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Lift Every Voice: The Naacp and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement Hardcover – July 28, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois prophetically labeled the central challenge of the 20th century the problem of the color-line. Six years later, in 1909, he joined black and white civic leaders and activists to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the country's oldest civil rights organization. Rejecting Booker T. Washington's Southern-based economic uplift strategy, the NAACP—celebrating its centenary this year—favored Du Bois's emphasis on complete equality for African-Americans as guaranteed by the Constitution, joining the fight at a time of deepening racism throughout the U.S. Spurred on by Woodrow Wilson's segregationist policies, the young NAACP rapidly grew to a formidable nationwide, grassroots-driven endeavor, waging campaigns in public squares, law courts, legislatures and—with Du Bois helming its organ, the Crisis—the court of public opinion. Historian Sullivan (Days of Hope) delivers a solidly researched examination of the organization's growth and influence, leaving us with a vital account of 100 years of foundational civil rights activism. (Aug.)
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A major contribution to our understanding of the political and cultural history of African Americansindeed, of America itself.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
Superb new history . . . elegantly written. A compelling, exhaustively researched account that sweeps across much of the last century.
Jonathan Rosenberg, The Christian Science Monitor
[A] vital account of 100 years of foundational civil rights activism.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
An overdue tribute to the organization most responsible for dismantling American apartheid.
A compelling story . . . includes enough action-packed material for a handful of historical novels, monographs, and biographies, as well as a few movies and a TV series or two.
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In this book, we see the struggles of a number of the NAACP leaders, various field workers, and average African American citizens and how all of these groups faced adversity in a number of ways including encountering threats by KKK; losing significant court cases; trying repeatedly to get a law on anti-lynching or on the illegality of residential requirements for voting through the Congress and/ or the Courts.
Sullivan takes us on the journey from the founding of the NAACP in 1909 through the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, WWI, Great Migration to the North, two world wars, the Great Depression, the New Deal, the school cases that culminate in Brown Decision and the impact of that decision laying the foundation of the modern Civil Rights Movement. It is an amazing journey. We become knowledgeable of the rampant lynching that occurred and yet, no federal anti-lynching legislation could be passed. "Less than 20 percent of the victims had been accused of rape puncturing a popular mythology regarding the `defense of white southern womanhood.'" (p. 75, Sullivan) She provides the history of a number of cases re: the treatment of American soldiers at home during and after both wars; the exclusion of African-Americans from many of the New Deal jobs and more than anything, she provides us with the history of black persistence and dedication to making things right.
I learned about Clarence Darrow and his commitment to the NAACP legal cases; Truman and his push, as Chief Executive, for Civil Rights however, much of his program got waylaid with the Cold War rhetoric and reactions; the leadership of Charles Hamilton Houston and Robert Carter along with well known figures such as Thurgood Marshall and WEB DuBois. The chapter on Scottsboro and the role of the Communist Party was so interesting and again, taught me much more about the landscape of the thirties. The NAACP was and is dedicated to a number of legal issues including the work on equalization of wages for teachers; and in investigating legal wrongdoings against African Americans throughout the US. All of this work was done with limited or no funding. I was so impressed with the field workers of the NAACP and the tireless hours that they gave to this frustrating, dangerous, but most important work.
It is a good read and a necessary one for every person to better understand US history as a more complete story but also for each of us to step back and reflect on the dedication of the people, who came before us, both white and black, and their courage in fighting for the rights given in the US Constitution that we, often times, take for granted
A major draw of this book is that, although scholarly in its approach, it is highly readable. Whether you are a history buff or just somebody with a general interest in the topic, Lift Every Voice will keep you interested and turning the pages. The author does an excellent job of breaking down complex court cases and issues of constitutional law into layman's terms, making these topics easily understood. I recommend this book to anybody looking to gain a deep understanding of the Civil Rights Movement and who wishes to learn about the American heroes who fought hard for racial equality. Lift Every Voice shows that the Civil Rights Movement was not an isolated issue affecting one segment of the population, but rather, a critical event which helped to steer the direction of twentieth century America.