An uplifting collection of speeches by African American women, curated by the civil and human rights activist, scholar, and author
“Bell reminds readers that one story is never enough to truly explain a movement.” —Shelf Awareness
When Mary Ann Shadd Cary—the first Black woman publisher in North America—declared, “break every yoke . . . let the oppressed go free” to congregants in Chatham, Canada, in 1858, she joined a tradition of African American women speaking for their own liberation. Drawing from a rich archive of political speeches, acclaimed activist and author Janet Dewart Bell, the author ofLighting the Fires of Freedom, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, explores this tradition inBlackbirds Singing.
Gathering an array of recognized names as well as new discoveries, Bell curates two centuries of stirring public addresses by Black women, from Harriet Tubman and Ella Baker to Barbara Lee and Barbara Jordan. These magnificent speakers explore ethics, morality, courage, authenticity, and leadership, highlighting Black women speaking truth to power in service of freedom and justice.
With an expansive historical lens,Blackbirds Singingcelebrates the tradition of Black women’s political speech and labor, allowing the voices and powerful visions of African American women to speak across generations building power for the world.