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Publishers Weekly, 2003-03-15 Despite its uplifting title, this wide-ranging anthology admirably includes both the most famous civil rights speeches of American history and lesser known, often angrier voices. Organizing the speeches chronologically, editor Gottheimer, who was one of President Clinton's speechwriters, delves as far back as 1789, when "a free Negro," name unknown, eloquently lamented the fact that "there are men who will not be persuaded that it is possible for a human soul to be lodged within a sable body." The second chapter, "Measured Gains: Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward," covers the period from 1866 to 1949, and encompasses voices as diverse as Marcus Garvey, Eleanor Roosevelt and Alonso Perales ("Defending Mexican Americans"). Although Gottheimer has limited the collection to speeches about African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, gays and lesbians and women, the astounding variety of rhetorical and political strategies enlisted by the speakers are not only instructive but make for engaging reading. In speeches from the civil rights era, for example, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" appears with Howard "Judge" Smith's "Sex Discrimination in the Civil Rights Act," Malcolm X's "The Ballot or the Bullet," and Stokely Carmichael's "Black Power." As Gottheimer acknowledges, the pickings among present-day civil rights speeches are slim and acidic (ACT UP pioneer Larry Kramer rails against his own audience in 1987, for example), but the selection is never less than judicious, revealing and notably authoritative. 8 pages of photos. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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