On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail


Charles Cobb leads us from Washington, D.C., through eight southern states to visit the places where pioneers of the civil rights movement fought for freedom. This in-depth look at the movement—its long history, its stunning triumphs, its devastating losses, and its brave participants—goes off the beaten path to give us the real grassroots story in the words of those who lived it.
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On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail

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Charles Cobb leads us from Washington, D.C., through eight southern states to visit the places where pioneers of the civil rights movement fought for freedom. This in-depth look at the movement—its long history, its stunning triumphs, its devastating losses, and its brave participants—goes off the beaten path to give us the real grassroots story in the words of those who lived it.
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Editorial Reviews

Nashville Scene
"In On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail, Charles Cobb Jr. injects some much needed immediacy into the myth by compiling a detailed, city-by-city guide to its lesser known people, places and events. Even readers who think they've got a pretty good grasp of civil rights history are likely to find stories and personalities in the book they haven't encountered before. . . . On the Road to Freedom benefits from both [the author's] intimate knowledge of the movement and his investigative skills. . . . This book is first-rate popular history, and deserves a place in any freedom-lovers library."-- Nashville Scene
"It could easily be a textbook for Black History Month. It is so tightly written that the reader follows the trail Cobb skillfully outlines in the 388-page book."--Currents
The State
On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail is another chance for us to learn, remember and be proud of a group of people who struggled to make changes without seeing what vacation days we have. . . . Cobb's book will certainly make you think about places you are familiar with where change happened and how it affected you."-- The State
In his acknowledgements, Cobb says this is not meant to be "a history book in any academic sense but a story as I might tell it to you in face-to-face conversation . . . ."Cobb, a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, draws on many resources to tell this story of how African Americans traveled on the road to their freedom, where they stopped, and what happened in specific places. Some is background to the Civil Rights Movement: where slaves were sold ("1315 Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia is the location of a notorious slave pen and headquarters of Virginia's biggest slave-trading firm"), where and how important historical figures lived and died. On nearly every page is a b/w photograph of an event or portrait of a person. Readers will want to go to the relevant pages close to their own homes, in their own states, but the story takes us farther along in our understanding of the momentous struggle that was and is a central fact of our national history. Age Range: Ages 12 to adult. REVIEWER: Claire Rosser (Vol. 42, No. 1)
Library Journal

This is an exceptional historical-personal narrative of the civil rights trail as lived by Cobb. A member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the late 1960s, Cobb is well equipped to take us on this journey, situating for us the schools, churches, courthouses, and lunch counters that were the battlegrounds of the grass-roots Civil Rights Movement. Cobb guides us through Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama, ending in a moving report on Tennessee. His historical perspective is vast, utilizing early American slave revolts and the retrenchment of racist policies following the end of Reconstruction as departure points for the later freedom struggle and drawing on interviews and incredible pictures to show us the trail through haunting imagery. His book is a singular creation, no mere tour guide but a kind of time capsule preserving the memory of those who gave their lives to the movement. For academic or public libraries.
—Jim Hahn

Kirkus Reviews
A vade mecum for students of recent history, seeking to comprehend the last century's ongoing struggle for civil rights for all citizens. There are maps to the homes of the stars, rock-'n'-roll itineraries, compendia of haunted houses, but, until now, few historically minded guidebooks to the principal sites of the Civil Rights movement. Cobb, a veteran of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and a longtime journalist, provides a compelling atlas. He begins in Washington, D.C., noting that the sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. is "the only one of a black person in the [Capitol] rotunda," while a handful of other African-Americans are represented elsewhere in the building. Not far away, he points out, is the headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), purchased in 2002 courtesy of Oprah Winfrey, Don King and other big-ticket donors. The organization's president, Dorothy I. Height, proudly observed of the building's Pennsylvania Avenue address, "No American president will be inaugurated without getting past our house!" Outside the capital city, Cobb traces the origins of the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and the 1961 Freedom Rides. Elsewhere in southern Virginia, in Danville, the "Last Capital of the Confederacy," he documents a 1963 protest broken by anti-insurrectionist slavery-era laws. He calls on Arthur Ashe's statue in Richmond, alongside monuments to the chief rebel leaders. Traveling deeper into the South, he pays his respects to the veterans of lunch-counter sit-ins in Greensboro, Raleigh and Durham, N.C.; honors the victims of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963, four young women who would now be in their 60s; and wonders why itis that Tennessee, so central in the movement's history, "hardly comes to mind when the words civil rights struggle are uttered.""You cannot understand the United States without grappling with race and the civil rights struggle," writes Cobb. He's right, and his book makes a valuable contribution.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565124394
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 1/15/2008
  • Pages: 388
  • Sales rank: 551,686
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles E. Cobb Jr. originated the "Freedom School" proposal that became a crucial part of the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. A founding member of the Nnational Association of Black Journalists, Cobb has reported for WHUR Radio in Washington, D.C.; NPR; PBS's Frontline; and National Geographic. Cobb is a senior writer for AllAfrica.com.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2008

    A reviewer

    I became interested in this book when I heard the author, Charles Cobb Jr. interviewed on NPR¿s ¿Tell Me More¿ with Michel Martin. Cobb is a veteran of the civil rights movement and a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists. He spoke about sitting on the steps of a middle school in Medgar Evers¿ old neighborhood, across from the Fannie Lou Hamer Library, trying to engage some kids in conversation about the movement in Mississippi. When he told them he¿d known Mrs. Hamer, a little boy said in amazement ¿YOU were alive back then?!¿ That¿s when he realized the era was fading into ancient history, viewed as a mass movement led by a few charismatic and long dead leaders. This book - part memoir, part travel guide, part history book - is intended to capture the deeper meaning of the fight for civil rights, community grassroots organizing and thousands of independent acts of courage reaching further back than the 1960¿s...in fact, he said, the movement probably began as soon as the first African stepped off the ship in chains and began thinking of how to escape. With Cobb as our personal guide we travel through Washington D.C. and eight Southern states. But this is so much more than just a visitor¿s guide to historic sites, museums and plaques. Nearly every page is graced with photos, quotes from interviews, songs, letters, or key documents. We get to know the men and women not mentioned in the ¿Civil Rights Canon,¿ the everyday yet heroic people fighting for justice and equality in their own back yards. Academicians will be happy with the careful citing of sources in end notes general readers will be delighted with the compelling narrative flow. It¿s the sort of book I find myself reading twice: first skimming through to read all the fascinating sidebars, then reading through state by state. If I had a ¿favorite book of the year¿ this would be it for 2008. It belongs on the shelf of every school and community library. The only thing lacking is contact information for the many museums and cultural centers mentioned, but of course, such information quickly becomes outdated in a print format, so I¿d suggest using the book in conjunction with my frequently updated website AfroAmericanTravel dot com

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