In the Shadow of Freedom: The Enduring Call for Racial Justice


Pages: 304

Binding: Paperback

In the Shadow of Freedom: The Enduring Call for Racial Justice

By: Alessandra Harris
  • $35.00


"With unflinching honesty and precise prose, Alessandra Harris expertly guides us from enslavement to segregation to mass incarceration, exposing the intellectual and spiritual schisms that allowed Christians to bless slavery, and later offically oppose it while nurturing anti-Black narratives and reinforcing racist structures. This important book illuminates why an honest reckoning with history is crucial as we build a future that is truly just." ~ Amanda W. Daloisio, co-managing editor, The Catholic Worker

"A thought-provoking work that expresses the challenge of being a Black Catholic in America. I highly recommend this work to anyone trying to better understand the struggle." ~ Ansel Augustine, DMin, author, Leveling the Praying Field

"Alessandra Harris highlights the Catholic Church's role in the papal blessing of the African slave trade, which set in motion the trajectory of present-day slavery via the disproportionate criminalization and incarceration of Black persons in the US. In the Shadow of Freedom is a clarion call to US Christians to dismantle this destructive trajectory.: ~ Matt Kappadakunnel, author, The Catholic Church and the Struggle for Racial Justice

"Harris' voice is powerful, brave, and clear - and so urgently needed in our country today. Her connection of the need for anti-racism and for criminal justice reform is a powerful indictiment of the current reality for Black and brown Americans. ~ Heidi Schlumpf, senior correspondent, National Catholic Reporter

"A wide-ranging look at the state of racial injustice in the United States . . . . The author, a novelist and a co-founder of Black Catholic Messenger, relates the 2023 story of Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old Black man with an extensive history of arrests and mental illness who was panhandling New York City subway passengers for money when a white man named Daniel Penny put him in a chokehold and killed him. “I could have been Jordan Neely,” Harris writes, reflecting that she, too, had experienced periods of homelessness and had suffered a mental breakdown. This personal resonance runs through her book, which looks at the systemic oppression of Black people throughout United States history, detailing the collapse of Reconstruction, the rise of the Jim Crow South, and the prevalence of what’s referred to here as “neoslavery” in the present day. . . .  Racial issues are scathingly addressed, but almost equally sharp is the author’s analysis of the U.S. prison system, which incarcerates 2 million people (larger in absolute numbers and by population percentage than any other country in history); she notes that 75% of people held in jails are there simply because they can’t pay bail. The cumulative effect of the work is powerfully sobering."--Kirkus Reviews

Uncovers the historical roots and contemporary impacts of anti-Black racism in America directly leading to unjust legislation, police violence, and mass incarceration. Harris’s book provides readers with an ethic and religious framework for implementing solutions and advocating for reform.


While recent bestselling works like The New Jim Crow and The 1619 Project present in-depth scholarship on the legacy of enslavement, In the Shadow of Freedom uniquely brings together the scholarship, journalism, history, criticism, and legislation to provide what many readers have been seeking: a starting point, an introduction that is both comprehensive and accessible offering readers a compelling examination of the intertwined issues of over-policing, violence, the death penalty, the war on drugs, red-lining, and racial oppression unpacking in clear terms the effects of centuries of anti-Black racism directly leading to mass incarceration.

In the Shadow of Freedom is a wake-up call for all people seeking justice and ethical – as well as religious -- responses and collective solutions to the systemic racism that continues to plague society.

Alessandra Harris earned her degree in comparative religious and Middle Eastern studies from San Jose State University and began her writing career with an online magazine for the African American Community in the San Francisco Bay area. Harris is a co-founder and former contributor to Black Catholic Messenger. Essayist, analyst, commentator, religion writer, and novelist, her work has also appeared in America, Critical Theology Journal, The Catholic Worker, National Catholic Reporter, and US Catholic.

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Click Here For The Table Of Contents

Click Here For The Book Introduction


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