Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s



Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s

This edition

"Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s." Ed. Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer, with Sarah Flynn. New York: Bantam Books, 1990. xxviii+692 pp.

Online access

Table of contents

● Preface: Toward a More Perfect Union
● Emmett Till, 1955: “I Wanted the Whole World to See”
● The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-6: “Like a Revival Starting”
● The Little Rock Crisis, 1957-58: “I Had Cracked the Wall”
● Student Sit-ins in Nashville, 1960: “A Badge of Honor”
● Freedom Rides, 1961: “Sticks and Bricks”
● Albany, Georgia, 1961-2: “The Mother Lode”
● James Meredity Enters Ole Miss, 1962: “Things Would Never Be the Same”
● Birmingham, 1963: “Something Has Got to Change”
● Organizing in Mississippi, 1961-3: “The Reality of What We Were Doing Hit Me”
● The March on Washington, 1963: “They Voted with Their Feet”
● The Sixteenth Street Church Bombing, 1963: “You Realized How Intense the Opposition Was”
● Mississippi Freedom Summer, 1964: “Representation and the Right to Participate”
● Selma, 1965: “Troopers, Advance”
● Malcolm X (1925-1965): “Our Own Black Shining Prince!”
● The Lowndes County Freedom Organization, 1965-6: “Vote for the Panther, Then Go Home”
● The Meredith March, 1966: “Hit Them Now”
● Chicago, 1966: “Chicago Was a Symbol”
● Muhammad Ali, 1964-7 “His Philosophy Made It Impossible Not to Take a Stand”
● Birth of the Black Panthers, 1966-7: “We Wanted Control!”
● Detroit, 1967: “Inside of Most Black People There Was a Time Bomb”
● The Election of Carl Stokes, 1967: “We Had to Be Organized”
● Howard University, 1967-8: “You Saw the Silhouette of Her Afro”
● King’s Last Crusade, 1967-8: “We’ve Got Some Difficult Days Ahead”
● Resurrection City, 1968: “The End of a Major Battle”
● Ocean Hill-Brownsville, 1967-8: “Everything Became More Political”
● The Black Panthers, 1968-9: “How Serious and Deadly the Game”
● Attica and Prisoners’ Rights, 1971: “There’s Always Time to Die”
● The Gary Convention, 1972: “Unity Without Uniformity”
● Busing in Boston, 1974-6: “As if Some Alien Was Coming into the School”
● Atlanta and Affirmative Action, 1973-80: “The Politics of Inclusion”
● Epilogue: From Miami to America’s Future

Reviews and notices of anthology

● Kirsch, Jonathan. "A Stirring Saga of the Civil Rights Movement." "Los Angeles Times" 31 Jan. 1990.
The volume reminds us that "America was at war with itself throughout those tumultuous years [of the 1960s]--a war of conflicting generations and conflicting ideals." This book "has its origins in the thousands of hours of interviews conducted by the television production staff [for the distinguished PBS television documentary series, "Eyes on the Prize"] over a period of more than a decade: 'Only a fraction of the material we gathered over the last decade could be used in the television series,' Hampton explains. So Hampton, Steve Fayer and Sarah Flynn were moved to weave the unused interviews into an oral history of the struggle for civil liberties in America." "'Voices of Freedom' is something much greater than the sum of its parts, a taut and vivid narrative on an epic scale. . . . Each fragment of recollection is introduced with a short editorial aside that identifies the speaker and sets the scene for his or her testimony; each speaker is quoted in just enough length and detail to move the story along. And so each chapter becomes a kind of choral recitative."
"'Voices of Freedom' reminds us of how simple it all seemed in those stirring days when we thought that good will and lofty ideals were enough, and it reminds us, too, of how complex the problems of race and equality really are. But the real value of the book--both for those of us who lived through the ‘60s, and for those who regard it as distant history--is to be found in the evocation of the spiritual heart and soul of the civil rights movement."

See also

● "Voices of Freedom." By the Virginia Civil Rights Movement Video Initiative. 2002. DVDs and transcripts.
11 videotaped oral histories "of leaders of the Civil Rights movement in Virginia . . . Voices of Freedom focuses on statewide activities from the 1950s through the early 1970s and includes stories about the "Jim Crow" segregation laws that prevailed up until the mid-1960s; stories about the struggles to change the laws and to change public attitudes; and advice from these civil rights veterans to future generations of Virginians/Americans."
● "Freedom Song: Interviews from Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965." Curated by Michelle Kelley. American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

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