An inspiring and eye-opening look at the unsung women of the Civil Rights Movement.
For decades, the women toiling both in the forefront and behind the scenes of the Civil Rights Movement have been overlooked. These women forced integration of schools, bus terminals, and restaurants. They organized protests attended by hundreds of thousands. They pressured lawmakers to give all Americans equal access to the ballot box. And they were doing their part in virtual anonymity and at great personal risk.
The Spirit of Freedom: Powerful Women of the Civil Rights Movement honors the incredible contributions that women made to the Civil Rights Movement. Featuring the stories of seventeen women, including Ella Baker, Dorothy Height, Ruby Hurley, Gloria Richardson, and Jo Ann Robinson, this book highlights their life stories, personal struggles, and influences on the movement. It reveals how these women overcame enormous odds, confronted sexism, racism, risk of bodily harm, and threats to their lives, to impact a movement that resulted in attaining legal equality for Black Americans.
The work of these women helped achieve the unequivocal right to vote, end segregation in public places, and open the doors for African Americans in all areas of society. Their contributions have been too-often ignored but are finally brought to life in The Spirit of Freedom.
Martin Gitlin is a former newspaper journalist who won more than 45 awards, including first place for general excellence from Associated Press. That organization selected him as one of the top four feature writers in Ohio. He has had more than 200 books published, most of them educational, including many in the realm of twentieth century American history.
Readers have likely grown up learning about civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, but what about all of the countless others who stood up for the rights of Black Americans? This work explores the stories and contributions of 17 women not often featured in the history books, but who left their mark on freedom today. This book adeptly presents backstory and definitions on the court cases, political figures, and historical moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Readers are further immersed as segregation and the Jim Crow South are vividly described to set the scene with every story. Each chapter shares the life and accomplishments of a woman during this time, featuring at least one photograph of the subject and notes of sources for the information presented at the end of each chapter. From Leah Chase feeding the movement from her restaurant, a safe haven for Black people, to Jo Ann Robinson, who fought segregated transportation long before Rosa Parks, there are incredible stories herein. The racism and sexism these women faced make for an inspiring read. A solid nonfiction historical read, with short but impactful stories of women fighting for civil rights.
Martin Gitlin’s The Spirit of Freedom: Powerful Women of the Civil Rights Movement is a fascinating and illuminating exploration of the inspiring lives and legacies of unsung Black women activists of the Civil Rights movement. It is essential reading for anyone interested in what motivates an activist, no matter their race or gender.
Gitlin's ability to spotlight such brave women who changed the course of the Civil Rights Movement should inspire all of us, and ignite courage to stand up for the continued progress of our own communities.
2/12/24, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education: This title was included in the “Recent Books of Interest to African American Scholars” feature.