Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round: The Pursuit of Racial Justice in the Rural South

Synopsis

Combining oral history and "political archeology," Richard A. Couto grounds the African American struggle for justice in the lives of ordinary people making extraordinary progress on issues such as land ownership, education, voting, work, and health care in the face of violent repression. Focusing especially on federally-funded community health centers, he closely examines four rural Southern communities: Haywood County, Tennessee; Lee County, Arkansas; Lowndes County, Alabama; and Sea Islands, South Carolina. Through the voices of local leaders, organizers, and activists, the author sensitively depicts efforts to reverse the economic, social, and political deprivation of African Americans in these areas. In their fight for human dignity and equality, these residents established health care centers, registered voters, and improved educational opportunities, relying not only on federal funding but often on personal sacrifice. To place these contemporary narratives in the century-long succession of efforts to redress racial prejudice, Couto selects material from the Civil War to the present for the purpose of illuminating recent events in these areas. He also examines the effects of retracted funding by the Reagan administration. Author note: Richard A. Couto is a Professor in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond.