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  • Words of Protest, Words of Freedom: Poetry of the American Civil Rights Movement and Era

    Editor(s): Jeffrey  Lamar Coleman
    Pages: 384
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $99.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5092-7
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    978-0-8223-5103-0
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  • Preface xiii

    Acknowledgments xvii

    Introduction. Journey toward Freedom 1

    "Had she been worth the blood?"
    The Lynching of Emmett Till, 1955 15

    Remembrance / Rhoda Gaye Ascher 17

    The Better Sort of People / John Beecher 17

    A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon / Gwendolyn Brooks 19

    The Last Quatrain on the Ballad of Emmett Till / Gwendolyn Brooks 23

    On the State of the Union / Aimé Césaire 24

    Temperate Belt: Reflections on the Mother of Emmett Till / Durwood Collins Jr. 26

    Emmett Till / James A. Emanuel 27

    Elegy for Emmett Till / Nicolás Guillén 28

    Mississippi—1955 (To the Memory of Emmett Till) / Langston Hughes 31

    Money, Mississippi / Eve Merriam 32

    Salute / Oliver Pitcher 33

    "Godfearing citizens / with Bibles, taunts, and stones"
    The Little Rock Crisis, 1957–1958 35

    The Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock / Gwendolyn Brooks 37

    Little Rock / Nicolás Guillén 39

    School Integration Riot / Robert Hayden 40

    My Blackness Is the Beauty of This Land / Lance Jeffers 41

    "The FBI knows who lynched you"
    The Murder of Mack Charles Parker, 1959 43

    Poplarville II / Keith E. Baird 45

    Mack C. Parker / Phillip Abbott Luce 45

    For Mack C. Parker / Pauli Murray 48

    Collect for Poplarville / Pauli Murray 49

    "Fearless before the waiting throng"
    The Life and Death of Medgar Evers 51

    Medgar Evers (for Charles Evers) / Gwendolyn Brooks 53

    American (In Memory of Medgar Evers) / R. D. Coleman 53

    For Medgar Evers / David Ignatow 54

    Blues for Medgar Evers / Aaron Kramer 55

    Micah (In Memory of Medgar Evers of Mississippi) / Margaret Walker 56

    "Under the leaves of hymnals, the plaster and stone"
    The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing, 15 September 1963 57

    Escort for a President / John Beecher 60

    American History / Michael S. Harper 61

    Here Where Coltrane Is / Michael S. Harper 62

    Birmingham Sunday / Langston Hughes 63

    Suffer the Children / Audre Lorde 64

    Birmingham 1963 / Raymond Patterson 64

    Ballad of Birmingham / Dudley Randall 65

    Ballad for Four Children and a President / Edith Segal 67

    September 1963 / Jean Valentine 68

    "What we have seen / Has become history, tragedy"
    The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 22 November 1963 71

    Belief / A. R. Ammons 75

    Elegy for J. F. K. / W. H. Auden 76

    The Assassination of John F. Kennedy / Gwendolyn Brooks 80

    On Not Writing an Elegy / Robert Frost 81

    At the Brooklyn Docks, November 23, 1963 / Dorothy Gilbert 81

    Verba in Memoriam / Barbara Guest 82

    Until Death Do Us Part / Anselm Hollo 85

    A Night Picture of Pownal, for J. F. K. / Barbara Howes 86

    Before the Sabbath / David Ignatow 88

    Jacqueline / Will Inman 89

    Down in Dallas / X. J. Kennedy 89

    In Arlington Cemetery / Stanley Koehler 90

    Four Days in November / Marjorie Mir 92

    Sonnet for John-John / Marvin Solomon 92

    Not That Hurried for Grief, for John F. Kennedy / Lorenzo Thomas 93

    November 22, 1963 / Lewis Turco 94

    The Gulf / Derek Walcott 95

    "Deep in the Mississippi thicket / I hear the mourning dove"
    The Search for James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, 1964 99

    A Commemorative Ode / John Beecher 102

    Mississippi, 1964 / Marjorie Mir 105

    The Book of Job and a Draft of a Poem to Praise the Paths of the Living / George Oppen 106

