ISBN-10:
0820331813
ISBN-13:
9780820331812
Pub. Date:
01/15/2009
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
The Civil Rights Reader: American Literature from Jim Crow to Reconciliation

The Civil Rights Reader: American Literature from Jim Crow to Reconciliation

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Overview

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 In ways that historical documents cannot, these collected writings show how Americans negotiated this process—politically, philosophically, emotionally, spiritually, and creatively.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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820331812
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 01/15/2009
Pages: 392
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

AMY SCHMIDT is completing a doctoral degree in English at the University of Arkansas.

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.

CHARLES W. CHESNUTT, born in 1858, is generally acknowledged as the first publicly acclaimed African American novelist. Between 1885 and 1905 he published more than fifty tales and essays, two collections of short stories, a biography of Frederick Douglass, and three novels.

LILLIAN SMITH (1897-1966) was a writer, teacher, lecturer, and civil rights activist. Born in Florida, Smith spent much of her life in Georgia. She is the author of seven books, including Killers of the Dream, Strange Fruit, and One Hour, and was also the founding editor of the magazine South Today.

ERSKINE CALDWELL (1903-1987) was born in Newnan, Georgia. He became one of America's most widely read, prolific, and critically debated writers, with a literary output of more than sixty titles. At the time of his death, Caldwell's books had sold eighty million copies worldwide in more than forty languages. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1984.

MARGARET WALKER (1915-1998) wrote poetry, essays, the novel Jubilee, and a biography of Richard Wright. She created pioneering programs in the humanities and African American studies at Jackson State University, where she was a faculty member for almost three decades.

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