This book traces the story of the civil rights movement through the written and spoken words of those who participated in it. It includes both classic texts, such as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," and lesser-known gems, such as James Lawson's address to SNCC's 1960 founding meeting.
Historian Levy has collected and organized 95 documents covering the African-American civil rights movement from the early 1940s through the 1980s, concluding with a very helpful statistical appendix. He has mined a variety of sources, including speeches, sermons, essays, court cases, affidavits, memoirs, and commission reports. The book contains the words of the mighty--Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, et al . --but also the testimony of the less famous, the field workers and foot soldiers of the movement. (With few exceptions, African Americans rather than their white allies are featured.) Although the collection emphasizes progress, it also recognizes continuing economic inequities. Broader in coverage and types of sources than Howell Raines's My Soul Is Rested ( LJ 9/1/77), this is a readable, valuable collection. Highly recommended as supplemental reading in appropriate courses and for most libraries.-- A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, Ind.