In honor of Black History Month

Two very important civil rights anniversaries take place this year – the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The booklist below includes several titles pertaining to these very important events in American History.
This Is the Day : the March on Washington by Leonard Freed

This Is the Day is a stirring photo-essay documenting the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of August 28, 1963, the historic day on which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his ¿I Have a Dream¿ speech at the base of the Lincoln Memorial. This book commemorates the 50th anniversary of the historic march that ultimately led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Never before published in book form, the 75 photographs in this volume were chosen from among the hundreds of images that Freed captured – before, during, and after the march. These images not only present us with stunning wide-angle views of hundreds of thousands of marchers overflowing the National Mall but also focus on small groups of people straining to see the speakers and on individual faces, each one filled with hope and yearning, epitomized by the beautiful young woman who throws her entire being into singing “We Shall Overcome.”

The Emancipation Proclamation : Three Views (Social, Political, Iconographic) by Harold Holzer, Edna Greene Medford, & Frank J. Williams

The revived interest in the history of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation gains force with these three new essays by distinguished scholars. The authors chart the emergence and evolution of the idea of emancipation, the political and constitutional issues that Lincoln had to address before proposing it, and the meanings blacks and whites gave to the promise of a new birth of freedom. Edna Green Medford (history, Howard Univ.) charts Lincoln’s progress toward emancipation by examining the legal, political, military, and social constraints on such a policy and the ways the Proclamation reordered war aims and political allegiances. In relating Lincoln’s course toward both the proclamation and the need for a constitutional amendment to secure the promise of freedom, Frank J. Williams (chief justice, Supreme Court of Rhode Island; Judging Lincoln) makes much of Lincoln’s legal training and skills. Holzer (senior v.p., external affairs, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Lincoln at Cooper Union) examines the visual images that shaped public perceptions of Lincoln as emancipator and of the role blacks played in claiming their own freedom. He includes the original observation that Lincoln actively promoted his image as emancipator.



Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer

Amasses nearly 150 photographs from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s, to display the impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Fifty Years in Chains: Or, the Life of an American Slave by Charles Ball.

A reprint of an 1859 narrative in which Ball describes his experiences as a slave.




Harriet, the Moses of Her People by Sarah Hopkins Bradford. A reprint of an 1886 edition of the biography of Harriet Tubman.


The Life of Langston Hughes, Volume 1, 1902—1941: I, Too, Sing America by Arnold Rampersad

Rampersad looks back at the significant early works Hughes produced, the genres he explored, and offers a new perspective on Hughes’s lasting literary influence. Exhaustively researched in archival collections throughout the country, especially in the Langston Hughes papers at Yale University’s Beinecke Library, and featuring fifty illustrations per volume, this book offers readers entrance into the life and mind of one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists.

The Life of Langston Hughes, Volume II, 1941—1967: Dream a World by Arnold Rampersad

Rampersad looks further into Hughes’ influence and how it expanded beyond the literary as a result of his love of jazz and blues, his opera and musical theater collaborations, and his participation in radio and television. In addition, Rempersad explores the controversial matter of Hughes’s sexuality and the possibility that, despite a lack of clear evidence, Hughes was homosexual. Exhaustively researched in archival collections throughout the country, especially in the Langston Hughes papers at Yale University’s Beinecke Library, and featuring fifty illustrations per volume, this book offers readers entrance into the life and mind of one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists.

Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad

The extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson is illuminated as never before in this full-scale biography by Arnold Rampersad, who was chosen by Jack’s widow, Rachel, to tell her husband’s story, and was given unprecedented access to his private papers. We are brought closer than we have ever been to the great ballplayer, a man of courage and quality who became a pivotal figure in the areas of race and civil rights. Rampersad’s magnificent biography leaves us with an indelible image of a principled man who was passionate in his loyalties and opinions: a baseball player who could focus a crowd’s attention as no one before or since; an activist at the crossroads of his people’s struggle; a dedicated family man whose last years were plagued by illness and tragedy, and who died prematurely at fifty-two. He was a pathfinder, an American hero, and he now has the biography he deserves.

Lost Prophet : the Life and Times of Bayard Rustin by John D’Emilio

One of the most important figures of the American civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin taught Martin Luther King Jr. the methods of Gandhi, spearheaded the 1963 March on Washington, and helped bring the struggle of African Americans to the forefront of a nation’s consciousness. But despite his incontrovertibly integral role in the movement, the openly gay Rustin is not the household name that many of his activist contemporaries are. In exploring history’s Lost Prophet , acclaimed historian John D’Emilio explains why Rustin’s influence was minimized by his peers and why his brilliant strategies were not followed, or were followed by those he never meant to help.


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