Beyond the Burning Bus: The Civil Rights Revolution in a Southern Townby Phil Noble
Anniston, Alabama, is a small industrial city between Birmingham and Atlanta. In 1961, the city's potential for race-related violence was graphically revealed when the Ku Klux Klan firebombed a Freedom Riders bus. In response to that incident a few black and white leaders in Anniston took a progressive view that desegregation was inevitable and that it was better to unite the community than to divide it, and created a biracial Human Relations Council which set about to quietly dismantle Jim Crow segregation laws and customs. The Council did not prevent all disorder in Anniston, yet Anniston was spared much of the civil rights bitterness that raged in other places in the turbulent mid-sixties. Phil Noble, a Presbyterian Minister in Anniston and participant in the Council, offers his account of the events, carefully researched but told from a personal viewpoint. It shows once again that the civil rights movement was not monolithic either for those who were in it or those who were opposed to it.
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The book gives a grass roots story of the civil rights movement in a southern time during the 1960s. A reviewer from the educational radio rated it the best book on the civil rights revolution because it was relatively brief and had a positive note. It is a success story of the handling of racial issues in the South during the turbulent 1960. So novel was the cities appointment of a biracial human relations council that President Kennedy cited it as a model of all southern towns. It is unique also in that it is written by a white southerner as he experinced the dangers and threats of the Ku Klux Klan. It has the endorsement of the former Governor of Mississippi, William Winter and former Ambassotor of the United Nations, Andrew Young. Among other reviews it had been reviewed in the magazine of the Cambridge Society of Cambridge University. It was nominated for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. It is a splendid and informative book about the Civil Right struggle.