Hooks National Book Award

Celebrating the Civil Rights Movement and Its Legacy

The Hooks National Book Award is presented annually to a non-fiction book that best furthers understanding of the civil rights movement and its legacy.

2022 Hooks National Book Award Winner, Dr. Julius B. Fleming, Jr. for Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation.

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis congratulates Dr. Julius B. Fleming, Jr. for being selected as the winner of the 2022 Hooks National Book Award.

The cover art for "Black Patience" features a crowd of African Americans carrying signs which read "Freedom Now" and "Now Right Now!"

Freedom, Now! This rallying cry became the most iconic phrase of the Civil Rights Movement, challenging the persistent command that Black people wait—in the holds of slave ships and on auction blocks, in segregated bus stops and schoolyards—for their long-deferred liberation

In “Black Patience,” Julius B. Fleming Jr. argues that during the Civil Rights Movement, Black artists and activists used theater to energize this radical refusal to wait. Participating in a vibrant culture of embodied political performance that ranged from marches and sit-ins to jail-ins and speeches, these artists turned to theater to unsettle a violent racial project that Fleming refers to as “Black patience.” Inviting the likes of James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Childress, Douglas Turner Ward, Duke Ellington, and Oscar Brown Jr. to the stage, “Black Patience” illuminates how Black artists and activists of the Civil Rights era used theater to expose, critique and repurpose structures of white supremacy.

For information on the award presentation event and guest lecture with Dr. Fleming, visit our EVENTS page.

2022 Hooks National Book Award Finalists

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis selected the following finalists for the 2022 Hooks National Book Award:

  • Black American Refugee: Escaping the Narcissism of the American Dream by Tiffanie Drayton (Viking/Penguin Random House)
  • Black Patience: Performance, Civil Rights, and the Unfinished Project of Emancipation by Julius B. Fleming, Jr. (New York University Press)
  • Bertha Maxwell-Roddey: A Modern-Day Race Woman and the Power of Black Leadership by Dr. Sonya Y. Ramsey (University of Florida Press)
  • Progressive Prosecution: Race and Reform in Criminal Justice by Kim Taylor-Thompson and Anthony C. Thompson (New York University Press)
  • The Third Reconstruction by Dr. Peniel E Joseph (Basic Books)
  • Waging a Good War: A Military History of the Civil Rights Movement by Thomas E. Ricks (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

About the Hooks National Book Award
The Hooks Institute’s National Book Award is presented to a non-fiction book published in the calendar year that best furthers understanding of the American civil rights movement and its legacy.

Finalists were chosen from 45 books that were nominated for the 2022 award. The award winner will be chosen this summer by a panel of judges representing various disciplines and academic institutions in Memphis. The book award winner will speak at an event hosted by the Hooks Institute.

“The nominees for the Hooks National Book Award are an exciting group filled with individual and collective stories that capture the courage and sacrifice of well-known and newly recovered figures vital to the ongoing fight for equal rights,” said Dr. Terrence Tucker, Department Chair, University of Memphis Department of English and Hooks Book Award Chair. “These works push audiences to view the Civil Rights Movement as part of a continuum in the fight for emancipation and the dream of a multi-racial democracy that has appeared at certain points in the American experiment."

“Our finalists cover issues of leadership, democracy and criminal justice as central tenets of the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th and 21st century. They treat history as a collaborative endeavor, and their works act as the opening of a conversation. The urgent, incisive and accessible prose makes clear that the unfinished mission can, and must, be accomplished by ordinary citizens performing the extraordinary work of shaping the course of human history.”

Hooks National Book Award Committee

  • Dr. Terrence Tucker - department chair and associate professor, UofM Department of English
  • Dr. Beverly Cross - Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education, UofM
  • Dr. Aram Goudsouzian - UofM Bizot Family Professor of History
  • Dr. Charles McKinney - associate professor of History, Rhodes College
  • Dr. Ladrica Menson-Furr - assistant dean of the UofM College of Arts and Sciences, associate professor of English, and director of African and African American Studies
  • Dr. Ladonna Young - educational consultant and former Hooks Institute board member.

