Voices of Freedom Outside the South: An Oral History Resource

By Say Burgin, Black Perspectives

Some of my most exciting moments as an educator have been seeing how students engage with oral histories from the civil rights and Black Power movements. In my class, “The Civil Rights Movement: North and South,” the well-known Eyes on the Prize companion Voices of Freedom often fosters the richest questions and deepest connections from students. Its strong southern focus, however, leaves movements in the West, Midwest, Rustbelt, and Northeast relatively voiceless.

Meanwhile, students, scholars, and archivists have carried out innumerable oral history interviews with Black folks in the North who found themselves displaced by “urban renewal” and fought against (see Voices of Rondo: Oral Histories of Saint Paul’s Black Community), who unionized in the midst of deindustrialization (see Detroit Lives), and who developed pathbreaking feminist projects (see How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective).

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