Freedom's Daughters: A Juneteenth Story

Lynne Olson, Author Scribner Book Company $30 (464p) ISBN 978-0-684-85012-2
As Olson recounts it, the day after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus, the city's black leaders held a mass meeting to promote a boycott. It was December 1955, and the meeting was packed with ministers and others who wanted to speak, among them Parks. The crowd never heard from her. ""You've said enough,"" one of the leaders told her. And with that, Olson says, Parks became a shining example of the role of women in the Civil Rights movement: they got things started and the men took the spotlight. With a large supply of such examples, Olson, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, showcases in this extensively researched history women like Ida Mae ""Cat"" Holland, a Mississippi prostitute whose failed attempt to proposition a leader in the voter registration drive of the early 1960s led her to a life of activism and, eventually, a Ph.D. and an academic career. We read about Fannie Lou Hamer, a poorly educated Mississippi native who movement leaders said could get people more worked up than Martin Luther King Jr. Ruby Doris Smith Robinson was the only woman to hold a top leadership job in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Robinson died of cancer at 25, but her female colleagues think what really killed her was her effort to keep the movement together. In simple but engaging prose, Olson offers a stunning portrait gallery of little-known heroines that will appeal to any reader interested in civil rights and women's history, and she explores the psychology behind the relationships between men and women, black and white, throughout a watershed period in American history. (Feb.) Forecast: With two distinct marketsDAf-Am and women's studiesDthis book presents a market opportunity as well as a challenge. Boosted by the inspiring cover image, vigorous targeting to both markets could result in admirable sales.
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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