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September 2017 Related Resources: African American Experiences in the United States

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Wanting to dig deeper into one of our selections? We research related resources -- articles, videos, and more -- to help you expand your knowledge beyond the pages of our selections.


In an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, Colson Whitehead dives into his inspiration for his novel. 

Whitehead alludes to medical experimentation on slaves and former slaves when Cora goes to see the doctor for the first time in the South Carolina section. Experimentation was not at all unusual, unfortunately. This article shares some of the practices during the time period, many of which were not given consent. The article can be graphic for some readers. 

Whitehead stated in an interview with NPR that the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment inspired some of the events in The Underground Railroad. The experiment did not take place in the 1800s, but because he employed magical realism by making the Underground Railroad an actual railroad, he felt free to play with historical events. Learn more about these brutal experiments and their effects on the black population. 

Cora is asked if she wants to undergo a procedure that would take away her ability to have children in the South Carolina section of the novel. The doctor explains to her that many black women are forced to do the same after they have two children in the name of “population control” (Whitehead 113). Whitehead based this encounter on sterilization and eugenics programs in the United States. PBS details more about these unwanted programs. 

The Library of Congress has a collection of slave letters for the public to browse online. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) of the Works Progress Administration, later renamed Work Projects Administration (WPA). Whitehead used these narratives as inspiration for his novel. You can read some of them here 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs informed Whitehead’s writing of the North Carolina events of the novel. You can read the narrative here for free: 


The Hate U Give has been picked up to be turned into a film adaptation. Planning is in the early stages, but we do know who will play Starr and her family members. 

Another Young Adult book has been making news lately for how it gained it’s place on the top of the New York Times Best Seller List. When put into contrast with the passion behind The Hate U Give and the number of copies sold, many are questioning how the list works. 

Listen to the song that inspired the novel: Tupac’s Thug Life featuring Big Skye 

The Hate U Give was partly inspired by Tupac’s Thug Life. Learn more about the connection and the inspiration from this article from Epic Reads. 

Starr finds herself code-switching, or changing her language, dialect, or speaking style to fit the environment in which she is interacting. Learn more about what code-switching means for the classroom in this article from Cult of Pedagogy. 

NPR presented an interesting article about the act of code-switching in the media from one journalist who experiences it for himself. 

Author of The Hate You Give, Angie Thomas, says that the novel was in part inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement from their website, which provides their mission and how you can get involved.

“The #BlackLivesMatter movement is open to all races. You don’t have to be black to be part of the progress. It’s a tribe to end oppression and embrace equality. If you really believe in equality, then #BlackLivesMatters to you.” Learn how you can help make black lives matter with the tips from this article.

If you are looking for even more resources to help you work with and understand the Black Lives Matter movement, this article by Rebecca Griffin has many to choose from including ways to educate yourself and others and how to take action. 


Stella By Starlight has received high praise from several notable sources. Check out some of the accolades it has received thus far. 

If you are thinking about using Stella By Starlight in your classroom, Sharon M. Draper’s website has some wonderful discussion questions, research ideas, and writing prompts. 

After the Civil War, voting rights in the South were restricted for African Americans. The Library of Congress details the tumultuous history of voting rights in the Reconstruction era and the years following.