Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

You Must Be from the North: Southern White Women in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

You Must Be from the North: Southern White Women in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement

Article excerpt

You Must Be from the North: Southern White Women in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement. By Kimberly K. Little. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2009. Pp. [x], 219. $40.00, ISBN 978-1-60473-228-3.)

Kimberly K. Little's important work illuminates the history of the black freedom movement through an intensive study of the white Memphis women who participated in it. It reveals individuals and forms of organization hitherto obscured in the towering history of the 1968 sanitation workers' strike. Little explicitly challenges certain aspects of civil rights and women's history. Yet she also contributes to the burgeoning scholarship on the coalescence of antipoverty efforts and civil rights, including white women's activism, seen in studies such as those on Durham and Louisville by Christina Greene and Tracy Elaine K'Meyer, respectively.

Although white female college students in Memphis launched civil rights protests akin to those on other campuses, Little is concerned with a different group of women. Several chapters begin with snapshot biographies of prominent activists such as Virginia Foster Durr and Anne Braden to remind readers that the Memphis women were not simply exceptions to the rule. Drawing on oral histories and personal papers, she pieces together a collective biography of roughly two dozen activists, most middle-class or affluent wives and mothers. Varying in generation and place of origin--including native Memphians, other southerners, and northern transplants--these women came to social activism through social service, religious work, and groups like the Junior League. …

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