Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were the preeminent self-made men of their time. In this masterful dual biography, award-winning Harvard University scholar John Stauffer describes the transformations in the lives of these two giants during a major shift in cultural history, when men rejected the status quo and embraced new ideals of personal liberty. As Douglass and Lincoln reinvented themselves and ultimately became friends, they transformed America.Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than one year of formal schooling, and became the nation's greatest president. Douglass spent the first twenty years of his life as a slave, had no formal schooling-in fact, his masters forbade him to read or write-and became one of the nation's greatest writers and activists, as well as a spellbinding orator and messenger of audacious hope, the pioneer who blazed the path traveled by future African-American leaders. At a time when most whites would not let a black man cross their threshold, Lincoln invited Douglass into the White House. Lincoln recognized that he needed Douglass to help him destroy the Confederacy and preserve the Union; Douglass realized that Lincoln's shrewd sense of public opinion would serve his own goal of freeing the nation's blacks. Their relationship shifted in response to the country's debate over slavery, abolition, and emancipation. Both were ambitious men. They had great faith in the moral and technological progress of their nation. And they were not always consistent in their views. John Stauffer describes their personal and political struggles with a keen understanding of the dilemmas Douglass and Lincoln confronted and the social context in which they occurred. What emerges is a brilliant portrait of how two of America's greatest leaders lived.
In the summer of 1964, the turmoil of the civil rights movement reached its peak in Mississippi, with activists across the political spectrum claiming that God was on their side in the struggle over racial justice. This was the summer when violence against blacks increased at an alarming rate and when the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi resulted in national media attention. Charles Marsh takes us back to this place and time, when the lives of activists on all sides of the civil rights issue converged and their images of God clashed. He weaves their voices into a gripping narrative: a Ku Klux Klansman, for example, borrows fiery language from the Bible to link attacks on blacks to his priestly calling; a middle-aged woman describes how the Gospel inspired her to rally other African Americans to fight peacefully for their dignity; a SNCC worker tells of harrowing encounters with angry white mobs and his pilgrimage toward a new racial spirituality called Black Power. Through these emotionally charged stories, Marsh invites us to consider the civil rights movement anew, in terms of religion as a powerful yet protean force driving social action.
The book's central figures are Fannie Lou Hamer, who worked for Jesus in civil rights activism; Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi; William Douglas Hudgins, an influential white Baptist pastor and unofficial theologian of the closed society; Ed King, a white Methodist minister and Mississippi native who campaigned to integrate Protestant congregations; and Cleveland Sellers, a SNCC staff member turned black militant.
Marsh focuses on the events and religious convictions that led each person into the political upheaval of 1964. He presents an unforgettable American social landscape, one that is by turns shameful and inspiring. In conclusion, Marsh suggests that it may be possible to sift among these narratives and lay the groundwork for a new thinking about racial reconciliation and the beloved community. He maintains that the person who embraces faith's life-affirming energies will leave behind a most powerful legacy of social activism and compassion.
In the summer of 1964 medical professionals, mostly white and northern, organized the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) to provide care and support for civil rights activists organizing black voters in Mississippi. They left their lives and lucrative private practices to march beside and tend the wounds of demonstrators from Freedom Summer, the March on Selma, and the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968. Galvanized and sometimes radicalized by their firsthand view of disenfranchised communities, the MCHR soon expanded its mission to encompass a range of causes from poverty to the war in Vietnam. They later took on the whole of the United States healthcare system. MCHR doctors soon realized fighting segregation would mean not just caring for white volunteers, but also exposing and correcting shocking inequalities in segregated health care. They pioneered community health plans and brought medical care to underserved or unserved areas.Though education was the most famous battleground for integration, the appalling injustice of segregated health care levelled equally devastating consequences. Award-winning historian John Dittmer, author of the classic civil rights history Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, has written an insightful and moving account of a group of idealists who put their careers in the service of the motto "Health Care Is a Human Right."
In his boldest and most accessible book to date, Manning Marable lays out a new way to think about the past and the future of race in America. Exploding traditional lines of left and right, Marable stakes out such controversial and seemingly incompatible positions as the re-enfranchisement of felons, state support for faith-based institutions, reparations for slavery that systematically inject capital into the black community, and a reconfiguration of racial identities that accounts for the increasingly multi-racial nature of our society. He exhorts us to construct a new political language and practical public policies to bridge the racial divide--so that we do no less than reinvent the democratic project called America.
In Hands on the Freedom Plow, fifty-two women--northern and southern, young and old, urban and rural, black, white, and Latina--share their courageous personal stories of working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. The testimonies gathered here present a sweeping personal history of SNCC: early sit-ins, voter registration campaigns, and freedom rides; the 1963 March on Washington, the Mississippi Freedom Summer, and the movements in Alabama and Maryland; and Black Power and antiwar activism. Since the women spent time in the Deep South, many also describe risking their lives through beatings and arrests and witnessing unspeakable violence. These intense stories depict women, many very young, dealing with extreme fear and finding the remarkable strength to survive. The women in SNCC acquired new skills, experienced personal growth, sustained one another, and even had fun in the midst of serious struggle. Readers are privy to their analyses of the Movement, its tactics, strategies, and underlying philosophies. The contributors revisit central debates of the struggle including the role of nonviolence and self-defense, the role of white people in a black-led movement, and the role of women within the Movement and the society at large. Each story reveals how the struggle for social change was formed, supported, and maintained by the women who kept their "hands on the freedom plow." As the editors write in the introduction, "Though the voices are different, they all tell the same story--of women bursting out of constraints, leaving school, leaving their hometowns, meeting new people, talking into the night, laughing, going to jail, being afraid, teaching in Freedom Schools, working in the field, dancing at the Elks Hall, working the WATS line to relay horror story after horror story, telling the press, telling the story, telling the word. And making a difference in this world."
The legendary Moses of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman was a fiery and tenacious abolitionist who organized and led African American military operations deep in the Confederacy. Harriet Tubman: A Biography relates the life story of this extraordinary woman, standing as a testament to her tenacity, drive, intelligence, and courage.
In telling the remarkable story of Tubman's life, the biography examines her early years as Araminta Ross (her birth name), her escape from slavery, her activities as an Underground Railroad conductor, her involvement in the Civil War, and her role as a champion of women's rights. The book places its heroine in the broad context of her time and the movements in which she was involved, and the narrative shifts between the contextual and the personal to give the reader a strong understanding of Tubman as a woman who was shaped by, and helped to shape, the time in which she lived.
Winner of the 2020 Z calo Public Square Book Prize
A rich, multigenerational saga of race and family in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, that tells the story of how Jim Crow was built, how it changed, and how the most powerful social movement in American history came together to tear it down.
If you really want to understand Jim Crow--what it was and how African Americans rose up to defeat it--you should start by visiting Mobile Street in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the heart of the historic black downtown. There you can see remnants of the shops and churches where, amid the violence and humiliation of segregation, men and women gathered to build a remarkable community. William Sturkey introduces us to both old-timers and newcomers who arrived in search of economic opportunities promised by the railroads, sawmills, and factories of the New South. He also takes us across town and inside the homes of white Hattiesburgers to show how their lives were shaped by the changing fortunes of the Jim Crow South.
Sturkey reveals the stories behind those who struggled to uphold their southern "way of life" and those who fought to tear it down--from William Faulkner's great-grandfather, a Confederate veteran who was the inspiration for the enigmatic character John Sartoris, to black leader Vernon Dahmer, whose killers were the first white men ever convicted of murdering a civil rights activist in Mississippi. Through it all, Hattiesburg traces the story of the Smith family across multiple generations, from Turner and Mamie Smith, who fled a life of sharecropping to find opportunity in town, to Hammond and Charles Smith, in whose family pharmacy Medgar Evers and his colleagues planned their strategy to give blacks the vote.
