But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle

By Glenn T. Eskew | Go to book overview

ACKN0WLEDGMENTS

While attending the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute on Teaching the History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, I presented some of the ideas in this manuscript to my associates and received a warning from Vincent Harding about engaging in revisionist history. The professor knows well, for he speaks from experience: his own magisterial There Is a River once revised how scholars saw "The Black Struggle for Freedom in America." His new book, Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement, continues that earlier analysis. By nature, Harding's history is one of continuous struggle that glosses over discontinuities, levels differences, and reduces abstractions to generalities like a flooding river that has escaped its banks. Harding was concerned that my "revisionist" history of the movement might sacrifice the activist history he favored for "scholarly objectivity." Harding was right. This study strips away the romanticism surrounding the movement to tell the story of actual events as they happened. It considers the role of ideology in explaining how some African Americans accommodated segregation whereas others rebelled against the social structure. Instead of finding one long continuous struggle, this study notes discontinuity in black protest. Neither does it allow sympathy for the struggle to cloud critical analysis of the period. The effort here is to address the history of the movement in all its complexity.

Harding's work set the tone of the NEH Summer Institute, and although this study differs in its approach, it greatly benefited from the experience. The excellent faculty headed by Patricia Sullivan, Julian Bond, John Dittmer, Kathleen Cleaver, Waldo Martin, and Vincent Harding presented

-xi-

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But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgement xi
  • Introduction Stalemate 3
  • Chapter One - The National Movement 19
  • Chapter Two - Bombingham 53
  • Chapter Three - Bull's Birmingham 85
  • Chapter Four - The Local Movement 121
  • Chapter Five - Businessmen's Reform 153
  • Chapter Six - Momentum 193
  • Chapter Seven - Another Albany? 217
  • Chapter Eight - The Children's Crusade 259
  • Chapter Nine - But for Birmingham 299
  • Epilogue - Ambiguous Resolution 333
  • Notes 341
  • Bibliography 399
  • Index 419
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