How It Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement

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9780195314038: How It Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement

Winner of the Benjamin L. Hooks National Book Award
Winnter of the Michael Nelson Prize of the International Association for Media and History

In 1964, Nina Simone sat at a piano in New York's Carnegie Hall to play what she called a "show tune." Then she began to sing: "Alabama's got me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam!" Simone, and her song, became icons of the civil rights movement. But her confrontational style was not the only path taken by black women entertainers.

In How It Feels to Be Free, Ruth Feldstein examines celebrated black women performers, illuminating the risks they took, their roles at home and abroad, and the ways that they raised the issue of gender amid their demands for black liberation. Feldstein focuses on six women who made names for themselves in the music, film, and television industries: Simone, Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, and Cicely Tyson. These women did not simply mirror black activism; their performances helped constitute the era's political history. Makeba connected America's struggle for civil rights to the fight against apartheid in South Africa, while Simone sparked high-profile controversy with her incendiary lyrics. Yet Feldstein finds nuance in their careers. In 1968, Hollywood cast the outspoken Lincoln as a maid to a white family in For Love of Ivy, adding a layer of complication to the film. That same year, Diahann Carroll took on the starring role in the television series Julia. Was Julia a landmark for casting a black woman or for treating her race as unimportant? The answer is not clear-cut. Yet audiences gave broader meaning to what sometimes seemed to be apolitical performances.

How It Feels to Be Free demonstrates that entertainment was not always just entertainment and that "We Shall Overcome" was not the only soundtrack to the civil rights movement. By putting black women performances at center stage, Feldstein sheds light on the meanings of black womanhood in a revolutionary time.

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About the Author:


Ruth Feldstein is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the author of Motherhood in Black and White: Race and Sex in American Liberalism, 1930-1965.

Review:


"Ruth Feldstein's important new book...is an original exploration of the little-known but central role that black entertainers, especially black women, played in helping communicate and forward the movement's goals... Ms. Feldstein brilliantly demonstrates the ways these women, their images and performance strategies animated transformative struggles for social change." --The New York Times


"Feldstein's time-capsule views of Greenwich Village and Harlem in the late 1950s and early '60s are fascinating, as is the roster of performers she introduces from the realms of jazz, folk, theater and cinema." --Dallas Morning News


"One of the many remarkable aspects of Ruth Feldstein's How It Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement is that it manages simultaneously to trace histories of black thought, activism, and performance, while reconstructing histories of how journalists, writers, and others imagined blackness through the civil rights era." --Los Angeles Review of Books


"Feldstein shows how these women's actions promoted, interacted with, and anticipated both black power and second-wave feminism. Many of the battles discussed are still being fought by contemporary black artists, and Feldstein's investigation provides valuable context for the ongoing struggle, 'render[ing] these social movements in all of their messy complexity and richness.'" --Publishers Weekly


"Ruth Feldstein has decided to focus on black women entertainers and successfully produced a detailed, informative and easy read, which firmly places these talented ladies in the history of the civil rights and feminist movements of the '50s-70s" --New York City Jazz Record


"By placing black female musicians and actors at the center of Civil Rights history, Ruth Feldstein has written a tremendously important study that challenges readers to consider the imaginative activism of artists who performed progressive representations of black womanhood. How It Feels to Be Free takes readers on a critical journey across the mid-twentieth century freedom struggle by way of women performers who rehearsed, remixed, and renegotiated civil rights and black power politics, as well as emergent feminisms... Feldstein places their lives and careers in conversation with one another and, in doing so, recuperates the crucial role that black women of music, film and television played in transforming our contemporary world."--Daphne Brooks, Princeton University


"In this meticulously researched and brilliantly argued study, Feldstein shows how black women entertainers expanded the very meaning of politics as they performed, contested, and reshaped race and gender at the dynamic intersection of the civil rights movement, culture industries, and global mass culture. This stunning reinterpretation of women, gender, and the civil rights movement is essential reading for anyone interested in feminism, black activism, and the transnational cultural and political dimensions of 1950s and 1960s U.S history." --Penny M. Von Eschen, author of Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War


"How It Feels to Be Free stands out as an enormous act of historical recovery. Ruth Feldstein masterfully illuminates the way in which black women entertainers actively participated in the civil rights struggle and helped to transform American and international race relations. A powerful and thought provoking book that will change the way we look at gender, civil rights, and the black freedom movement." --Peniel E. Joseph, author of Stokely: A Life


