Say It Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches


by Catherine Ellis (Editor), Stephen Drury Smith (Editor)

A moving portrait of how black Americans have spoken out against injustice―with speeches by Thurgood Marshall, Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, and more.

In “full-throated public oratory, the kind that can stir the soul”, this unique anthology collects the transcribed speeches of the twentieth century’s leading African American cultural, literary, and political figures, many never before available in printed form (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).

From an 1895 speech by Booker T. Washington to Julian Bond’s sharp assessment of school segregation on the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board in 2004, the collection captures a powerful tradition of oratory―by political activists, civil rights organizers, celebrities, and religious leaders―going back more than a century.

Including the text of each speech with an introduction placing it in historical context, Say It Plain is a remarkable record―from the back-to-Africa movement to the civil rights era and the rise of black nationalism and beyond―conveying a struggle for freedom and a challenge to America to live up to its democratic principles.

Includes speeches by:

  • Mary McLeod Bethune
  • Julian Bond
  • Stokely Carmichael
  • Shirley Chisholm
  • Louis Farrakhan
  • Marcus Garvey
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Walter White

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