Black Power in a Prison Library

35 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2017 Last revised: 23 Apr 2017

Date Written: February 1, 2017


"Black Power in a Prison Library" focuses on a list of 90 books on the black experience in America that were ordered added to the Marion, Ohio Correctional Institution in 1972. It uses the list as a way of gauging what books the plaintiffs (and thus the court) thought were essential to telling the African American experience. And in that way, we can use the list to reconstruct the contours of the bibliographic world of the African American experience in the early 1970s. The list reflects an interest in history of slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and contemporary works on Black Power. Notably thin is prison literature. Together the books help form a picture of the critique of law made by Black Power writers and the ways those claims built on historical, sociological, and civil rights literature. The book list, thus, suggests some of the ways that books propagated and gave definition to Black Power claims.

Suggested Citation

Brophy, Alfred L., Black Power in a Prison Library (February 1, 2017). Howard Law Journal, 2017, UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2901475, Available at SSRN: or

Alfred L. Brophy (Contact Author)

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