Cover image for Lighting the fires of freedom : African American women in the civil rights movement
Title:
Lighting the fires of freedom : African American women in the civil rights movement
Author:
Bell, Janet Dewart, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : The New Press, 2018.
Physical Description:
224 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Summary:
Through wide-ranging conversations with nine African American women-- several now in their nineties-- Bell has created an oral history that shines a light on their significant contributions in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights. An enduring testament to the vitality of women's all-too-often overlooked achievements while doing the work that needed to be done. -- adapted from jacket.

"During the Civil Rights Movement, African American women did not stand on ceremony; they simply did the work that needed to be done. Yet despite their significant contributions at all levels of the Movement, they remain mostly invisible to the larger public. Beyond Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, most Americans would be hard-pressed to name other leaders at the community, local, and national levels. In [this book] Janet Dewart Bell shines a light on women's all-too-often overlooked achievements in the Movement. Through wide-ranging conversations with nine women, several now in their nineties with decades of untold stories, we hear what ignited and fueled their activism, as Bell vividly captures their inspiring voices. [This book] offers these deeply personal and intimate accounts of extraordinary struggles for justice that resulted in profound social change, stories that are vital and relevant today. Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, [this book] is a crucial document for understanding the Civil Rights Movement and an enduring testament to the vitality of women's leadership during one of the most dramatic periods of American history."--Dust jacket.
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
Contents:
Leah Chase -- Dr. June Jackson Christmas -- Aileen Hernandez -- Diane Nash -- Judy Richardson -- Kathleen Cleaver -- Gay McDougall -- Gloria Richardson -- Myrlie Evers.
ISBN:
9781620973356
Format :
Book

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E185.61 .B375 2018 Adult Non-Fiction New Materials
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Summary

Summary

Recommended by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Book Riot and Autostraddle

Nominated for a 50th NAACP IMAGE Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Debut Author.

A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that plumbs the leadership of African American women in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights--many nearly lost to history--from the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize

During the Civil Rights Movement, African American women did not stand on ceremony; they simply did the work that needed to be done. Yet despite their significant contributions at all levels of the movement, they remain mostly invisible to the larger public. Beyond Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, most Americans would be hard-pressed to name other leaders at the community, local, and national levels.

In Lighting the Fires of Freedom Janet Dewart Bell shines a light on women's all-too-often overlooked achievements in the Movement. Through wide-ranging conversations with nine women, several now in their nineties with decades of untold stories, we hear what ignited and fueled their activism, as Bell vividly captures their inspiring voices. Lighting the Fires of Freedom offers these deeply personal and intimate accounts of extraordinary struggles for justice that resulted in profound social change, stories that are vital and relevant today.

A vital document for understanding the Civil Rights Movement, Lighting the Fires of Freedom is an enduring testament to the vitality of women's leadership during one of the most dramatic periods of American history.


Author Notes

Janet Dewart Bell is a social justice activist with a doctorate in leadership and change from Antioch University. She founded the Derrick Bell Lecture on Race in American Society series at the New York University School of Law. An award-winning television and radio producer, she lives in New York City.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bell, an activist with a doctorate in leadership and social change, an award-winning producer, and the widow of the famed Harvard law professor, Derrick Bell (Silent Covenants, 2004), provides a fresh and revealing oral history of the civil rights movement as told by nine African American women. Each subject describes her personal experiences and what her participation meant to her, her family, and her community. The reader is drawn deeply into the lives of these courageous women, some of whom are well-known, such as Myrlie Evers, widow of Medgar Evers; former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver; and Diane Nash of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The others, less-familiar but no less compelling activists Leah Chase, June Jackson Christmas, Aileen Hernandez, Judy Richardson, Gay McDougall, and Gloria Richardson tell striking and fascinating stories that greatly enrich our appreciation of the crucial roles women of diverse backgrounds played in the pivotal fight for civil rights.--Jackson-Brown, Grace Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Social justice advocate and television and radio producer Bell deploys impressive interviewing skills in this valuable collection of oral histories of nine female civil rights activists. They played important roles in the movement, yet, as Bell observes, "too often they remain invisible to the larger public." Her goal, which she mostly achieves, is to restore their visibility. The book does not, however, give sufficient historical context about the movement or their lives to make clear to an uninitiated reader the circumstances within which the women operated. Fortunately, the interviews are gems, full of passion and commitment ("I was shy. [But] I felt that the people in the Second Ward... spoke through me, and that allowed me to take action"). Some names might spark recognition, including Aileen Hernandez, the first African-American woman appointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Kathleen Cleaver, who sat on the Central Committee of the Black Panther Party. The lesser-known women are equally fascinating, and their experiences attest to the wide-ranging projects of the civil rights movement: Dr. June Christmas fought housing discrimination in New York City in the 1950s; Judy Richardson gave up a four-year scholarship at Swarthmore to work in a Freedom School in Mississippi in 1964. This is a valuable and enlightening companion to other accounts of the movement. Photos. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Social justice advocate Bell offers the stories of nine African American women involved in the civil rights movement. These women, many of whom are now in their nineties, discuss their upbringing, schooling, and influences. Leah Chase, proprietor of the restaurant Dooky Chase's in New Orleans, a popular meeting place for civil rights leaders, offers valuable insight into the importance of education. Myrlie Evers and Kathleen Cleaver, whose husbands were at the forefront of civil rights, took on active leadership roles in their own right. Bell also interviews Dr. June Jackson Christmas, who became a major figure in psychiatry, and Gay McDougall, who campaigned for human rights and antiapartheid activism. What these brave women all have in common is humility and a belief that through working together, African American life can be improved and changed for the better. VERDICT Through the words of these women, Bell suggests that all of us can make a difference in our communities. An important book that should be read in all schools and wherever discussion of social issues takes place.-Amy Lewontin, Northeastern Univ. Lib., Boston © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 Leah Chasep. 11
2 Dr. June Jackson Christmasp. 35
3 Aileen Hernandezp. 69
4 Diane Nashp. 95
5 Judy Richardsonp. 105
6 Kathleen Cleaverp. 131
7 Gay McDougallp. 159
8 Gloria Richardsonp. 169
9 Myrlie Eversp. 193
Acknowledgmentsp. 213
Indexp. 217