The Black Power movement is often associated with iconic spokespeople, but its momentum was due, in part, to the work of those with untold stories. University of Washington-Bothell Professor and historian Dan Berger’s new book Stayed On Freedom: The Long History of Black Power through One Family’s Journey focuses on the story of Zoharah Simmons and Michael Simmons: two unheralded, grassroots Black Power activists who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom.
A love story as well as a movement story, Zoharah and Michael fell in love while organizing tenants and workers in the South. Their commitment to each other and to social change took them on a decades-long journey that first traversed the United States and then the world. In centering their lives through intertwined stories, Berger shows how Black Power brought unity on both a local and global scale, which had an impact across organizations as well as generations. Attendees will likely learn something new about these unsung members of the movement toward civil rights, introducing people besides those typically highlighted during Black History Month.
Based on hundreds of hours of interviews, Stayed On Freedom seeks to reveal a moving and intimate portrait of two people trying to forge a life for themselves while working to make a better world for others.
Dan Berger is professor of comparative ethnic studies and associate dean for faculty development and scholarship in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell. His book Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era won the 2015 James A. Rawley Prize. He lives in Seattle, WA.
Dr. Carmen Rojas is the president & CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation. For more than 20 years, she has worked with foundations, financial institutions, and nonprofits to improve the lives of working people across the country. Dr. Rojas holds a Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning from UC Berkeley, and was a Fulbright Scholar in 2007.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.