Blackbirds Singing

Inspiring Black Women’s Speeches from the Civil War to the Twenty-first Century

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 of Lighting the Fires of Freedom, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, explores this tradition in Blackbirds Singing, a soaring new collection of African American women’s speeches, gorgeously packaged to make it the perfect gift.

Gathering an array of recognized names as well as some new discoveries, in this stunning compilation Bell curates two centuries of stirring public addresses by Black women, from Harriet Tubman and Josephine Baker to Barbara Lee and Barbara Jordan. These magnificent speakers explore ethics, morality, courage, authenticity, and leadership, and Bell’s substantive introductions provide rich new context for each woman’s speech, highlighting Black women speaking truth to power in service of freedom and justice.

With an expansive historical lens, Blackbirds Singing celebrates 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.

Books by Janet Dewart Bell

Race, Rights, and Redemption
The Derrick Bell Lectures on the Law and Critical Race Theory

Janet Dewart Bell, Vincent M. Southerland

Lighting the Fires of Freedom
African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement

Janet Dewart Bell

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