Freedom’s Daughters

The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970

In this groundbreaking and absorbing book, credit finally goes where credit is due—to the bold women who were crucial to the success of the civil rights movement. From the Montgomery bus boycott to the lunch counter sit-ins to the Freedom Rides, Lynne Olson tells the long-overlooked story of the extraordinary women who were among the most fearless, resourceful, and tenacious leaders of the civil rights movement.

Freedom’s Daughters includes portraits of more than sixty women—many until now forgotten and some never before written about—from the key figures (Ida B. Wells, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ella Baker, and Septima Clark, among others) to some of the smaller players who represent the hundreds of women who each came forth to do her own small part and who together ultimately formed the mass movements that made the difference. Freedom’s Daughters puts a human face on the civil rights struggle—and shows that that face was often female.


“In simple but engaging prose, Olson offers a stunning portrait gallery of little-known heroines that will appeal to any reader interested in civil rights and women’s history, and she explores the psychology behind the relationships between men and women, black and white, throughout a watershed period in American history.”
Publishers Weekly

“Several books have highlighted women’s contributions to the Civil Rights movement, but none is as well written and extensive as this work by journalist and author Olson (The Murrow Boys).”
Library Journal

“… presents the stories of valorous women whose deeds helped change the face of the U.S. forever.”
—Susan Brownmiller, New York Times Book Review

“With rigor and grace, she brings these female freedom fighters to the forefront of America’s most powerful social movement.”
Washington Post

“The most stunning synthesis of women’s role in America’s endless and episodic struggle for racial equality to date.”
—Ruth Rosen, Los Angeles Times Book Review