Race Relations
Teacher Resources

Race Relations: The Struggle for Equality in America

Illustrated by Richard Chapman
How comfortable are you talking about race? In Race Relations: The Struggle for Equality in America, kids ages 12 to 15 follow the evolution of race relations in America, from when American colonists used racial differences to justify slavery, discrimination, and the persecution of people of color until the modern-day presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Through essential questions, primary sources, and investigative projects, readers develop a comprehensive understanding of the past, present, and future of race in America.

Related Books


Library Thing/Goodreads
“This nonfiction title is just what the title suggests, detailing the various facets regarding race relations in the US and the world. It provides a broad overview of the topics related to race relations and serves as an introduction to the topic.

There are a lot of great features to this title, including questions that encourage inquire, a historical timeline of events, infographics, images that break up the text, and fun comics that provide an alternative approach to digesting the information. Other helpful features are a glossary, index, source notes, suggested reading for books and websites, and QR codes that link to relevant material. Recommended. (***** )

School Library Connection
Grades 5-8 “Part of a series called Inquire & Investigate Social Issues of the Twenty-First Century, this volume is a highly relevant and concise look at race relations in the United States over the last four hundred years. Focusing on both famous and everyday people who have fought for freedom, equality, and justice, the book also encourages readers to think about their own viewpoints with thought-provoking writing prompts and key questions. The layout and pleasing photographs and graphics make reading the book very enjoyable, and the addition of the QR codes so that readers can delve deeper into a topic with primary sources is a great interactive approach. Additional Resources. Bibliography. Glossary. Index. Table of Contents.  Recommended

“. . . While the history of Black Americans and changes in Black/white relations take center stage, Race Relations also spotlights the treatment of American Indians, Latinos, and Asian Americans.”

From the foreword by Vincent Southerland, Executive Director, The Center on Race, Inequality and the Law, New York University
“The text, key questions, and Inquire & Investigate segments force young readers to interrogate the meaning of race throughout history. They also stimulate the type of critical, nuanced thinking rarely associated with fleeting conversations on race that so often produce more heat than light.”

Praise for The Vietnam War by Barbara Diggs

Matthew Masur, Associate Professor of History, St. Anselm College, co-editor of Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War
“A great introduction to the Vietnam War for young readers. Diggs’ book is clear, readable, and engaging. She takes an important but challenging topic and treats it with fairness and sensitivity.”


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Detailed Book Description

How could a country founded on the honorable ideals of freedom and equality have so willingly embraced the evils of enslavement and oppression?

America’s history of race relations is a difficult one, full of uncomfortable inconsistencies and unpleasant truths. Although the topic is sensitive, it is important to face this painful past unflinchingly—knowing this history is key to understanding today’s racial climate and working towards a more harmonious society.

In Race Relations: The Struggle for Equality in America, kids ages 12 to 15 follow the evolution of race relations in America from the country’s earliest beginnings until present day. The book examines how the concept of race was constructed in the seventeenth century and how American colonists used racial differences to justify slavery, discrimination and the persecution of people of color. Through links to online primary sources such as newspaper articles, letters, poems, and songs, young readers will explore how race relations changed—and didn’t—through the eras of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights, and under the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

The book introduces students to people from four different centuries—some famous, some ordinary citizens—who took great risks to fight for freedom, equality, and social justice. It also fosters discussions of contemporary racial issues and social justice movements, including Black Lives Matters, and encourages students to consider steps they can take to help improve race relations.

Race teaches students about American race relations in a fact-based way that promotes empathy and understanding. Projects such as identifying the influences that contributed to the reader’s own view of other races, writing journal entries from the perspective of student of color at a newly-integrated school in the 1960s, and investigating implicit racial bias in newspaper photographs or news articles helps students to think critically and creatively about their own position and role in society and gain a broader understanding of the world they live in. Fun facts, links to online primary sources and other supplemental material, and essential questions take readers on an exploration of the past, present, and future of race relations.

Race is part of a set of four books called Inquire & Investigate Social Issues of the Twenty-First Century, which explores the social challenges that have faced our world in the past and that continue to drive us to do better in the future. Other titles in this set are Gender Identity, Feminism, and Immigration Nation.

Try these critical-thinking activities.

  • Examine statistics of racial incarceration rates vs. drug-use rates
  • Study original slave narratives
  • Organize a social justice movement
Available In:
Hardcover, $22.95
Paperback, $17.95
Includes: Table of Contents | Timeline | Maps | Glossary | Resources | Index
Specs: 8 x 10 size | 4-color interior | 128 pages
Subject: Social Studies
Content Focus: U.S. History



Where We Now Stand

Chapter 1
The Creation of Race

Chapter 2
An Interracial Fight for Freedom

Chapter 3
A Step Toward Equality

Chapter 4
Separate and Unequal

Chapter 5
Renewing the Battle for Equal Rights

Chapter 6
A Color-blind Society?

Chapter 7 
The Post-Racial Illusion

Chapter 8
Continuing the Good Fight