The Civil Rights Reader

American Literature from Jim Crow to Reconciliation

Associate editor Amy Schmidt

Edited by Julie Buckner Armstrong

Title Details

Pages: 392

Trim size: 6.125in x 9.250in

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 01/15/2009

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3225-3

List Price: $26.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

The Civil Rights Reader

American Literature from Jim Crow to Reconciliation

Associate editor Amy Schmidt

Edited by Julie Buckner Armstrong

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Contributors

This anthology of drama, essays, fiction, and poetry presents a thoughtful, classroom-tested selection of the best literature for learning about the long civil rights movement. Unique in its focus on creative writing, the volume also ranges beyond a familiar 1954-68 chronology to include works from the 1890s to the present. The civil rights movement was a complex, ongoing process of defining national values such as freedom, justice, and equality. In ways that historical documents cannot, these collected writings show how Americans negotiated this process-politically, philosophically, emotionally, spiritually, and creatively.

Gathered here are works by some of the most influential writers to engage issues of race and social justice in America, including James Baldwin, Flannery O'Connor, Amiri Baraka, and Nikki Giovanni. The volume begins with works from the post-Reconstruction period when racial segregation became legally sanctioned and institutionalized. This section, titled "The Rise of Jim Crow," spans the period from Frances E. W. Harper's Iola Leroy to Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. In the second section, "The Fall of Jim Crow," Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and a chapter from The Autobiography of Malcolm X appear alongside poems by Robert Hayden, June Jordan, and others who responded to these key figures and to the events of the time. "Reflections and Continuing Struggles," the last section, includes works by such current authors as Rita Dove, Anthony Grooms, and Patricia J. Williams. These diverse perspectives on the struggle for civil rights can promote the kinds of conversations that we, as a nation, still need to initiate.

A superb anthology that insightfully captures the link between art and society. An important contribution to both the cultural and the literary history of the enduring African American freedom struggle, this volume showcases an impressive range of literary works that freshly illuminates this powerful struggle.

—Waldo E. Martin, Jr., No Coward Soldiers: Black Cultural Politics in Postwar America

The first collection of its kind, one that is much needed and long overdue.

—Christopher Metress, editor of The Lynching of Emmett Till: A Documentary History

In ways that historical documents cannot, these collected writings demonstrate how Americans negotiated the process of defining national values such as freedom, justice, and equality. Armstrong and Schmidt have gathered the works of some of the most influential writers to engage issues of race and social justice in America. The first of its kind, The Civil Rights Reader is an important contribution to both the cultural and the literary history of the African-American freedom struggle.

—Linda T Wynn, The Courier

The Civil Rights Reader is a unique and much-needed anthology of essays, drama, fiction, and poetry representing what is now called the 'long' civil rights movement . . . a valuable collection of important, powerful, brilliant literature, one I am grateful to have for my classroom and my shelves.

Arkansas Review

Booker T. Washington

Charles W. Chesnutt

W. E. B. Du Bois

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Claude McKay

Lillian Smith

Langston Hughes

Erskine Caldwell

Richard Wright

Ralph Ellison

Eudora Welty

Robert Hayden

Margaret Walker

Gwendolyn Brooks

James Baldwin

Flannery O'Connor

Audre Lorde

Lucille Clifton

June Jordan

Michael S. Harper

Haki Madhubuti

Nikki Giovanni

Constance Curry

Toi Derricotte

Wanda Coleman

Marilyn Nelson

Rita Dove

Anthony Grooms

Cyrus Cassells

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Frances E. W. Harper

Mary Burrill

Angelina Weld Grimké

Dudley Randall

Martin Luther King

Howard Sackler

Eldridge Cleaver

David Hernandez

Bebe Moore Campbell

Patricia J. Williams

Walter Mosley

Amiri Baraka

About the Author/Editor

JULIE BUCKNER ARMSTRONG is an associate professor of English at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. She is coeditor of Teaching the American Civil Rights Movement: Freedom's Bittersweet Song.