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

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In this monumental volume, Henry Hampton, creator and executive producer of the acclaimed PBS series Eyes on the Prize, and Steve Fayer, series writer, draw upon nearly one thousand interviews with civil rights activists, politicians, reporters, Justice Department officials, and hundreds of ordinary people who took part in the struggle, weaving a fascinating narrative of t In this monumental volume, Henry Hampton, creator and executive producer of the acclaimed PBS series Eyes on the Prize, and Steve Fayer, series writer, draw upon nearly one thousand interviews with civil rights activists, politicians, reporters, Justice Department officials, and hundreds of ordinary people who took part in the struggle, weaving a fascinating narrative of the civil rights movement told by the people who lived it. Join brave and terrified youngsters walking through a jeering mob and up the steps of Central High School in Little Rock. Listen to the vivid voices of the ordinary people who manned the barricades, the laborers, the students, the housewives without whom there would have been no civil rights movements at all. This remarkable oral history brings to life country's great struggle for civil rights as no conventional narrative can. You will hear the voices of those who defied the blackjacks, who went to jail, who witnessed and policed the movement; of those who stood for and against it—voices from the heart of America.


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In this monumental volume, Henry Hampton, creator and executive producer of the acclaimed PBS series Eyes on the Prize, and Steve Fayer, series writer, draw upon nearly one thousand interviews with civil rights activists, politicians, reporters, Justice Department officials, and hundreds of ordinary people who took part in the struggle, weaving a fascinating narrative of t In this monumental volume, Henry Hampton, creator and executive producer of the acclaimed PBS series Eyes on the Prize, and Steve Fayer, series writer, draw upon nearly one thousand interviews with civil rights activists, politicians, reporters, Justice Department officials, and hundreds of ordinary people who took part in the struggle, weaving a fascinating narrative of the civil rights movement told by the people who lived it. Join brave and terrified youngsters walking through a jeering mob and up the steps of Central High School in Little Rock. Listen to the vivid voices of the ordinary people who manned the barricades, the laborers, the students, the housewives without whom there would have been no civil rights movements at all. This remarkable oral history brings to life country's great struggle for civil rights as no conventional narrative can. You will hear the voices of those who defied the blackjacks, who went to jail, who witnessed and policed the movement; of those who stood for and against it—voices from the heart of America.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Jung

    Firsthand perspectives of moments in the Civil Rights movement that we've all learned about as well as moments that were completely new to me. A fascinating and important read that builds context for the struggle that continues today. Firsthand perspectives of moments in the Civil Rights movement that we've all learned about as well as moments that were completely new to me. A fascinating and important read that builds context for the struggle that continues today.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jacryaoke

    A must read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    I haven't seen Eyes on the Prize, a situation I plan to rectify, so this book was a complete "read" for me. The interviews were clearly arranged, and the organization of the book made the through-line extremely easy to follow, far more easily than I suspect if was at the time people lived through this. All sorts of names that were familiar in my youth came back --- Medgar Evers, Louise Day Hicks, Stokely Carmichael, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Bull Connor, the three civil rights workers killed in I haven't seen Eyes on the Prize, a situation I plan to rectify, so this book was a complete "read" for me. The interviews were clearly arranged, and the organization of the book made the through-line extremely easy to follow, far more easily than I suspect if was at the time people lived through this. All sorts of names that were familiar in my youth came back --- Medgar Evers, Louise Day Hicks, Stokely Carmichael, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Bull Connor, the three civil rights workers killed in Mississippi, Andrew Young, etc, but what makes this book resound are the interviews with people that most of us have never encountered before. It was astounding to realize the sheer amount of courage that was demonstrated again and again by college student and ordinary young people, who risked their lives and futures to take part in demonstrations that transformed the nation; the voices of the young children who integrated Little Rock schools, Emmett Till's mother, the students at Howard University between 1963-1968; the list of those interviewed is immense. There are sufficient notes to follow the historical outline of the civil rights movement, but you can really do it by simply reading what people have to say. The editing is superb, distilling what must have been thousands of hours of material into a tight narrative. The cumulative effect is that these people have come together to tell a community story, and not only the black community. This is our story as Americans, something that Martin Luther King, Jr. realized early on and that fueled his rhetoric. When you combine the civil rights movement with the Vietnam War, the emergence of the women's rights, Hispanic and gay liberation movements, all of which were operating by 1969, it's a wonder the country survived the structural stress. One of the most moving parts occurs at the end (1990 publication date), when Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of a major Southern city (Atlanta) comments that he expects to see an African-American president in his lifetime. If nothing else, the book restored to me the knowledge as to how incredible it is that Barack Obama was elected in 2008, less than fifty years after Selma, the Freedom Riders, Malcolm X's assassination, King's assassination, the Black Panther Party movement, the murders of hundreds of people during the effort to make the Republic conform to its stated ideals. An incredibly engrossing read. Highly recommend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    An excellent and eye-opening oral history of the civil rights era, going well past the March on Washington. It's a great way to learn history - through the voices of the people that lived it - and this book gathers an incredibly comprehensive list of sources for its first-person accounts. Voices of Freedom could possibly be a bit more concise (it's a rather lengthy volume) but it's very compelling reading. (There's just a whole lot of it!) But then again, there's a lot to tell. A very worthwhile An excellent and eye-opening oral history of the civil rights era, going well past the March on Washington. It's a great way to learn history - through the voices of the people that lived it - and this book gathers an incredibly comprehensive list of sources for its first-person accounts. Voices of Freedom could possibly be a bit more concise (it's a rather lengthy volume) but it's very compelling reading. (There's just a whole lot of it!) But then again, there's a lot to tell. A very worthwhile and enlightening read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This is an amazing book that I think everyone should read. It has stories from the actual people involved in the civil rights movements. Their thoughts, their actual encounters, basically their side of the story. It was an emotional time for many people and I don't think most other books touch on this. Very powerful! This is an amazing book that I think everyone should read. It has stories from the actual people involved in the civil rights movements. Their thoughts, their actual encounters, basically their side of the story. It was an emotional time for many people and I don't think most other books touch on this. Very powerful!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    #UnderstandingOppression Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s Through the 1980s by Henry Hampton | The creator and a writer of the acclaimed public TV series Eyes on the Prize draws upon 1,000 interviews with those who took part in the marches, sit-ins and Freedom Rides. #civilrightsmovement

