A “civil rights Hall of Fame” (Kirkus) that was published to remarkable praise in conjunction with the NAACP’s Centennial Celebration, Lift Every Voice is a momentous history of the struggle for civil rights told through the stories of men and women who fought inescapable racial barriers in the North as well as the South—keeping the promise of democracy alive from the earliest days of the twentieth century to the triumphs of the 1950s and 1960s.
Historian Patricia Sullivan unearths the little-known early decades of the NAACP’s activism, telling startling stories of personal bravery, legal brilliance, and political maneuvering by the likes of W.E.B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Walter White, Charles Houston, Ella Baker, Thurgood Marshall, and Roy Wilkins. In the critical post-war era, following a string of legal victories culminating in Brown v. Board, the NAACP knocked out the legal underpinnings of the segregation system and set the stage for the final assault on Jim Crow.
A sweeping and dramatic story woven deep into the fabric of American history—”history that helped shape America’s consciousness, if not its soul” (Booklist) — Lift Every Voice offers a timeless lesson on how people, without access to the traditional levers of power, can create change under seemingly impossible odds.
In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois prophetically labeled the central challenge of the 20th century "the problem of the color-line." Six years later, in 1909, he joined black and white civic leaders and activists to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the country's oldest civil rights organization. Rejecting Booker T. Washington's Southern-based economic uplift strategy, the NAACP celebrating its centenary this year favored Du Bois's emphasis on complete equality for African-Americans as guaranteed by the Constitution, joining the fight at a time of deepening racism throughout the U.S. Spurred on by Woodrow Wilson's segregationist policies, the young NAACP rapidly grew to a formidable nationwide, grassroots-driven endeavor, waging campaigns in public squares, law courts, legislatures and with Du Bois helming its organ, the Crisis the court of public opinion. Historian Sullivan (Days of Hope) delivers a solidly researched examination of the organization's growth and influence, leaving us with a vital account of 100 years of foundational civil rights activism.