New York, NY–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – US Newswire)–April 20, 2004–The historic struggle for civil rights revolutionized every aspect of American life. Today that battle continues to shape what it means to be free in a modern society. In MY SOUL LOOKS BACK IN WONDER: Voices of the Civil Rights Experience (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., May 2004), bestselling author and Emmy-winning NPR correspondent Juan Williams presents the harrowing and inspiring stories of men and women forever changed by their experiences on the front lines of freedom. Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision on May 17, this book will radically transform the way you think about freedom and how it was won.
“This is not just a black-and-white story,” writes Williams. “It embraces all of us. It is the story of the human spirit rising to embrace a vision of a world in which men and women of all races are free to be themselves… Technology and economics may appear to trigger societal change, but most often the shift begins with an individual; he or she touches someone who then takes an action that, no matter how slight it seems, builds inexorably into a grand movement of people.”
Part of AARP’s extensive Voices of Civil Rights project, MY SOUL LOOKS BACK IN WONDER reaches back more than fifty years to retrace the roots of the Civil Rights Movement. B. B. King—among the nearly 50 civil rights veterans profiled in these pages—discusses his constant fight for acceptance to do what he loved: “Many times I’ve felt like I was being black twice. I got put down by white people because of my color and by my own people because I’m a blues singer.” Carol Swann-Daniels—one of two students chosen to integrate a middle school in Richmond—recounts what it was like going to a school every day where she was not accepted. “Gym was particularly horrible because we had to do sit-ups. The other students saw us as contaminated; no one wanted to hold down our feet or have any kind of physical contact.”
Other poignant stories abound: Carolyn McKinstry was one of the children at the 16th Street Baptist church in Birmingham on the September 1963 day it was bombed by the Klan and four black girls were killed. Raylawni Branch broke the color barrier at three institutions in her hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She also helped integrate the town’s Greyhound and Trailways bus stations. Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint remembers the pivotal aftermath of a brutally suppressed march in Canton, Mississippi, where in 1966 the local police tear-gassed and clubbed women and children: “’They’re killing my people,’ Stokely Carmichael said. In a rage he raised his fist and said, ‘Black Power! Black Power! Black Power!’ It went out all across the country. It was a dramatic moment, a moment that changed America.”
Initial victories in the struggle for civil rights emboldened and inspired other disenfranchised groups to demand their rights as citizens too. For wheelchair user Michele Steger, the battle took the form of street demonstrations to win access to restaurants and city buses. Feminist activist Diane Brownmiller adapted the sit-in tactics she learned during Mississippi’s Freedom Summer, 1964, to publicize what she saw as the “conscious process of intimidation” by which a sexist culture kept women in line. And Native American Suzan Shown Harjo dates the dawn of her political consciousness to the morning her second-grade teacher threw her out a second-story window for challenging his account of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
From recollections of fifty years ago to present-day struggles to advance the civil rights of Hispanics, immigrants, gays and lesbians, and people with disabilities, MY SOUL LOOKS BACK IN WONDER spells out how ripples of personal change can trigger tidal waves of social transformation. Read this intimate view of history in the making to discover for yourself just how much the battle for civil rights has profoundly touched the lives of all Americans.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Juan Williams is Senior Correspondent for National Public Radio and a political analyst for TV’s Fox News, as well as co-host of the nationally syndicated television program, “America’s Black Forum.” He is the author of three previous books: Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary; This Far by Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience; and the best-selling Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965.
David Halberstam took his first newspaper job on a Mississippi daily the summer after graduating from Harvard in 1955. He covered black student protests against segregation for The Nashville Tennessean and won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Vietnam. His book The Children profiles the young people who took the Civil Rights Movement into the Deep South.
Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans throughout her career. She is the author of seven books, including the best-selling The Measure of Our Success, Guide My Feet, and Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors. A Yale Law School graduate, she lives with her family in Washington, D.C.
ABOUT THE VOICES OF CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT:
AARP and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) have partnered for a yearlong, multifaceted project to build the world’s largest archive of firsthand accounts of the civil rights struggle in America, supported by an array of media ventures, exhibits, and special events. The archive will ultimately be donated as a permanent collection to the Library of Congress.
Mary Lou O’Callaghan
Leigh Ann Ambrosi
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