Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

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Cotton Mather

Cotton Mather was a late 17th- and early 18th-century Boston Puritan minister and writer. He’s the first of the five intellectuals whom Kendi uses as guides through the history of racist ideas in Stamped fromread analysis of Cotton Mather

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was an influential Virginia slaveholder, politician, and philosopher. He’s best remembered as the main author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, from 1801–1809. In Stampedread analysis of Thomas Jefferson

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison was a white 19th-century antislavery publisher and activist. He’s the third of the five main figures who Kendi and Reynolds use to illustrate the history of racist and antiracist ideas. He is… read analysis of William Lloyd Garrison

W. E. B. Du Bois

The fourth of the five main historical figures in Stamped, W. E. B. Du Bois was a prominent Black writer, sociologist, and activist. He was born in 1868 and died at the height of… read analysis of W. E. B. Du Bois

Angela Davis

The fifth and final of the main figures in Stamped, Angela Davis is a renowned antiracist, feminist philosopher and activist. She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama to civil rights activist parents and studied… read analysis of Angela Davis
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Martin Luther King Jr.

The preacher and activist Martin Luther King Jr. was the most prominent leader of the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. He led numerous protests, marches, and nonviolent actions, but he’s best… read analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.

Malcolm X

In the 1950s and 1960s, Malcolm X was an influential Black civil rights activist and Nation of Islam minister. Although he was originally an assimilationist and then an anti-white separatist, he became an antiracist at… read analysis of Malcolm X

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States, from 1861 until 1865. Although he’s often credited with single-handedly ending slavery in the U.S., the reality is much more complicated. At first, he ran… read analysis of Abraham Lincoln

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was the governor of California from 1967 to 1975 and the 40th president of the United States, from 1981 to 1989. As governor, he got Angela Davis fired from her job, and as… read analysis of Ronald Reagan

Barack Obama

Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States, from 2009 to 2017. The nation’s first Black president, Obama won broad support by campaigning on a mix of antiracist and assimilationist rhetoric. Antiracists celebrated… read analysis of Barack Obama

Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was a prominent Black leader in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He believed that Black people should cooperate with white segregationists and work their way up from the bottom of the… read analysis of Booker T. Washington

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley was an enslaved writer in the 1700s who became the first Black person to publish poetry in the United States. She was born in Africa, sold into slavery in the U.S., and bought… read analysis of Phillis Wheatley

Rodney King

Rodney King was a Black man whom the police brutally attacked in Los Angeles in 1991. The incident became national news after a neighbor caught it on video. The police officers went on trial for… read analysis of Rodney King

Gomes Eanes de Zurara

Gomes Eanes de Zurara was the 15th-century Portuguese writer who chronicled Prince Henry the Navigator’s conquests in Africa. Kendi considers Zurara “the world’s first racist” because he was the first person to come up with… read analysis of Gomes Eanes de Zurara

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson was a Black world champion boxer in the early 1900s. Black people saw him as a crusader against racism, while white people hated that he defeated all the best white boxers, showed off… read analysis of Jack Johnson

George W. Bush

George W. Bush was the 43rd president of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. He was elected with a minority of the popular vote, which Reynolds and Kendi partially credit to racist voting restrictions… read analysis of George W. Bush

John Cotton and Richard Mather

John Cotton and Richard Mather were devout English Puritan ministers who moved to Massachusetts in the 1600s. They founded churches and Harvard University, where they taught that white Puritans were God’s chosen people, and that… read analysis of John Cotton and Richard Mather

Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson was John F. Kennedy’s successor and the 36th president of the United States, from 1963 to 1969. Johnson’s administration greatly expanded civil rights for Black Americans. However, his achievements were mostly… read analysis of Lyndon B. Johnson
Minor Characters
Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds is the award-winning Black writer—the author of All American Boys and Long Way Down—who adapted Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning into Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You for a younger audience.
Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi is an influential Black historian, professor, and activist. He wrote Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which Jason Reynolds adapted into Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.
Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey was a Black Jamaican antiracist activist who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1914. He advocated for Black separatism and took issue with W. E. B. Du Bois’s assimilationism.
Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass was an influential Black abolitionist leader. He escaped from slavery in the late 1830s before publishing his memoir and becoming an antiracist activist.
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was Abraham Lincoln’s successor and the 17th president of the United States, from 1865 to 1869. He tried to undo Lincoln’s legacy and limit free Black people’s rights in the South by supporting discriminatory laws and terrorist groups like the KKK.
Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States, from 1993 to 2001. Although he ran as a Democrat, he copied aspects of the Republican “southern strategy,” accelerated Reagan’s War on Drugs, and repeatedly blamed Black people for racial inequality.
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States, from 1945 to 1953. He pushed civil rights legislation through Congress and governed during the important court decisions Shelley v. Kraemer and Brown v. Board of Education.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States, from 1961 to his assassination in 1963. He supported civil rights legislation but was assassinated before he could help it get passed.
Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon was the 32nd president of the United States, from 1969 to 1974. He invented the “southern strategy” to push segregationist policies without specifically naming the Black people he wanted to target.
Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. An unapologetic segregationist and racist, he screened the pro-KKK movie The Birth of a Nation in the White House and did everything he could to stop Black people from gaining power or civil rights.
James Baldwin
James Baldwin was an influential, openly gay, antiracist Black writer. He’s best known for his essays about politics and sexuality published in the mid-20th century.
Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby is a famous Black comedian, actor, and convicted sex offender. His wildly popular Cosby Show popularized assimilationist ideas in the 1980s and 90s.
Sister Souljah
Sister Souljah is a Black hip-hop artist and activist whom Bill Clinton targeted in 1992 for her comments about the Rodney King riots.
Craig Ventner
Craig Venter is a prominent American biochemist and genetics researcher.
Stokely Carmicheal
Stokely Carmichael (or Kwame Ture) was a prominent civil rights and Black Power activist.