Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Speak Truth to Power: The Story of Charles Patrick, a Civil Rights Pioneer

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Speak Truth to Power: The Story of Charles Patrick, a Civil Rights Pioneer

Article excerpt

Speak Truth to Power: The Story of Charles Patrick, a Civil Rights Pioneer. By Mignette Y. Patrick Dorsey. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, c. 2010. Pp. [xviii], 130. Paper, $16.00, ISBN 978-0-8173-5556-2.) Mignette Y. Patrick Dorsey recounts the dramatic story of her father, Charles Patrick, a working-class African American man from Birmingham, Alabama, who filed a maverick lawsuit against two white city police officers who had physically assaulted him in 1954. Patrick did not intend to become a civil rights pioneer, but a minor dispute over a parking spot led to his arrest, beating while in custody, and eventual legal tribulations. His daughter's account of his ordeal is well researched, beautifully narrated, and extremely informative.

Historians will find great value in mining the details from Dorsey's fine book. A journalist by trade, Dorsey at times overemphasizes the originality of her father's tale. Yet the book offers indisputable evidence that the beating her father endured was just one example of routine police brutality against African Americans--incidents that almost always went unpunished. Just as historian Danielle L. McGuire has shown that black women's protests and testimonies against sexualized violence proved critical to the formation of the larger freedom struggle, Dorsey demonstrates that widespread resentment surrounding police brutality against black men also provided key inspiration for civil rights agitation. …

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