Small Acts of Courage: A Legacy of Endurance and the Fight for Democracy (Hardcover)

Small Acts of Courage: A Legacy of Endurance and the Fight for Democracy By Ali Velshi Cover Image
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A captivating family history that illustrates how small actions can have an outsized political impact.

Small acts of courage matter. Sometimes, they change the world. Our history books are filled with the stories of those who fought for democracy and freedom—for idealism itself—against all odds, from Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. These iconic struggles for social change illustrate the importance of engagement and activism, and offer a template for the battles we are fighting today. But using the right words is often easier than taking action; action can be hard, and costly.

More than a century ago, MSNBC host Ali Velshi’s great-grandfather sent his seven-year-old son to live at Tolstoy Farm, Gandhi’s ashram in South Africa. This difficult decision would change the trajectory of his family history forever. From childhood, Velshi’s grandfather was imbued with an ethos of public service and social justice, and a belief in absolute equality among all people—ideals that his children carried forward as they escaped apartheid, emigrating to Kenya and ultimately Canada and the United States.

In Small Acts of Courage, Velshi taps into 125 years of family history to advocate for social justice as a living, breathing experience—a way of life more than an ideology. With rich detail and vivid prose, he relates the stories of regular people who made a lasting commitment to fight for change, even when success seemed impossible. This heartfelt exploration of how we can breathe new life into the principles of pluralistic democracy is an urgent call to action—for progress to be possible, we must all do whatever we can to make a difference.

About the Author

Ali Velshi is an award-winning journalist, host of “Velshi”, Chief Correspondent for MSNBC, and a weekly economics contributor to NPR’s “Here And Now.” He has covered multiple U.S. Midterm and Presidential elections and significant news stories around the globe, including extensive reporting from Ukraine and across Central and Eastern Europe during the Russian invasion, the Syrian refugee crisis from Turkey and Jordan, the Iran Nuclear Deal in Tehran, the Greek debt crisis in Athens, and the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. He hosts the “Velshi Banned Book Club” on MSNBC, and the “Velshi Banned Book Club” podcast. Velshi is known for his immersive on-the-ground reporting and his interactive discussions with small groups, which form part of his ongoing series, Velshi Across America. He previously worked as an anchor and correspondent for Al Jazeera America and CNN. Born in Nairobi and raised in Toronto, Velshi holds a degree in Religion and an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Canada’s Queen’s University. He serves on the boards of the National Constitution Center, the Chicago History Museum, the X-Prize Foundation, and the Philadelphia Citizen. Velshi is the author of Gimme My Money Back and The Trump Indictments, co-author of How to Speak Money and the upcoming Open Space (2025). Velshi has been nominated for multiple Emmy Awards and is the recipient of two National Headliner Awards and a Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award.

Praise For…

"With great humility and boundless appreciation, Velshi honors his family’s valor and convictions and proudly accepts the mantle of social activism, bringing tales of immigrant struggles and myriad injustices to light."
Booklist (starred)

“A journalist’s instructive family memoir provides a crash course in Indian diasporic history.”

"Ali Velshi is the soulful, smart, principled, passionate future of American TV journalism. His family’s story is astonishing and inspiring in equal measure—what a surprising and wonderful book!"
—Rachel Maddow, host of The Rachel Maddow Show and author of Prequel

“Velshi shares his noble inheritance, coming from a family of justice seekers and freedom fighters who endured British Colonialism, South African Apartheid, and discrimination, and who traversed continents to find safe harbor. He insightfully applies their ancestral lessons to our current challenges, writing in compelling, clear and incisive fashion about how to be responsible to the places we call home and the people with whom we share our planet.”
—Imani Perry, National Book Award-winning author of South to America

“A book of wisdom and humility that offers a different sort of defense of democracy, grounded in one family’s lived experience on three continents, and informed by the lesson that freedom and responsibility work together.”
—Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny

“This beautifully written origin story of one of the most brilliant and essential journalists of our time is so many things at once. It’s an immigrant story, the story of a remarkable family, and one that shows what’s possible when intellectual curiosity meets courage and commitment.”
—Joy-Ann Reid, host of The ReidOut on MSNBC

"Small Acts of Courage is that rare paradox: a concise epic. Spanning continents, generations and cultures, this beautiful book is not simply a chronicle of Ali Velshi's Americanness, but of the long, winding path that led him to it. In a moment defined by polarities and recrimination, the story he tells here of heritage and community could not be more important."
—Jelani Cobb, Dean of Columbia Journalism School

"Through the captivating, compelling story of his immigrant family’s courageous hundred-year plus journey to freedom across five countries and three continents, Ali Velshi distills to its essence the genius that is American democracy and sounds an alarm warning us of the existential threats facing it today. Velshi urges us to subscribe to the democratic process and exercise our muscle of citizenship, lest it atrophy; the growing cynicism over our national politics is a luxury Americans cannot afford at this moment when our democracy is teetering on a knife’s edge."
—J. Michael Luttig, former judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

"A vital reminder that democracy thrives on the sum of our individual actions. Velshi's narrative is both a personal tribute and a universal call to action, reminding us that no matter how small our efforts, they are all essential in shaping a fairer world. This book reinforces what I already knew from personal experience: our collective pursuit of justice is long, arduous, and often without immediate reward, but it is crucial nonetheless. An inspiring read for anyone committed to the principles of democratic integrity.”
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, U.S. Army (Retired)

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250288851
ISBN-10: 1250288851
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English