About the Book Award Nomination and Award Process

  • book award sealA panel of judges representing various disciplines and academic institutions in Memphis awards the annual prize to the book that best furthers understanding of the  civil rights movement and its legacy.
  • Books focusing on past or current civil rights or social justice issues, leaders, policies, etc. were eligible.
  • An award of $1,000 will be made to the author(s).
  • The winner of the 2022 Hooks National Book Award will present on their book at the University of Memphis in the 2023-24 Academic Year.


For questions or comments: Please contact Rorie Trammel, Associate Director of the Hooks Institute, at 901-678-3974 or via email at rtrammel@memphis.edu.

About the Hooks Institute

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues; implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposiums and lectures; and promoting local and national scholarship on civil and human rights. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis. Contributed revenue for the Hooks Institute, including funding from individuals, corporations and foundations, is administered through the University of Memphis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Past National Book Award Recipients

Franchise book cover2021 | Soul City: Race, Equality and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia

By Thomas Healy, Esq.
Metropolitan Books

Press Release: Soul City

In 1969, with America’s cities in turmoil and racial tensions high, civil rights leader Floyd McKissick announced an audacious plan: he would build a new city in rural North Carolina, open to all but intended primarily to benefit Black people. Named Soul City, the community secured funding from the Nixon administration, planning help from Harvard and the University of North Carolina, and endorsements from the New York Times and the Today show. Before long, the brand-new settlement – built on a former slave plantation – had roads, houses, a health care center, and an industrial plant. By the year 2000, projections said, Soul City would have fifty thousand residents.

But the utopian vision was not to be. Battered from the left and the right, Soul City was shut down after just a decade. Was it an impossible dream from the beginning? Or a brilliant idea thwarted by prejudice and ignorance? And how might America be different today if Soul City had been allowed to succeed?

Franchise book cover2020 | Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America

By Marcia Chatelain
Liveright Publishing/W.W. Norton

Press Release: Franchise

“Franchise” investigates the untold history of the cooperation among fast-food companies, politicians, civil rights leaders and black entrepreneurs in the years following the 1960s civil rights movement. This untold history looks at how the prevalence of fast-food restaurants in Black communities today resulted from a push by these groups for what they saw as an economical solution to racial disparities in America's Black communities — the franchising of fast-food restaurants in black neighborhoods by Black people. “Franchise” illuminates the power of Black-owned franchises in a larger freedom struggle while also explaining how corporations such as McDonald's have deprived genuine wealth in Black urban communities.

Occupied Territory2019 | Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power

By Dr. Simon Balto
University of North Carolina Press

Press Release: Occupied Territory

Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power, is a powerful work of history that speaks directly to our current crisis over race and policing. Occupied Territory is meticulous and engaging with conclusions that are provocative and convincing. It informs a national conversation about the racist foundations of the criminal justice system. Balto chronicles how, since the Great Migration of African Americans to northern cities such as Chicago, policing served as a brutal form of racial discipline. Despite the protests of Black Chicagoans, those practices continued over the course of the twentieth century.

An American Odyssey Cover2018 | An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden

By Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell
Oxford University Press

Press Release: An American Odyssey

An American Odyssey provides a telling biography of the artist Romare Bearden, whose iconic collages conveyed the richness and complexity of African American life in the civil rights era. As Campbell demonstrates, Bearden’s work transcended the visual stereotypes of African Americans. He situated his characters in a deep past, while employing a modernist style that was re-envisioning the black experience.

Locking Up Our Own Cover Photo2017 | Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America

By James Forman, Jr.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publishers

Press Release: Locking Up Our Own

In his remarkable book, Forman argues that the disproportionate impact of long prison sentences on African American communities was not shaped solely by whites, but in part by the exasperation of some African Americans who urgently demanded action to deescalate crime in their communities related to drugs. Forman encourages a candid examination of the forces that created draconian criminal sentences related to drugs to encourage honest and transformative reform of the criminal justice system.

2016 | We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination

We Are an African PeopleBy Russell Rickford
Oxford University Press

Press Release: We Are an African People

In the midst of the more well-studied educational changes of the school desegregation era, a handful of "Pan African nationalist" independent black schools emerged as an alternative mechanism for African-American uplift. We Are an African People examines the ideas and motivations behind these autonomous black institutions and places them within a broader discussion about how best to achieve liberation for the next generation of African Americans. Rickford's work expands upon the understanding of a very specific topic within the quest for the intellectual liberation of African-Americans and grapples with very broad questions about education, freedom and the diversity of viewpoints during the civil rights era.

