Will of a People: A Critical Anthology of Great African American Speeches, The



Will of a People: A Critical Anthology of Great African American Speeches, The

This edition

"The Will of a People: A Critical Anthology of Great African American Speeches" . Ed. Richard W. Leeman and Bernard K. Duffy. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2012. ix+212 pp. $49.95

Table of contents

Acknowledgments (x)
Richard W. Leeman and Bernard K. Duffy / Introduction (1-9)
Maria W. Miller Stewart / Lecture, Delivered at the Franklin Hall (Why Sit Ye Here and Die?) (1832) (editors' introduction, 10-16; text of speech, 17-21)
Henry Highland Garnet / An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America (Speech to the National Convention of Colored Citizens) (1843) (editors' introduction, 22-29; text of speech, 30-37)
Sojourner Truth / A'n't I a Woman? (Speech at the Women's Rights Convention) (1851) (editors' introduction, 38-45; text of speech, 46-48)
Frederick Douglass / What to the American Slave is the Fourth of July? (1852) (editors' introduction, 49-56; text of speech, 57-82)
Henry McNeal Turner / I Claim the Rights of a Man (Speech to the Georgia State Legislature) (1868) (editors' introduction, 83-91; text of speech, 92-110)
Frederick Douglass / Oration on the Occasion of the Dedication of the Lincoln Monument (1876) (editors' introduction, 111-21; text of speech, 122-32)
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper / Duty to Dependent Races (Speech to the National Council of Women of the United States) (1891) (editors' introduction, 133-41; text of speech, 142-48)
Ida B. Wells-Barnett / Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1893) (editors' introduction, 149-57; text of speech, 158-73)
Booker T. Washington / Atlanta Exposition Address (1895) (Cotton States Exposition Address) (editors' introduction, 174-83; text of speech, 184-87)
Mary Church Terrell / What It Means to Be Colored in the Capital of the United States (1906) (editors' introduction, 188-95; text of speech, 196-204)
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois / Disfranchisement (1912) (editors' introduction, 205-13; text of speech, 214-20)
Marcus Mosiah Garvey / The Principles of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (1922) (editors' introduction, 221-30; text of speech, 231-39)
Vernon Johns / Rock Foundations (1926) (editors' introduction, 240-47; text of speech, 248-53)
Martin Luther King, Jr. / I Have a Dream (1963) (editors' introduction, 254-63; text of speech, 264-67)
Malcolm X / The Ballot or the Bullet (1964) (editors' introduction, 268-76; text of speech, 277-94)
Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) / Black Power (1966) (editors' introduction, 295-303; text of speech, 304-19)
Martin Luther King, Jr. / A Time to Break Silence (1967) (editors' introduction, 320-29; text of speech, 330-45)
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm / It Is Time to Reassess Our National Priorities (1969) (editors' introduction, 346-52; text of speech, 353-56)
Barbara Charline Jordan / Speech on Watergate to the House Judiciary Committee (1974) (editors' introduction, 357-66; text of speech, 367-71)
Jesse Louis Jackson / Speech to the Democratic National Convention (The Rainbow Coalition) (1984) (editors' introduction, 372-81; text of speech, 382-93)
Marian Wright Edelman / Children's Legislative Issues (Speech to the National Education Association) (1985) (editors' introduction, 394-401; text of speech, 402-11)
Barack Hussein Obama / Inaugural Address (2009) (editors' introduction, 412-22; text of speech, 423-28)
Notes (431-45)
Sources (447-48)
Index (449-53)
Biographical Notes on Editors (454)

