Speaking My Soul is the honest story of linguist John R. Rickford's life from his early years as the youngest of ten children in Guyana to his status as Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at Stanford, of the transformation of his identity from colored or mixed race in Guyana to black in the USA, and of his work championing Black Talk and its speakers.
This is an inspiring story of the personal and professional growth of a black scholar, from his life as an immigrant to the USA to a world-renowned expert who has made a leading contribution to the study of African American life, history, language and culture. In this engaging memoir, Rickford recalls landmark events for his racial identity like being elected president of the Black Student Association at the University of California, Santa Cruz; learning from black expeditions to the South Carolina Sea Islands, Jamaica, Belize and Ghana; and meeting or interviewing civil rights icons like Huey P. Newton, Rosa Parks and South African Dennis Brutus. He worked with Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin's good friend, and key witness in the trial of George Zimmerman for his murder--Zimmerman's exoneration sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.
With a foreword by poet John Agard, this is the account of a former Director of African and African American Studies whose work has increased our understanding of the richness of African American language and our awareness of the education and criminal justice challenges facing African Americans. It is key reading for students and faculty in linguistics, mixed race studies, African American studies and social justice.