Say It Plain

A Century of Great African American Speeches

An affordable text-only edition of a century of public speeches by the nation’s greatest African American orators

“I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land!” —Martin Luther King Jr.

Say It Plain is a vivid, moving portrait of how black Americans have sounded the charge against injustice, exhorting the country to live up to its democratic principles. In “full-throated public oratory, the kind that can stir the soul” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), this unique anthology collects the transcribed speeches of the twentieth century’s leading African American cultural, literary, and political figures, many of them never before available in printed form.

From an 1895 speech by Booker T. Washington to Julian Bond’s harp 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.

This edition includes the text of each speech along with an introduction placing it in its historical context. Say It Plain is a remarkable historical record—from the back-to-Africa movement to the civil rights era and the rise of black nationalism and beyond riveting in its power to convey the black freedom struggle.

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

Books by these authors

Say It Loud
Great Speeches on Civil Rights and African American Identity

Catherine Ellis, Stephen Drury Smith

After the Fall
New Yorkers Remember September 2001 and the Years That Followed

Mary Marshall Clark, Peter Bearman, Catherine Ellis, Stephen Drury Smith

The First Lady of Radio
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Historic Broadcasts

Stephen Drury Smith