About the anthology

• Publisher's description:
"Drawing upon nearly two hundred years of recorded African American oratory, "The Will of a People: A Critical Anthology of Great African American Speeches", edited by Richard W. Leeman and Bernard K. Duffy, brings together in one unique volume some of this tradition's most noteworthy speeches, each paired with an astute introduction designed to highlight its most significant elements. Arranged chronologically, from Maria Miller Stewart's 1832 speech 'Why Sit Ye Here and Die?' to President Barack Obama's 2009 inaugural address, these orations are tied to many of the key themes and events of American history, as well as the many issues and developments in American race relations. These themes, events, and issues include the changing roles of women, Native American relations, American 'manifest destiny,' abolitionism, the industrial revolution, Jim Crow, lynching, World War I and American self-determination, the rise of the New Deal and government social programs, the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation, the Vietnam War, Nixon and Watergate, gay and lesbian rights, immigration, and the rise of a mediated culture. Leeman and Duffy have carefully selected the most eloquent and relevant speeches by African Americans, including those by Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Booker T. Washington, Mary Church Terrell, W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Barbara Jordan, Jesse Jackson, and Marian Wright Edelman, many of which have never received significant scholarly attention. "The Will of a People" is the first book to pair the full texts of the most important African American orations with substantial introductory essays intended to guide the reader's understanding of the speaker, the speech, its rhetorical interpretation, and the historical context in which it occurred. Broadly representative of the African American experience, as well as what it means to be American, this valuable collection will serve as an essential guide to the African American oratory tradition" (MLAIB).
• Back cover: (full text)
"Nothing less than the canon of African American eloquence! The speeches in "The Will of a People" brilliantly articulate the immense moral authority of the freedom struggle. They reveal much about America's changing conceptions of hierarchy, equality, caste and class, and our national obsession with race" – Andrew King, Hopkins Professor of Communication, Louisiana State University
"Professors Leeman and Duffy have once again brought together a selection of important rhetorical artifacts. This volume will be required readng for all students and scholars of the theory, history, and criticism of public address who are interested in the transformative powers of the spoken word." – Mark Lawrence McPhail, author of "The Rhetoric of Racism Revisited: Reparations or Separation?"
"Drawing upon nearly two hundred years of recorded African American oratory, "The Will of a People" brings together in one unique volume twenty-two of the most noteworthy speeches, each paired with a comprehensive introduction designed to highlight its most significant elements. From Maria Miller Stewart's 1832 speech 'Why Sit Ye Here and Die?' to President Barack Obama's 2009 inaugural address, these carefully selected orations are closely tied to the key themes, issues, and events of American history and race relations. This substantial collection will serve as an essential guide to the African American oratorical tradition."
"*Richard W. Leeman*, a professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is the author or editor of five books, including "African-American Orators: A BioCritical Sourcebook" (1996) and (with Bernard Duffy) "American Voices: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Orators" (2005). He has received several awards and has served as a scholar-in-residence for an NEH-sponsored summer seminar on African American oratory."
"*Bernard K. Duffy*, a professor of rhetoric in the communication studies department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, is the author or editor of six books, including "American Orators of the Twentieth Century: Critical Studies and Sources" (1987), and has been a coeditor or an advisor for thirty-two books on individual American orators published by Greenwood Press."

Reviews and notices of anthology

• Gaffin, Virgilette. "Making Connections" 14.1 (2013): 72-74. "EBSCOhost".
Gaffin praises the anthology for bringing together a striking set of speeches by African Americans, but she finds fault for the "Eurocentric" inflection of the editors' introduction: "the first name in the text is Cicero, then Shakespeare (mentioned more than once) and Gunnar Myrdal—why? Why not an African or African American philosopher, playwright, or sociologist? Why not make "The Will of a People: A Critical Anthology of Great African American Speeches" a totally African American experience? . . . // Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson or W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington would have been better suited in this anthology than Cicero and Shakespeare" (73-74).
[*Note:* Whatever the merits of Gaffin's "Afrocentric" vision, there is an irony in her invocation of Du Bois as an alternative to Cicero and Shakespeare, Du Bois, who, in "The Souls of Black Folk", uses the myth of Atalanta and Hipomenes to speak of the aims of education ("On the Wings of Atalanta") and who writes: "I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out of the caves of evening . . . I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the Veil" ("Of the Training of Black Men"). Of course, one might add there is an irony also in Du Bois's claim that the figures of the European intellectual tradition from Aristotle to Kant and on to the writers and thinkers of the early 20th century approach black people without scorn or condescension! It seems clear that critical engagement "and" cultivation of alternative perspectives of one's own—the latter in part through the former—is preferable to any more single-minded perspective.]
• King, Cynthia P. "Howard Journal of Communications" 25.2 (2014): 231-33. "EBSCOhost".
King remarks that the speeches included in the anthology are familiar and predictable enough (231), but they are nonetheless representative of their tradition: the anthology presents "canonical African American oratory under a single cover" (233). "Apropos of the volume's title, the tenacious will of Black orators who shamed and challenged the nation to live up to its ideals is a theme in the story of American progress implicit in the orations collectively" (231). The critical introductions that accompany each selection are "exemplary models for performing basic rhetorical analysis." Each introductory essay follows a similar structure: "an engaging opening that orients the reader to the speaker's background; the exigency and goal for the oration; a thesis that encapsulates central rhetorical strategies [found in the oration], and a discussion of those strategies supported with an abundance of textual evidence" (232). The anthology is, thus, "a valuable teaching resource" (232).

Item Number


Item sets