Read Until You Understand
The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature
“A masterpiece... Farah Jasmine Griffin’s magical words enchant and empower us like those of her towering heroes.”—Cornel West
Farah Jasmine Griffin’s beloved father died when she was nine, bequeathing her an unparalleled inheritance of remarkable books and other records of Black genius. In Read Until You Understand—a line from a note he wrote to her—she shares a lifetime of discoveries: the ideas that framed the US Constitution and that inspired Malcolm X’s fervent speeches, the soulful music of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, the daring literature of Phillis Wheatley and Toni Morrison, the artistry of Romare Bearden and many others. Having taught a popular Columbia University survey course of Black literature, she explores themes such as grace, justice, rage, self-determination, beauty and mercy to help readers grapple with the ongoing project that is American democracy. Joining her experiences in Black communities with her immersion in the glorious works of Black artists, Read Until You Understand is a powerful testament to the enduring wisdom of Black culture and history.
"Slim and quietly captivating... This a life lived among books, then reinterpreted through them." — Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post