    The Demonstration / Gregory Orr 112

    Schwerner, Chaney, Goodman / Raymond Patterson 113

    Speech for LeRoi / Armand Schwerner 113

    When Black People Are / A. B. Spellman 115

    For Andy Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney / Margaret Walker 117

    "We are not beasts and do not / intend to be beaten"
    Riots, Rebellions, and Uprisings 121

    Riot: 60's / Maya Angelou 125

    Attica—U.S.A. / Keith E. Baird 126

    finish / Charles Bukowski 127

    Heroes / Karl Carter 129

    Revolutionary Letter #3 / Daine de Prima 130

    A Mother Speaks: The Algiers Motel Incident, Detroit / Michael S. Harper 132

    Keep on Pushing / David Henderson 132

    Poem against the State (of Things): 1975 / June Jordan 138

    On the Birth of My Son, Malcolm Coltrane / Julius Lester 145

    The Gulf / Denise Levertov 146

    Coming Home, Detroit, 1968 / Philip Levine 148

    If We Cannot Live as People / Charles Lynch 149

    Kuntu / Larry Neal 150

    Watts / Ojenke (Alvin Saxon) 152

    In Orangeburg My Brothers Did / A. B. Spellman 153

    "Prophets were ambushed as they spoke"
    The Assassination of Malcolm X, 21 February 1965 155

    A Poem for Black Hearts / Amiri Baraka 158

    For Malcolm: After Mecca / Gerald W. Barrax 159

    Malcolm X (for Dudley Randall) / Gwendolyn Brooks 159

    Judas / Karl Carter 160

    malcolm / Lucille Clifton 161

    El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz / Robert Hayden 161

    Portrait of Malcolm X (for Charles Baxter), Etheridge Knight 163

    Malcolm X—An Autobiography / Larry Neal 164

    At That Moment / Raymond Patterson 166

    If Blood Is Black Then Spirit Neglects My Unborn Son / Conrad Kent Rivers 167

    malcolm / Sonia Sanchez 168

    For Malcolm Who Walks in the Eyes of Our Children / Quincy Troupe 169

    For Malcolm X / Margaret Walker 171

    That Old Time Religion / Marvin X 171

    "In the panic of hooves, bull whips, and gas"
    Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March, 1965 173

    Ode to Jimmy Lee / Jim "Arkansas" Benston 176

    The Road to Selma / June Brindel 178

    Selma, Alabama, 3/6/65 / Louis Daniel Brodsky 180

    The Sun of the Future / Thich Nhat Hanh 181

    Race Relations / Carolyn Kizer 183

    Alabama Centennial / Naomi Long Madgett 185

    On a Highway East of Selma, Alabama / Gregory Orr 186

    Crumpled Notes (found in a raincoat) on Selma / Maria Varela 188

    "Set afire by the cry of / BLACK POWER"
    The Birth and Legacy of the Black Panther Party 193

    The Black Mass Needs but One Crucifixion / Kathleen Cleaver 197

    apology (to the panthers) / Lucille Clifton 199

    Revolutionary Letter #20 / Diane di Prima 200

    For Angela / Zack Gilbert 201

    May King's Prophecy / Allen Ginsberg 202

    Black Power (For all the Beautiful Black Panthers East) / Nikki Giovanni 204

    Newsletter from My Mother: 8:30 a.m., December 8, 1969 / Michael S. Harper 205

    [let the fault be with the man] / Ericka Huggins 206

    The Day the Audience Walked Out on Me, and Why / Denise Levertov 207

    One-Sided Shoot-out / Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee) 208

    Revolution
  • “[T]he collection gives readers a unique access to the poems as artworks. Due to the consistency of subject matter, each section highlights profound differences in poetic sensibility, technique, and voice. Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.”

    “Editor Jeffrey Lamar Coleman has combined scholarship with art. There are 14 sections to the book and each is preceded by an essay as educational scaffolding for the poems. Each essay, a small exegesis of history, describes how the poems relate. It’s a masterwork of organization and strategy. Not only African American poets are represented here, the editor points out, and the 82 poets make up a roster that could fill any poetry hall of fame. Some are dead, some venerable, some unknown, but the poems are each honored with context and framework.”