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joy Galston

    An 'easy to read' and thorough rendition of the events of the civil rights movement, with voices from a wide variety of viewpoints. Brings the events right into focus, be prepared for a lot of adrenalin rushes, incredulity and amazement at the actions of 'average' citizens on both sides of the fight. An 'easy to read' and thorough rendition of the events of the civil rights movement, with voices from a wide variety of viewpoints. Brings the events right into focus, be prepared for a lot of adrenalin rushes, incredulity and amazement at the actions of 'average' citizens on both sides of the fight.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    Incredible stories from the people on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Selika

    Excellent!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    First rate. This is by far the best work I've read on the Civil Rights movement. A very rare 5 stars. First rate. This is by far the best work I've read on the Civil Rights movement. A very rare 5 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Doris Raines

    Where. Would. We. Be. Without. History. Doris.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    The book is long

  13. 4 out of 5

    Will Lashley

    First person accounts of the Civil Rights movement at the midcentury crescendo of its catalytic challenge to the American social order. Henry Hampton, who created the PBS series "Eyes on the Prize" is one of the editors, and the companion book produced for the documentary series is also excellent, but this could just as well stand as the essential complement to the films. First person accounts of the Civil Rights movement at the midcentury crescendo of its catalytic challenge to the American social order. Henry Hampton, who created the PBS series "Eyes on the Prize" is one of the editors, and the companion book produced for the documentary series is also excellent, but this could just as well stand as the essential complement to the films.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    This is the most amazing literary curatorial feat I have ever experienced. I wish everyone had the opportunity to read this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Smoppet

    TW// Anti-semitism I'm glad I bought this book. I was searching around Half Priced for some other Civil Rights Movement literature but ended up with this one after not finding what I was looking for. This book gives a much better picture of the Movement than I had obtained from textbooks in primary and high school. And it was alluring to read people's own accounts of what was going on around them. It's particularly relevant to me in 2020 as I see the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement. TW// Anti-semitism I'm glad I bought this book. I was searching around Half Priced for some other Civil Rights Movement literature but ended up with this one after not finding what I was looking for. This book gives a much better picture of the Movement than I had obtained from textbooks in primary and high school. And it was alluring to read people's own accounts of what was going on around them. It's particularly relevant to me in 2020 as I see the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The only reason I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is that there's a small instance of antisemitism from a couple of people in Ch 26. They claim that Semites were actually African, effectively saying, "How can you call us antisemitic when these people aren't actually Semites?" and while the editors state that they're not necessarily endorsing anyone's views, I had a feeling I was supposed to be sympathizing with these people, which for the most part, I did? I was also a little disappointed in the lack of inclusion of LGBT+ people. The Stonewall Riots happened in '69 and were led by black leaders like Marsha P. Johnson. Also, Angela Davis is lesbian, but there was no metion of that when she was introduced.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bud

    This book was made as a companion to a television series, Eyes on the Prize. It gives interview transcripts from eyewitnesses to the critical events of the Civil Rights movement from the 1950's through the 1980's. It allows you to decide for yourself what the real story is. This book was made as a companion to a television series, Eyes on the Prize. It gives interview transcripts from eyewitnesses to the critical events of the Civil Rights movement from the 1950's through the 1980's. It allows you to decide for yourself what the real story is.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meaghan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily Davis

  19. 4 out of 5

    Wallerballer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hector

  21. 4 out of 5

    JJ Miguel

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

  23. 5 out of 5

    Doug

  24. 5 out of 5

    Todd

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

  26. 5 out of 5

    April Brown

  27. 4 out of 5

    Selene

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Kimelman

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dana M.

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