2015 | Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press

Eye On the StruggleBy James McGrath Morris
Amistad/Harper Collins Publishers

Press Release: Eye On the Struggle

Morris' biography excavates the story of Ethel Payne, a journalist whose work for the Chicago Defender during her multi-decade career provided a lens to thousands of African-American readers into the action of the civil rights movement and beyond. Covering the school desegregation crisis in Little Rock, interviewing black troops in Vietnam or quizzing multiple presidents during her years at the White House, Payne's career demonstrated the role journalists could play both in helping to build a movement by informing the public and in furthering that movement by putting pointed questions to those in power.

2014 | Stokely: A Life

Stokely: A LifeBy Peniel E. Joseph
Basic Civitas Books

Press Release: Stokely: A Life

In the 1960s, Civil Rights activist Stokely Carmichael coined the phrase "Black Power" with the symbolic image of the raised black fist to embody it. A charismatic, forceful, young and brilliant intellectual with civil rights rooted in non-violent tactics, Carmichael became increasingly dissatisfied with racial inequality. This led him to more militant approaches to achieve political self-determination for African Americans. The book, Stokely: A Life, winner of the 2014 Benjamin L. Hooks Institute National Book Award, provides an illuminating profile of Carmichael's journey of disappointments, conflict, and hope for a more just nation and world.

2013 | How it Feels to be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement

How it Feels to be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement

by Ruth Feldstein
Oxford University Press

Press Release: How it Feels to be Free

In How It Feels to Be Free, Ruth Feldstein examines celebrated black women performers, illuminating the risks they took, their roles at home and abroad, and the ways that they raised the issue of gender amid their demands for black liberation. Feldstein focuses on six women who made names for themselves in the music, film, and television industries: Simone, Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, and Cicely Tyson. These women did not simply mirror black activism; their performances helped constitute the era's political history. Makeba connected America's struggle for civil rights to the fight against apartheid in South Africa, while Simone sparked high-profile controversy with her incendiary lyrics.

2013 | On the Corner: African American Intellectuals and the Urban Crisis

On the Corner: African American Intellectuals and the Urban Crisis
by Daniel Matlin
Harvard University Press

Press Release: On the Corner

On the Corner revisits the volatile moment when African American intellectuals were thrust into the spotlight as indigenous interpreters of black urban life to white America, and examines how three figures--Kenneth B. Clark, Amiri Baraka, and Romare Bearden--wrestled with the opportunities and dilemmas their heightened public statures entailed. Daniel Matlin locates in the 1960s a new dynamic that has continued to shape African American intellectual practice to the present day, as black urban communities became the chief objects of black intellectuals' perceived social obligations.

2012 | The Black Revolution on Campus

The Black Revolution on Campusby Martha Biondi
University of California Press

Press Release: The Black Revolution on Campus

The Black Revolution on Campus is the definitive account of an extraordinary but forgotten chapter of the black freedom struggle. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Black students organized hundreds of protests that sparked a period of crackdown, negotiation, and reform that profoundly transformed college life. At stake was the very mission of higher education. Black students demanded that public universities serve their communities; that private universities rethink the mission of elite education; and that black colleges embrace self-determination and resist the threat of integration. Most crucially, black students demanded a role in the definition of scholarly knowledge.

2011 | Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
by Manning Marable

Press Release: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Manning Marable's acclaimed biography of Malcolm X finally does justice to one of the most influential and controversial figures of twentieth-century American history. Filled with startling new information and shocking revelations, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America. Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism as followers of Marcus Garvey through his own work with the Nation of Islam and rise in the world of black nationalism, and culminates in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. 

2010 | Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC

Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC
by Faith S. Holsaert, Martha Prescod, Norman Noonan, Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, Jean Smith Young, and Dorothy M. Zellner University of Illinois Press

Press Release: Hands on the Freedom Plow

In Hands on the Freedom Plow, fifty-two women--northern and southern, young and old, urban and rural, black, white, and Latina--share their courageous personal stories of working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement.