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More than a decade in the making, Call and Response is a ground-breaking anthology of African American literature, unique in its placing equal emphasis on the written and the oral dimensions of the black aesthetic. It traces the centuries-long emergence of this distinct literary tradition from its earliest roots in African proverbs, folktales, and chants to its latest flowering in the works of such writers as Rita Dove, August Wilson, and Terry McMillan. Here, in 2,000 pages and 550 selections, is (in the words of Richard Wright) the "long black song" of African American life, sung in a great choir of voices, from the slaves of the 1600s to the rap artists, orators, novelists, and poets of today.
Among the works included are Frederick Douglass's Life ... and Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eyes--both presented complete and unabridged. Here too are hundreds of spirituals and work songs, jazz and blues lyrics, poems, plays, stories, and speeches. An audio CD, produced in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, features many of the texts as spoken or sung by their creators.