From Brown to Meredith: The Long Struggle for School Desegregation in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954-2007

By Bagley, Joseph | The Journal of Southern History, November 2014 | Go to article overview

From Brown to Meredith: The Long Struggle for School Desegregation in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954-2007


Bagley, Joseph, The Journal of Southern History


From Brown to Meredith: The Long Struggle for School Desegregation in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954-2007. By Tracy E. K'Meyer. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013. Pp. [xiv], 221. $39.95, ISBN 978-1-4696-0708-5.)

In this valuable and accessible community study, Tracy E. K'Meyer "seeks to dislodge the story of school desegregation from the narrative of resistance and defeat," which she feels has unfairly clouded public memory and stifled contemporary public dialogue (p. 5). K'Meyer argues that an overabundance of scholarly attention to desegregation litigation, segregationist resistance, and conservative backlash against the civil rights movement has contributed to a hopeless narrative of decline, "marked by opposition, failure, and abandonment" (p. 186). She offers "an alternative narrative" built from the "stories of local people dedicated to building equal education and better human relations" in Louisville, Kentucky, and surrounding Jefferson County over the course of the half century since Brown v. Board of Education (1954) (p. 184). Her work thus explicitly reflects both the "local people" approach to civil rights history pioneered by John Dittmer and the "long civil rights movement" framework first suggested by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall.

K'Meyer is the co-director of the Oral History Center at the University of Louisville, and she features oral history in From Brown to Meredith: The Long Struggle for School Desegregation in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954-2007, utilizing over fifty interviews. These were initially recorded at different times between 1973 and 2011, through five different projects, including the Long Civil Rights Movement Initiative of the University of North Carolina's Southern Oral History Program. In using local oral history, K'Meyer hopes to remind readers of a "grassroots push back against the threat of resegregation,' which she feels might still "inspire community agency" in Louisville and beyond (p. …

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