Stayed on Freedom
The Long History of Black Power Through One Family’s Journey
The Black Power movement, often associated with its iconic spokesmen, derived much of its energy from the work of people whose stories have never been told. Stayed On Freedom: The Long History of Black Power Through One Family’s Journey brings into focus two unheralded Black Power activists who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom.
Zoharah Simmons and Michael Simmons 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 traversed first the country and then the world. In centering their lives, historian Dan Berger shows how Black Power united the local and the global across organizations and generations.
Based on hundreds of hours of interviews, Stayed On Freedom is a moving and intimate portrait of two people trying to make a life while working to make a better world.
Praise for Stayed on Freedom
Stayed On Freedom is a movement story and a love story all wrapped together. It does not avoid or elide the problems and contradictions of a movement life—the traumas and costs, disappointments, and betrayals. Dan Berger assembles a sensitive, honest, and beautiful intergenerational account of the extraordinary lives of Michael and Zoharah Simmons, their kin and comrades, and the worlds they dreamed and, still, try to create. Stayed On Freedom not only compels us to rethink the Black Freedom Movement but radically alters our understanding of love and struggle.— Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk
Berger yet again brings together superb research, a deep commitment to justice, and beautiful writing in Stayed On Freedom. This is a rare intimate portrait of the stakes, evolution, and expansiveness of the Black Freedom Movement that will join classic texts on this period.— Imani Perry, New York Times–bestselling author of South to America
Stayed On Freedom is a triumph of storytelling. Berger generously offers an everblooming portrait of two people’s struggle without reducing their story to struggle alone. This is a deeply loving, deeply caring text that is both tender and ferocious in approach.— Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America
Berger is one of our most gifted historians of Black radical thought and activism of the 1960s and 1970s. Told through the experiences of rank-and-file movement participants, Stayed On Freedom powerfully refutes the conventional wisdom of Black Power as the destructive undoing of good will created by the Civil Rights Movement, instead showing it to be propelled by love and an abiding desire for freedom. An original and necessary book.— Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLives Matter to Black Liberation