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Mississippi to Madrid
Memoir of a Black American in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
by James Yates
From his birth to a share cropper family in the cotton fields of Mississippi to the unrest in Chicago and New York during the depression, James Yates' experience with white supremacist oppression, labor protest, and union organizing shaped his vision of freedom and led to his decision to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Yates was one of about 100 Blacks among the 3,200 volunteers from the US which formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the first non-Jim Crow military organization in US history. Yates describes Oliver Law, the first Black commander of a US military unit; Paul Robeson; Langston Hughes, who Yates drove to the front; and nurse Salaria Key O'Reilly. His extraordinary experiences are set down here in a memoir that brings history vividly to life, both the situations of his childhood and early life and his adventures in Spain; and those same experiences make clear the connection between racism and fascism.
James Yates returned to the US after having been wounded in the Spanish Civil War. He will be remembered for his active role in the struggle for freedom. James Yates died in January, 1994. The Jimmy Yates Award is presented annually to a short story writer by the Molasses Pond Writers Workshop in Franklin, Maine.
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[Yates] writes in an easy style--more like a raconteur than a historian--that does not dramatize his experiences, his accomplishments, or his ideals. He is a modest man. Nevertheless, the reader cannot mistake the value of his life.
The Small Press Book Review
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