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Words of Protest, Words of Freedom: Poetry of the American Civil Rights Movement and Era

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Poetry is an ideal artistic medium for expressing the fear, sorrow, and triumph of revolutionary times. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955–75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century—including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Poetry is an ideal artistic medium for expressing the fear, sorrow, and triumph of revolutionary times. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955–75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century—including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Derek Walcott—alongside lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens, this anthology presents a varied and vibrant set of voices, highlighting the tremendous symbolic reach of the civil rights movement within and beyond the United States.Some of the poems address crucial movement-related events—such as the integration of the Little Rock schools, the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, the emergence of the Black Panther party, and the race riots of the late 1960s—and key figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and John and Robert Kennedy. Other poems speak more broadly to the social and political climate of the times. Along with Jeffrey Lamar Coleman's headnotes, the poems recall the heartbreaking and jubilant moments of a tumultuous era. Altogether, more than 150 poems by approximately 100 poets showcase the breadth of the genre of civil rights poetry. Selected contributors. Maya Angelou, W. H. Auden, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, June Jordan, Philip Levine, Audre Lorde, Robert Lowell, Pauli Murray, Huey P. Newton, Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Derek Walcott, Alice Walker, Yevgeny Yevtushenko


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Poetry is an ideal artistic medium for expressing the fear, sorrow, and triumph of revolutionary times. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955–75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century—including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Poetry is an ideal artistic medium for expressing the fear, sorrow, and triumph of revolutionary times. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955–75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century—including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Derek Walcott—alongside lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens, this anthology presents a varied and vibrant set of voices, highlighting the tremendous symbolic reach of the civil rights movement within and beyond the United States.Some of the poems address crucial movement-related events—such as the integration of the Little Rock schools, the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, the emergence of the Black Panther party, and the race riots of the late 1960s—and key figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and John and Robert Kennedy. Other poems speak more broadly to the social and political climate of the times. Along with Jeffrey Lamar Coleman's headnotes, the poems recall the heartbreaking and jubilant moments of a tumultuous era. Altogether, more than 150 poems by approximately 100 poets showcase the breadth of the genre of civil rights poetry. Selected contributors. Maya Angelou, W. H. Auden, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, June Jordan, Philip Levine, Audre Lorde, Robert Lowell, Pauli Murray, Huey P. Newton, Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Derek Walcott, Alice Walker, Yevgeny Yevtushenko

35 review for Words of Protest, Words of Freedom: Poetry of the American Civil Rights Movement and Era

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    This is a teaching collection, not a poet's collection, and so it contains poetry that varies widely in level of craft. While there is some beautiful work by some of the great poets of the 20th century (Aime Cesaire, Nicholas Guillen, Gwendolyn Brooks, for example) the real impact of these works is collective. And the overpowering feeling you are left by the end with is not one of victory or advance or inspiration, those cliche ways in which we tend to remember the civil rights movement. The poe This is a teaching collection, not a poet's collection, and so it contains poetry that varies widely in level of craft. While there is some beautiful work by some of the great poets of the 20th century (Aime Cesaire, Nicholas Guillen, Gwendolyn Brooks, for example) the real impact of these works is collective. And the overpowering feeling you are left by the end with is not one of victory or advance or inspiration, those cliche ways in which we tend to remember the civil rights movement. The poets, as poets should, generate a deeper response: that of rivers of blood unredeemed by what this country has since become. Most of the occasions for the poetry in this collection were murders, and those were just the highest profile murders. The sheer weight of brutal death, and of deadly power, overwhelms any sense of triumph. That is because the real struggle was an attempt to redeem and transform this society at an almost mystical level, and that has not happened. Robert Lowell's great ending line in "For the Union Dead" still encapsulates us: "A savage servility/ slides by on grease."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mjlibrary NDSCS

    Cataloging in process The civil rights movement took place largely between 1955 and 1975, although these efforts continue today. During that time emotions were high, with fear, sorrow and triumph. The movement was revolutionary, and poetry was the ideal way to express these sentiments. Here are some of the most celebrated writers of the time, along with lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens. Some of the poems address events such as the integration of the Little Rock schools, the mu Cataloging in process The civil rights movement took place largely between 1955 and 1975, although these efforts continue today. During that time emotions were high, with fear, sorrow and triumph. The movement was revolutionary, and poetry was the ideal way to express these sentiments. Here are some of the most celebrated writers of the time, along with lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens. Some of the poems address events such as the integration of the Little Rock schools, the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evars, the emergence of the Black Panthers, and the race riots of the 60’s. Key figures are also the subject of poems, while others speak of the social and political climate. Coleman is Associate Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karlan

    The editor has found wonderful poems about different major events of the civil rights movement. The introduction to each section provides an introduction or a review of what happened in a readable style. Teachers should welcome this collection with poems by the famous poets of the era. I was pleased to see two poems by Marjorie Mir, a former New York Public librarian, along with work by Robert Lowell, W.H.Auden, Alice Walker, Derek Walcott and many others.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Duke Press

    “Editor Jeffrey Lamar Coleman has combined scholarship with art. There are 14 sections to the book and each is preceded by an essay as educational scaffolding for the poems. Each essay, a small exegesis of history, describes how the poems relate. It’s a masterwork of organization and strategy. Not only African American poets are represented here, the editor points out, and the 82 poets make up a roster that could fill any poetry hall of fame. Some are dead, some venerable, some unknown, but the “Editor Jeffrey Lamar Coleman has combined scholarship with art. There are 14 sections to the book and each is preceded by an essay as educational scaffolding for the poems. Each essay, a small exegesis of history, describes how the poems relate. It’s a masterwork of organization and strategy. Not only African American poets are represented here, the editor points out, and the 82 poets make up a roster that could fill any poetry hall of fame. Some are dead, some venerable, some unknown, but the poems are each honored with context and framework.”--Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Wright

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    Quintin

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    Taylor

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    Nikki

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    Stephanie Hancock

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    Sumayyah

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    Sari Sparks

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    Brian

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    Laurie Lew

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    Oakwood School

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    Melissa Jeter

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    Briar

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    A

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    Pmr

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    John Baker

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    Caitlin

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    Michael Strode

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    Victoria Grace

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    Will

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    Michelle

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