Cover image for Powerful words : excerpts from famous speeches and writings by African Americans
Powerful words : excerpts from famous speeches and writings by African Americans
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, 2004.
Physical Description:
xv, 178 p. : ill. ; 27 cm.
Reading Level:
1130 L Lexile
A collection of speeches and writings by African Americans, with commentary about the time period in which each person lived, information about the speaker/writer, and public response to the words.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book Q J 920 HUD 1 1

On Order



Words stir and motivate, whether spoken, written, or sung. Dynamic, timely, crucial, and eloquent words from more than 30 important African-American personalities are represented here.

This is a moving collection of excerpted writings (letters, speeches, poetry, novels, songs, and more) by famous African-Americans with thoughtful commentary on the authors, as well as the impact the writings have had on society.

Benjamin Banneker. Dred Scott. Ida B. Wells Barnett. Marcus Garvey. Langston Hughes. Rosa Parks. Malcolm X. Toni Morrison. Lauryn Hill. These and many more are the people who have helped shape African-American culture throughout history.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Hudson highlights the words of 36 well-known African-American men and women from colonial to contemporary times. Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Thurgood Marshall, and Toni Morrison are among the featured individuals. Marian Wright Edelman provides the foreword and is profiled later on in the book. Hudson bases his book on the writings of the subjects themselves, taken directly from speeches, books, essays, articles, letters, poems, and songs. The passages reflect the culture and conditions of the times, taking into account issues of slavery, discrimination, racism, and the growth and development of the African-American community. Most of the entries include a full-page, black-and-white drawing of the subject. For each one, Hudson gives a brief introduction to set the scene. Following each excerpt is a biographical sketch, as well as individual or public responses. The strength of this book rests on its illumination of the power of words to question, educate, inspire, and empower.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Powerful Words: More Than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans, ed. by Wade Hudson, illus. by Sean Qualls, with a foreword by Marian Wright Edelman, combines the poetic words of the likes of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston and the song lyrics of James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" along with excerpts from Thurgood Marshall's Summary of Argument for Brown v. Board of Education; Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech delivered at Lincoln University (June 6, 1961) and Malcolm X's address at the Hotel Theresa in New York City (Dec. 31, 1964). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

The compiler excerpts significant rhetorical pieces by three dozen influential African Americans ranging from Benjamin Banneker to Lauryn Hill. Brief and useful biographical essays accompany each selection, but the design and two-color illustrations are textbookish. Chronology, source notes. Ind. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Taken from a variety of sources, including speeches, letters, essays, and poetry, powerful words of eminent African-Americans tell the history of the struggles to achieve freedom and then equality. From Benjamin Banneker's letter to Thomas Jefferson to Lauryn Hill's hip-hop lyrics, the reader is presented with an astonishing array of eloquent, passionate discourse. Because many of the pieces are written in 18th- and 19th-century language and cadence, it might prove difficult for young readers. But Hudson sets the writing in context, and provides a biographical sketch, and includes information about the contemporary response in a four-page spread for each selection. An introduction, conclusion, author's note, time-line, list of sources, and index, all contribute to the wealth of information. Qualls's blue-toned portraits and eye-catching large-print quotes in gold and white on a blue manuscript are visually stimulating. Absorbing. (Nonfiction. 10+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-9. In this handsome, large-format book, black history in the U.S. unfolds through the words of those who shaped and experienced it. The well-chosen title gives Hudson wide latitude in selecting passages that will inform and inspire readers. He offers selections from 34 writings and speeches by African Americans, famous and not, stretching from the late eighteenth century to the present. Samuel B. Cornish andohn Russwurm explain why they are starting Freedom'sournal. Thurgood Marshall argues Brown v . Board of Education before the Supreme Court. Malcolm X addresses African American teenagers. Toni Morrison accepts the Nobel Prize for literature. Short enough to hold attention, the selections, accompanied by information about the context and the writer, are also long enough to show the writers' tone and style. Many sensitive full-page portraits are included; also provided are a chronology of African American history and detailed source notes for the numerous excerpts quoted in the text. Given the increased emphasis on primary source documents in history classes, this well-designed volume will be an excellent addition to many library collections. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2004 Booklist