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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.

The paperback 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.

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