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Voices of Freedom


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About the Author

Henry Hampton, who died in 1998, was the creator and executive producer of Eyes on the Prize, one of more than 40 film projects he developed with his company Blackside, Inc., the largest African-American-owned film production company of its time. Hampton became one of the world's most respected documentary filmmakers as he chronicled the 20th century's great political and social movements, focusing on the lives of the poor and disenfranchised.

Steve Fayer was the series writer for Eyes on the Prize.


The PBS series Eyes on the Prize, parent to a narrative history of the U.S. civil right movement (of the same name, LJ 1/87), now begets a second book, excerpts from the project's interview bank. The book's 32 episodes, starting with the 1955 Emmett Till lynching, include triumphs like Selma and Birmingham alongside the Detroit riots of 1967, Attica, the Black Panthers, and other legacies tragic or ambiguous. The cross-currents and complexities of history are well attended to--as Andrew Young and Stokely Carmichael, for example, argue the role of whites--in the voices of some who won fame, many who did not, and a few who opposed the movement. The selections are brief, cleanly edited with light annotation, and wider ranging than those of another fine oral history, Howell Raines's My Soul is Rested (LJ 9/1/77). Recommended for general readers. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/89.-- Robert F. Nardini, N. Chichester, N.H.

YA-- This collection of remembrances and personal anecdotes is based on 1000 interviews and records 30 years of the struggle to achieve equality and gain civil rights for black people. Ordinary people who fought to attain their civil rights are recorded here, as well as the more well-known leaders on the civil rights front. From Selma, Little Rock, King's crusades, and the Boston school busing, to Miami, Atlanta, Cassius Clay, and Affirmative Action, both blacks and whites tell how they felt during these significant moments in history. This book, a companion to the PBS series Eyes on the Prize, is a ``must purchase'' for black history collections. --Gwen Salama, Hastings High School, Alief, I.S.D., TX

As the authors graphically show, participating in civil rights marches, sit-ins and Freedom Rides took moral stamina and raw nerve. The heroines and heroes of the movement receive a stirring tribute in this oral history, a tie-in to the TV series Eyes on the Prize , which Hampton produced and Fayer wrote. The book is organized in 31 chapters around key events, with demonstrators offering complementary perspectives. We hear from ordinary people along with well-known activists Ralph Abernathy, Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson and Stokely Carmichael; public officials John Conyers and Nicholas Katzenbach; Black Panthers Huey Newton and Bobby Seale; Alex Haley, Coretta Scott King, Ossie Davis, Tom Hayden, Michael Harrington, Harry Belafonte. Collectively the testimonies reveal how far America has progressed in the drive for equality and how far it still has to go. History Book Club and QPB selections; author tour. (Feb.)

"Something much greater than the sum if its parts, a taut and vivid narrative on an epic scale--compelling--marvelously diverse.
-- Los Angeles Times

"A vast choral pageant that recounts the momentous work of t he civil rights struggle."
-- The New York Times Book Review "Utterly fascinating. Voices of Freedom tells the greatest American story ever told. These voices are extraordinary. So is the book."
-- Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides "Through the words of the victims, the villains, and the victorious, who together changed the course of America's sadly racist history. Voices of Freedom gives us the opportunity to glimpse the shining spirits of our heroic people, black and white, female and male, often through chuckles and often through tears."
--Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

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