Eskew describes the changing face of Birmingham's civil rights campaign, from the politics of accommodation practiced by the city's black bourgeoisie in the 1950s to local pastor Fred L. Shuttlesworth's groundbreaking use of nonviolent direct action to challenge segregation during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1963, the national movement, in the person of Martin Luther King Jr., turned to Birmingham. The national uproar that followed on Police Commissioner Bull Connor's use of dogs and fire hoses against the demonstrators provided the impetus behind passage of the watershed Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Paradoxically, though, the larger victory won in the streets of Birmingham did little for many of the city's black citizens, argues Eskew. The cancellation of protest marches before any clear-cut gains had been made left Shuttlesworth feeling betrayed even as King claimed a personal victory. While African Americans were admitted to the leadership of the city, the way power was exercised--and for whom--remained fundamentally unchanged.
About the Author
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Introduction: Stalemate Chapter 1 The National Movement Chapter 2 Bombingham Chapter 3 Bull's Birmingham Chapter 4 The Local Movement Chapter 5 Businessman's Reform Chapter 6 Momentum Chapter 7 Another Albany?
Chapter 8 The Children's Crusade Chapter 9 But for Birmingham Epilogue: Ambiguous Resolution Notes Bibliography Index
Illustrations Birmingham skyline, ca. 1952
Map of North Smithfield Bomb-blasted house of Bishop S. L. Green Map of predominantly black neighborhoods Detective Henry Darnell confronts Bull Connor Sidney W. Smyer Sr., a "Big Mule"
Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth at the funeral of the four girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Dynamite-damaged Bethel Baptist Church Freedom Ride riot at Birmingham Trailways station Freedom Riders' bus burns outside Anniston, Alabama Map of downtown Birmingham Members of the white elite present a petition to Mayor Art Hanes Map of metropolitan Birmingham Bull Connor addresses an audience in an effort to convince voters to retain the city commission form of government Rev. Calvin Woods leads sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter on the opening day of the Birmingham campaign Crowds gather outside St. James Baptist Church before the arrival of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
A police dog lunges at a black man as police break up bystanders following a protest march Al Hibbler after participating in a sit-in at Loveman's Revs. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Ralph David Abernathy, and Martin Luther King Jr. march in violation of a state court order Birmingham Fire Department turns its hoses on nonviolent protesters of the children's crusade Black bystanders taunt Birmingham policemen in Kelly Ingram Park King, Shuttlesworth, and Abernathy announce the negotiated truce that ended the Birmingham campaign Bull Connor's white tank patrols Seventeenth Street during the first urban riot of the 1960s White students protest the court-ordered integration of Phillips High School State troopers surround the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church after a bomb damaged the structure and killed four girls inside African Americans line up in the Jefferson County Courthouse to register to vote in 1966
What People are Saying About This
A sophisticated and engaging piece of scholarship, But for Birmingham ranks alongside the best of a new wave of histories which skillfully investigate the relationship between the national, regional and local forces which fashioned the Southern freedom struggle.American Studies
An excellent (and prize-winning) book analyzing the civil rights struggle in Birmingham during the 1950s and 1960s. . . . Future analyses of the civil rights struggle in Birmingham will begin with [Eskew's] detailed and insightful study of this pivotal city.American Historical Review
[A] trenchant account of the Birmingham civil rights movement. . . . Eskew insightfully explores the broader historical context of the confrontations between nonviolent demonstrators mobilized by King's associates in the SCLC and Birmingham police under the commissioner of public safety T. Eugene 'Bull' Connor.Journal of American History
A balanced and compelling study. . . . By examining the relationship between the local struggles and the national civil rights movement in Birmingham, Glenn Eskew sheds new light on the meaning and impact of both.Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
A much-needed analysis of the Civil Rights movement in the pivotal city of Birmingham . . . a valuable contribution to the growing body of scholarship on grass-roots civil rights protest . . . [and] a valuable addition to the growing scholarship on the evolution of African American social protest in modern America.North Carolina Historical Review
History at its best. . . . A work of scholarship that provokes one to rethink what one knows, to reconsider what one believes.Georgia Historical Quarterly
A well-documented, objective analysis, this volume deserves a prominent place in any library of the civil rights movement.Publishers Weekly
Eskew's thorough research and judicious interpretation place But for Birmingham in the first rank of the many Civil Rights monographs now appearing. It is one book for which the evaluation 'essential reading' is appropriate.August Meier, general editor, Blacks in the New World
Eskew's study provides a detailed and comprehensive exploration of the Civil Rights protest era in Birmingham. In my opinion, it is by far the best such analysis of Birmingham available anywhere.James C. Cobb, University of Georgia