"A must-read for anyone interested in social justice and inequalities, social movements, the criminal justice system, and African American history. An excellent companion to Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow and Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th."--Library Journal, Starred review
"I was fortunate to grow up in a community in which it was apparent that our lives mattered. This memory is the antidote to the despair that seizes one of my generation when we hear the words 'Black Lives Matter.' We want to shout: Of course they do To you, especially. In this brilliant, painful, factual and useful book, we see to whom our lives have not mattered: the profit driven Euro-Americans who enslaved and worked our ancestors to death within a few years, then murdered them and bought replacements. Many of these ancestors are buried beneath Wall Street. Mumia Abu-Jamal's painstaking courage, truth-telling, and disinterest in avoiding the reality of American racial life is, as always, honorable."--Alice Walker
"Prophet, critic, historian, witness . . . Mumia Abu-Jamal is one of the most insightful and consequential intellectuals of our era. These razor sharp reflections on racialized state violence in America are the fire and the memory our movements need right now."--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
"Mumia Abu Jamal's clarion call for justice and defiance of state oppression has never dimmed, despite his decades of being shackled and caged. He is one of our nation's most valiant revolutionaries and courageous intellectuals. "-- Chris Hedges, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt
"This collection of short meditations, written from a prison cell, captures the past two decades of police violence that gave rise to Black Lives Matter while digging deeply into the history of the United States. This is the book we need right now to find our bearings in the chaos."
--Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States
In December 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was shot and beaten into unconsciousness by Philadelphia police. He awoke to find himself shackled to a hospital bed, accused of killing a cop. He was convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that Amnesty International has denounced as failing to meet the minimum standards of judicial fairness.
In Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, Mumia gives voice to the many people of color who have fallen to police bullets or racist abuse, and offers the post-Ferguson generation advice on how to address police abuse in the United States. This collection of his radio commentaries on the topic features an in-depth essay written especially for this book to examine the history of policing in America, with its origins in the white slave patrols of the antebellum South and an explicit mission to terrorize the country's black population. Applying a personal, historical, and political lens, Mumia provides a righteously angry and calmly principled radical black perspective on how racist violence is tearing our country apart and what must be done to turn things around.
" Mumia's] writings are a wake-up call. He is a voice from our prophetic tradition, speaking to us here, now, lovingly, urgently."--Cornel West
"He allows us to reflect upon the fact that transformational possibilities often emerge where we least expect them."--Angela Y. Davis
"Have No Fear reminds us what it meant to live under a system where segregation was important enough to kill for and where being treated with dignity and respect was a whites-only entitlement." --The New York Times Book Review
"A gutsy, American patriot and treasure . . . an important slice of American history."--Dan Rather
"Charles Evers has given us one of the most extraordinary memoirs about race in America that I know. This holy sinner of the civil rights era, who kept company with mobsters, bootleggers, call girls, Kings, Kennedys, and Rockefellers has produced, with Andrew Szanton, a salient one-man's history of Mississippi and the United States before and after Brown v. Board of Education. The fascinating interplay of racial nihilism and political sagacity is reminiscent of the early Malcolm X and the mature Frederick Douglass." --David Levering Lewis
"Truly spellbinding . . . relives the fear, desperation, and confrontation that marked the civil rights struggle." --The seattle times
A moving and dramatic coming-of-age memoir of Charles Evers, one of the most colorful civil rights pioneers and brother of Medgar Evers, slain hero of the Movement. Evers led a biracial coalition which unseated an all-white Mississippi delegation at the 1968 Democratic Convention and was the first African American to run for governor of Mississippi and to be elected mayor in that state since reconstruction. His story is riveting and, working with a gifted collaborator, he has created a strong sense of time and place. Reveals new information about the Kennedys, especially Bobby who was a very close friend, and offers an up close perspective on Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders.