Drawn from the rich archives of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, this collection brings together twenty-nine oral histories from people of varying ages and occupations who participated in civil rights activism at the grassroots level. These highly personal narratives convey the real sense of fear and the risk of bodily danger people had to overcome in order to become the movement's foot soldiers. The stories offer testimony as to how policing was carried out when there were no cameras, how economic terrorism was used against activists, how experiences of the movement differed depending on gender, and how youth participation was fundamental to the cause. Participants in the struggle ranged from teachers, students of all ages, and domestic workers to elderly women and men, war veterans, and a Black Panther leader. This volume demonstrates the complexity and diversity of the spirit of resistance at a formative moment in American history.
About the Author
Horace Huntley is an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, the director of the Oral History Project at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the coeditor of Black Workers' Struggle for Equality in Birmingham.John W. McKerley is a faculty research associate and assistant editor with the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland, College Park
"The oral histories excerpted here document the rich organizational networks that suffused the community, and the 'sphere of self-organized workers' activity' largely ignored by historians that was key to the movement's tenacity and ultimate successes."--Anarcho-Syndicalist Review
"This book is a must-read for anyone searching for firsthand knowledge of how hard minorities had to fight for equality in a land of opportunity. It is also a must-read for those seeking to understand minorities' shared experience of never giving up."--U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review
"An excellent text for those seeking a work that offers something besides the standard narrative."--Southern Historian
"This volume contains a remarkable cross section of firsthand accounts that will interest scholars of the black freedom struggle, especially those attuned to bottom-up views of black history and generational change."--The Journal of Southern History
"This outstanding work is an enormous contribution to the literature on the civil rights movement, and it will provide rich material for debate as well as inspiration for years to come."--Paul Ortiz, author of Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920