Eyewitness: A Living Document to the African American Contribution to American History (Revised and Updated)

Eyewitness book cover “Each chapter includes thrilling accounts by those who saw history unfold before their eyes. Harriet Tubman tells how she led a rescue effort in Auburn, New York to help a slave escape his master and federal marshals. Ex-slave Sojourner Truth publicly argues with men who deny equality to women. A Black teacher tells how she helped ex-slaves learn to read and write in liberated South Carolina. A 19th-century Black Congressman speaks of his scientific inventions. Civil rights workers of the 1960s describe sit-ins, freedom rides and fights with the Ku Klux Klan. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. describes his theory of non-violent resistance to young people. Malcolm X explains Black Nationalism and Audre Lourde describes her Black feminist philosophy.”
Black Child Magazine, February/March 1997

From their arrival in the New World to their role in American politics today, Eyewitness explores the vast contributions made to American history by men and women of African descent. Historian William Loren Katz introduces the reader to each era then lets the writings, speeches, and reminiscences of people at the scene tell the rest of the story.

Eyewitness features first-hand accounts of pivotal moments in African American history, ranging from recollections of the slave trade, accounts of the Civil War, and impassioned words about the Civil Rights Movement, to the current state of Black America. Witnesses to this turbulent story speak. There are familiar voices such as that of Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jesse Jackson. There are lesser-known but no less powerful voices that provide insight and a offer a personal view of momentous events. This fully revised and vastly expanded edition of Eyewitness includes new research, and both text and photographs that touch on today’s news.

A classic in the field of African American history…tells the important and dramatic story of Black Americans in their own words….No other book recounts this story so well or with so much flair.” —James McPherson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom; Professor of History, Princeton University.

Additional reviews

“At the public schools I went to, we were taught only a little section on black achievement—maybe a chapter on Booker T. Washington. The first time I read this book—a detailed account of the contributions black people have made to this country—I was in the 11th grade. It’s a collection of poetry, photographs, and excerpts from speeches, editorials and diaries. Back then I carried it with me everywhere, not only because I was in need of this information but because I felt it was my duty to make sure other people had it. My copy is dog-earned, but I just keep lending it out.”
—Jesse L.Martin’s Bookshelf, O Magazine, November 15, 2005


Gold Medallion Award for Non-Fiction: National Conference of Christians and Jews