Critical Insights: Civil Rights Literature Review

“For those libraries looking for a book that contains information and essays related to issues on civil rights, this book covers quite a bit of ground. After an introduction which encompasses a succinct overview of the content, there are four essays under the Critical Contexts section that examine free speech and racial rhetoric in relation to African American writers, a look at the inadequate conception of human complexity, a discussion of the 1961 play Purlie Victorious by Ossie Davis, and racial identity and otherness in civic society. Fifteen essays follow in the Critical Readings section, which are subdivided by the topics of literature of the civil rights era and beyond; womenhood, civil rights, and the politics of identity; representations of the LGBTQ rights movement; economic mobility and class stratification in the civil rights debate; and contemporary civil rights literature. Three separate chronologies are provided under the Resources section, with emphases on race, gender, and sexual orientation. A substantial bibliography is included. I highly recommend this volume for all libraries.”

"Even readers without previous knowledge of some of the writers treated in this volume will appreciate the discussions and the book's overarching message. The essays Varlack (Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County) has collected offer excellent insights into some of the most notable writings of civil rights activists—e.g., Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, Alice Walker—works that take on race, equality, and social identity. But the collection goes beyond the civil rights era, tapping into earlier writings and connecting their meanings to contemporary social justice, including, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement. And the volume goes beyond race to consider, and provide perspective on, LGBTQ rights and gender equality. It concludes with valuable historical time lines on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Released in the "Critical Insights" series, this exceptional introductory work puts civil rights literature in historical context. Though pricey, it will be useful to a wide audience, in particular nonspecialists. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; faculty; general readers."