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Descrizione libro Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1964, Nina Simone sat at a piano in New York s Carnegie Hall to play what she called a show tune. Then she began to sing: Alabama s got me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam! Simone, and her song, became icons of the civil rights movement. But her confrontational style was not the only path taken by black women entertainers. In How It Feels to Be Free, Ruth Feldstein examines celebrated black women performers, illuminating the risks they took, their roles at home and abroad, and the ways that they raised the issue of gender amid their demands for black liberation. Feldstein focuses on six women who made names for themselves in the music, film, and television industries: Simone, Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, and Cicely Tyson. These women did not simply mirror black activism; their performances helped constitute the era s political history. Makeba connected America s struggle for civil rights to the fight against apartheid in South Africa, while Simone sparked high-profile controversy with her incendiary lyrics. Yet Feldstein finds nuance in their careers.In 1968, Hollywood cast the outspoken Lincoln as a maid to a white family in For Love of Ivy, adding a layer of complication to the film. That same year, Diahann Carroll took on the starring role in the television series Julia. Was Julia a landmark for casting a black woman or for treating her race as unimportant? The answer is not clear-cut. Yet audiences gave broader meaning to what sometimes seemed to be apolitical performances. How It Feels to Be Free demonstrates that entertainment was not always just entertainment and that We Shall Overcome was not the only soundtrack to the civil rights movement. By putting black women performances at center stage, Feldstein sheds light on the meanings of black womanhood in a revolutionary time. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780195314038

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Descrizione libro Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1964, Nina Simone sat at a piano in New York s Carnegie Hall to play what she called a show tune. Then she began to sing: Alabama s got me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam! Simone, and her song, became icons of the civil rights movement. But her confrontational style was not the only path taken by black women entertainers. In How It Feels to Be Free, Ruth Feldstein examines celebrated black women performers, illuminating the risks they took, their roles at home and abroad, and the ways that they raised the issue of gender amid their demands for black liberation. Feldstein focuses on six women who made names for themselves in the music, film, and television industries: Simone, Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, and Cicely Tyson. These women did not simply mirror black activism; their performances helped constitute the era s political history. Makeba connected America s struggle for civil rights to the fight against apartheid in South Africa, while Simone sparked high-profile controversy with her incendiary lyrics. Yet Feldstein finds nuance in their careers.In 1968, Hollywood cast the outspoken Lincoln as a maid to a white family in For Love of Ivy, adding a layer of complication to the film. That same year, Diahann Carroll took on the starring role in the television series Julia. Was Julia a landmark for casting a black woman or for treating her race as unimportant? The answer is not clear-cut. Yet audiences gave broader meaning to what sometimes seemed to be apolitical performances. How It Feels to Be Free demonstrates that entertainment was not always just entertainment and that We Shall Overcome was not the only soundtrack to the civil rights movement. By putting black women performances at center stage, Feldstein sheds light on the meanings of black womanhood in a revolutionary time. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780195314038

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Descrizione libro Oxford University Press Inc. Hardback. Condizione libro: new. BRAND NEW, How it Feels to be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement, Ruth Feldstein, In 1964, Nina Simone sat at a piano in New York's Carnegie Hall to play what she called a show tune. Then she began to sing: "Alabama's got me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam!" Simone, and her song, became icons of the civil rights movement. But her confrontational style was not the only path taken by black women entertainers. In How It Feels to Be Free, Ruth Feldstein examines celebrated black women performers, illuminating the risks they took, their roles at home and abroad, and the ways that they raised the issue of gender amid their demands for black liberation. Feldstein focuses on six women who made names for themselves in the music, film, and television industries: Simone, Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, and Cicely Tyson. These women did not simply mirror black activism; their performances helped constitute the era's political history. Makeba connected America's struggle for civil rights to the fight against apartheid in South Africa, while Simone sparked high-profile controversy with her incendiary lyrics. Yet Feldstein finds nuance in their careers. In 1968, Hollywood cast the outspoken Lincoln as a maid to a white family in For Love of Ivy, adding a layer of complication to the film. That same year, Diahann Carroll took on the starring role in the television series Julia. Was Julia a landmark for casting a black woman or for treating her race as unimportant? The answer is not clear-cut. Yet audiences gave broader meaning to what sometimes seemed to be apolitical performances. How It Feels to Be Free demonstrates that entertainment was not always just entertainment and that We Shall Overcome was not the only soundtrack to the civil rights movement. By putting black women performances at center stage, Feldstein sheds light on the meanings of black womanhood in a revolutionary time. Codice libro della libreria B9780195314038

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