    “Poetry is an ideal artistic medium for expressing the fear, sorrow, and triumph of revolutionary times. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955-75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century – including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, and Derek Walcott – alongside lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens, this anthology presents a varied and vibrant set of voices, highlighting the tremendous symbolic reach of the civil rights movement within and beyond the United States.”

    “This marvelous collection of poems written from 1955 to 1975 brings back the emotions and memories of those times as only poetry can. The short, informative introduction to each section serves both teenagers and adults well. Teachers will want to share these fine poems with their students. . . . his is a perfect title to highlight during Black History Month or Poetry Month, and a terrific addition to school library collections all year round.”

    "This anthology will be a fascinating addition to an English undergraduate curriculum, but historians too should feel compelled to use this collection as a rich site of inquiry into ... the endless struggle ... of black life."

    Reviews

  • “[T]he collection gives readers a unique access to the poems as artworks. Due to the consistency of subject matter, each section highlights profound differences in poetic sensibility, technique, and voice. Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.”

    “Editor Jeffrey Lamar Coleman has combined scholarship with art. There are 14 sections to the book and each is preceded by an essay as educational scaffolding for the poems. Each essay, a small exegesis of history, describes how the poems relate. It’s a masterwork of organization and strategy. Not only African American poets are represented here, the editor points out, and the 82 poets make up a roster that could fill any poetry hall of fame. Some are dead, some venerable, some unknown, but the poems are each honored with context and framework.”

    “Poetry is an ideal artistic medium for expressing the fear, sorrow, and triumph of revolutionary times. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955-75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century – including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, and Derek Walcott – alongside lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens, this anthology presents a varied and vibrant set of voices, highlighting the tremendous symbolic reach of the civil rights movement within and beyond the United States.”

    “This marvelous collection of poems written from 1955 to 1975 brings back the emotions and memories of those times as only poetry can. The short, informative introduction to each section serves both teenagers and adults well. Teachers will want to share these fine poems with their students. . . . his is a perfect title to highlight during Black History Month or Poetry Month, and a terrific addition to school library collections all year round.”

    "This anthology will be a fascinating addition to an English undergraduate curriculum, but historians too should feel compelled to use this collection as a rich site of inquiry into ... the endless struggle ... of black life."

  • "America's ongoing civil rights movement reflects the triumphs and travails of struggles for citizenship, equality, and social justice. Jeffrey Lamar Coleman's insightful and illuminating work redirects our gaze toward the power of poetry in transforming the nation's postwar civil rights landscape. An essential book for students and scholars of the civil rights struggle." — Peniel E. Joseph, author of Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama

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  • Description

    Poetry is an ideal artistic medium for expressing the fear, sorrow, and triumph of revolutionary times. Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955–75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century—including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Derek Walcott—alongside lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens, this anthology presents a varied and vibrant set of voices, highlighting the tremendous symbolic reach of the civil rights movement within and beyond the United States.

    Some of the poems address crucial movement-related events—such as the integration of the Little Rock schools, the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers, the emergence of the Black Panther party, and the race riots of the late 1960s—and key figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and John and Robert Kennedy. Other poems speak more broadly to the social and political climate of the times. Along with Jeffrey Lamar Coleman's headnotes, the poems recall the heartbreaking and jubilant moments of a tumultuous era. Altogether, more than 150 poems by approximately 100 poets showcase the breadth of the genre of civil rights poetry.

    Selected contributors. Maya Angelou, W. H. Auden, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, June Jordan, Philip Levine, Audre Lorde, Robert Lowell, Pauli Murray, Huey P. Newton, Adrienne Rich, Sonia Sanchez, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Derek Walcott, Alice Walker, Yevgeny Yevtushenko

    About The Author(s)

    Jeffrey Lamar Coleman is Associate Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He is the author of Spirits Distilled: Poems.

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