Friday, November 20, 2020

Voices of Freedom


Recently, I re-read a book which was important to us over 25 years ago.


Voices of freedom: an oral history of the civil rights movement from the 1950s through the 1980s By: Fayer, Steve; Flynn, Sarah; Hampton, Henry.


When Congressman John Lewis died earlier this year, a friend wrote to me, talking about Lewis’s heroism.


I knew I should know him, but I couldn’t remember. My daughter Sarah told me, “A famous leader in the civil rights movement.”


My husband Murray reminded me of the book I’d read and bought for him over 25 years ago, VOICES OF FREEDOM.


I remembered the book and decided I’d like to read it again. It was published in 1990, but it is still available as a kindle book.


This book is an oral history of the civil rights movement, taken from interviews for the TV show “Eyes to the Prize.” The book covers mostly the 1950s through the 80s, but it goes back to the beginning of the United States, disagreements over slavery from the beginning, and those who fought for rights of Black people throughout the country’s history.


Some storied included:


The Montgomery bus boycott, 1955-56. School desegregation in Little Rock Arkansas, Central High School.


In 1959-60, student sit-ins for lunch counters. They had workshops to prepare for this with non-violence, how to protect their heads from beatings, how to protect each other, how to not strike back when they were hit, how to show respect for the workers in the restaurants. This is where I first heard of John Lewis, in 1960 when he was a twenty-year-old college student in Nashville.


The Freedom Ride of 1961, where we again met John Lewis. Both blacks and whites joining together on interstate bus rides.


The beginning of SNCC, Student Non-Violent Coordination Committee.


James Meredith, the first black student to attend Old Miss in 1962, the University of Mississippi.


In 1963, the March on Washington, with speeches from both John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


1963, the bombing of a church in Birmingham with the death of four children.


1965, Selma, Alabama bridge, marching from Selma to Montgomery.


The Voting Rights Act, signed in August, 1965.


1967-68, Dr. Martin Luther King’ Jr.’s last work and assassination.


1970-71 prison uprising in New York State, call for reform.


In 1972 Gary, Indiana, they held a Black Political Convention—Unity Without Uniformity.


Other issues discussed were bussing, affirmative action, Equal Opportunity, better housing, better education.


This is a book of history, but recent history, and I believe, a very important issue for us to think about right now. It’s important to remember these people who worked so hard and gave so much. I pray and ask God for wisdom to help us to find peace in our own times.


Others mentioned in the book: Emmett Till; Ralph Abernathy; Daisy Bates; Medgar Evers; Fred Shuttlesworth; A. Philip Randolph; Fannie Lou Hamer; Bob Moses; Amelia Bointon Robinson; Stokely Carmichael; Huey Newton; Sonia Sanchez; Roger Wilkins; Paula Giddings; Marian Logan; William O’Neal; Elliott James Barkley; Jesse Jackson; Ben Chavis; Richard Hatcher; Ron Walters; Phyllis Ellison; Ethel Mae Matthews; Maynard Jackson; Yusef Hawkins. 


  1. Yes, John Lewis was amazing! I taught Leadership to the international military and came across John Lewis. I learned so much about courage, purpose, cause/effect and leadership through his actions. My international military groups did too, and it opened up their own stories. I hope we can move closer to peace, too. Love, Amy

  2. "Peace in our time." I remember those buzz words - oh how I wish they would ring out now!! Interesting to note how many pastors started or joined peaceful marches. I pray the spirit of peace and unity would invade us again!

    Thank you for this post, Kathy! :)

  3. Wow, what a read.

    I remember some of these names.

    At the time it all seemed so far away. Because it was far away.

    Although I descend from abolitionists and underground railroaders, I grew up in a little white village.

    These many years later, after seeing life in other places and making close friends of various skin color, I probably should take time to read these views of my own history that took place so far from my boyhood home.

    Thank you for showing us this bit.