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Interweaving life stories with spirituals, work songs, blues lyrics, and poems, this compelling narrative recounts the experience of black Americans in the South from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 through the dawn of the Civil Rights era in 1954. Drawing from true accounts, the author writes of hopes for equality dashed by new "legal" injustices, and of a climate of fear and uncertainty fueled by intimidation, lynchings, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. but the author tells also of the courageous struggle to recreate family and community life, achieve economic independence, explore creative expression, and mount a successful legal challenge against segregation.

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