Through wide-ranging conversations with nine African American women, several now in their nineties with decades of untold stories, we hear what ignited and fueled their activism in the U.S. Civil Rights movement.
The reader is drawn deeply into the lives of these courageous women, some of whom are well-known ... The others, less-familiar but no less compelling activists...tell striking and fascinating stories that greatly enrich our appreciation of the crucial roles women of diverse backgrounds played in the pivotal fight for civil rights.
The book is absorbing but uneven ... This book also would have benefited from a more substantial introduction. To be sure, Bell explains her motivation for the book, writing movingly about her mom, and about issues of gender and leadership, but she does not fully develop those themes or knit the stories of the nine women into an overarching narrative about gender relations in the movement ... Bell doesn’t explain why she chose these nine women. She also doesn’t explain their order in the book ... There is a memoir or autobiography in each of these women. But they are perhaps too modest to lift themselves up, which is why Bell’s book is so valuable. In many ways, I wanted more from this book. At the same time, this is just enough to encourage each of us to celebrate the women of the civil rights movement and to learn more about them.
What these brave women all have in common is humility and a belief that through working together, African American life can be improved and changed for the better ... Through the words of these women, Bell suggests that all of us can make a difference in our communities. An important book that should be read in all schools and wherever discussion of social issues takes place.