This comprehensive anthology will be the standard source for the
study of African American public address for years to come.
For Americans of the 19th century, as W. E. B. Du Bois observed, eloquent
speeches were 'the shining lights of civilization' that both expressed
and sought to improve the lives and communities from which they sprang.
Through political speeches, sermons, lectures, oral testimonies, and ceremonial
addresses, African Americans offered diverse responses to the issues and
events of their times, including not only slavery and racial equality but
also women's rights, education, religion, immigration, socialism, war,
Indian policy, and labor organization, among others. The speeches in this
collection are among the most powerful expressions of African American
opinions on these issues and were delivered on occasions and before audiences
where the speakers believed their words might be transformative.
Lift Every Voice is a completely revised, updated, and expanded
version of Philip Foner's 1972 classic Voice of Black America, which Library
Journal hailed as "indispensable.""This well-edited and
richly inclusive work," wrote Benjamin Quarles, "unveils the
full sweep of Black expression as found in platform addresses" by
"men and women who join eloquence with reason in articulating their
grievances and their aspirations and in arousing their listeners with their
ringing and prophetic challenges." This new collection includes over
60 additional texts and revised and expanded introductory essays that provide
historical, biographical, and critical information for each speech.
Containing more than 150 speeches, this anthology represents the most
extensive and diverse collection of African American oratory of the 18th
and 19th centuries ever published. Lift Every Voice makes readily
accessible not only the classic orations of such well-known figures
as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Booker T. Washington but also
dozens of lesser-known but important speeches deserving greater recognition
and study. Many of these speeches are previously unpublished, uncollected,
or long out of print.