Barefootin': Life Lessons from the Road to Freedom

Unita Blackwell, Author, Joanne Prichard Morris, Author with JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown $23 (258p) ISBN 978-0-609-61060-2

Blackwell's engrossing autobiography makes for both a frontline account of the Civil Rights Movement by "a homegrown agitator" and a manual for political action. Born in the Mississippi Delta in 1933, Blackwell became a founding mother of the movement; her affiliations include the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the National Council of Negro Women, with whom she organized voter registration drives, school desegregation efforts, housing programs and economic boycotts. Blackwell was also elected the first black female mayor in Mississippi. Neither softening nor overdramatizing her story, she writes of the daily familial and communal African-American experiences that made her "just the kind of person" the civil rights workers"were looking for" when they arrived in Mayersville, Miss., in 1964. Overnight, Blackwell "went from cotton picker to full-time freedom fighter." Her experiences may seem familiar, but the intimacy and immediacy of her telling brings freshness to this slice of history. Blackwell's autobiography reaches back before that pivotal Freedom Summer and beyond—her role in a 1973 women's delegation to China and her MacArthur genius grant, for example. Distinguished by her vision and courage, Blackwell's autobiography is a moving spiritual guide as well as a valuable historical document. (June 13)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
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