(1963) Es’kia (Ezekiel) Mphahlele, “On Negritude in Literature”

Es’kia Mphahlele was a South African writer, professor, and political activist who was critical of the nation’s apartheid regime.  He subsequently spent twenty years in exile from South Africa between 1957 and 1977.  In the speech below, given in Johannesburg, South Africa in June, 1963, … Read More(1963) Es’kia (Ezekiel) Mphahlele, “On Negritude in Literature”

(1976) Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, “Who, Then, Will Speak for the Common Good?”

In 1972 Barbara Charline Jordan became the first black member of Congress elected from Texas. Two years later this freshman Representative became a national figure because of her prominent role as a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment hearings of President Richard … Read More(1976) Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, “Who, Then, Will Speak for the Common Good?”

(1988) Rev. Jesse Jackson, “Keep Hope Alive”

In 1988, Rev. Jesse Jackson made a second unsuccessful run for the Democratic Nomination for President, losing out to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.  Jackson, however, gave another major address at the Democratic National Convention which met in Atlanta, Georgia.  The address, delivered on July 19 … Read More(1988) Rev. Jesse Jackson, “Keep Hope Alive”

(1984) Rev. Jesse Jackson, “The Rainbow Coalition”

In 1984 Rev. Jesse Jackson campaigned for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. Although he entered the Democratic convention at San Francisco with little hope of winning, his appeals on behalf of the dispossessed of America whom he characterized as the “Rainbow Coalition,” ensured that … Read More(1984) Rev. Jesse Jackson, “The Rainbow Coalition”

(1952) Charlotta Bass, “Acceptance Speech for Vice Presidential Candidate of the Progressive Party”

Charlotta Bass, VP Candidate, Progressive Party Ticket, 1952, next to Vincent Hallinan, the Party’s Presidential Candidate Los Angeles newspaper owner and political activist Charlotta Bass began her career as a conservative Republican.  By the 1940s, however, she moved to the political left.  In 1948 she … Read More(1952) Charlotta Bass, “Acceptance Speech for Vice Presidential Candidate of the Progressive Party”

(1970) Shirley Chisholm, “I Am For the Equal Rights Amendment.”

  Image Ownership: Public Domain Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm became in 1968 the first African American woman elected to Congress.  Four years later in 1972, she launched a bid to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, another first for an … Read More(1970) Shirley Chisholm, “I Am For the Equal Rights Amendment.”

(1964) Malcolm X’s Speech at the Founding Rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity

Malcolm X’s life changed dramatically in the first six months of 1964.  On March 8, he left the Nation of Islam.  In May he toured West Africa and made a pilgrimage to Mecca, returning as El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.  While in Ghana in May, he … Read More(1964) Malcolm X’s Speech at the Founding Rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity

(1966) Stokely Carmichael, “Definitions of Black Power”

On July 31, 1966, Stokely Carmichael, the newly appointed Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), describes black power to a mostly African American audience at Cobo Auditorium in Detroit.  Part of the address appears below. Now we’ve got to talk about this thing … Read More(1966) Stokely Carmichael, “Definitions of Black Power”

(1968) Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”

The following speech, a sermon Dr. Martin Luther King gave at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, was the last public appearance before his assassination the next day.  King, in Memphis to support a strike by sanitation workers, gives a poignant vision … Read More(1968) Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”

(1965) Bayard Rustin, “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement”

Bayard Rustin, a co-founder of the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942 had become by the 1960s an experienced civil rights and peace activist.  During much of that decade he was a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King.  In this address originally printed in … Read More(1965) Bayard Rustin, “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement”