutional law at the City University of New York. He holds a Juris Doctorate from American University’s Washington School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College. Johnson is the author of “Beyond Higher Education: The Need for African-Americans to be Knowledge Producers.”
Editor's note: This story was updated July 28, 2016.