Twelve influential Bostonians describe books that changed how they think about the world around them.
Soo Hong, assistant professor of education, Wellesley College
I’ve Got the Light of Freedom
By Charles Payne
I’ve always gotten immense inspiration and motivation from the powerful narratives that come out of social movements. These movements, however, often seem to be led by charismatic leaders and forceful individuals who were destined for greatness. It wasn’t until I read this book that I came to understand how much movements - such as the Civil Rights movement - can be sustained and led by ordinary men and women. High school students, sharecroppers, and beauticians contributed to the movement by building relationships, reaching out to neighbors, walking neighborhood blocks. Through my work in Boston, I have seen how young people and their families can be powerful forces in shaping change.
Latoyia Edwards, evening anchor,
Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member
By Sanyika Shakur
I was a lucky Boston kid. I benefited from the strong Irish, Haitian, Vietnamese, Cape Verdean, and African-American influences in my vibrant Dorchester neighborhood. But there was a dark side to the diversity. Street gangs.
In the 1990s, the violent gangs held us hostage. We lived in fear that bystanders could be murdered in gun crossfire. That’s why I felt like I confronted the bogeyman when I read this book. I followed the author into the underworld of the Crips. He was jumped-in at age 11. At 13, he stomped a man into a coma, earning his nickname Monster, and eventually served many years behind bars. He was candid about the turmoil his family experienced because of him. And just when you thought he couldn’t get more rotten, Shakur finds salvation in a dingy cell.
My worldview changed forever when I accepted that redemption is possible even for a Monster.
Alberto Vasallo III, editor in chief, El Mundo Boston
Daddies & Daughters
By Carmen Renee Berry
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