Civil Rights History from the Ground Up: Local Struggles, a National Movement

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After decades of scholarship on the civil rights movement at the local level, the insights of bottom-up movement history remain essentially invisible in the accepted narrative of the movement and peripheral to debates on how to research, document, and teach about the movement. This collection of original works refocuses attention on this bottom-up history and compels a rethinking of what and who we think is central to the movement.

The essays examine such locales as Sunflower County, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; and Wilson, North Carolina; and engage such issues as nonviolence and self-defense, the implications of focusing on women in the movement, and struggles for freedom beyond voting rights and school desegregation. Events and incidents discussed range from the movement’s heyday to the present and include the Poor People’s Campaign mule train to Washington, D.C., the popular response to the deaths of Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, and political cartoons addressing Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

The kinds of scholarship represented here—which draw on oral history and activist insights (along with traditional sources) and which bring the specificity of time and place into dialogue with broad themes and a national context—are crucial as we continue to foster scholarly debates, evaluate newer conceptual frameworks, and replace the superficial narrative that persists in the popular imagination.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820329635
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Pages: 510
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Emilye Crosby is a professor of history at the State University of New York at Geneseo. She is the author of A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi

Introduction. The Politics of Writing and Teaching Movement History
Emilye Crosby 1

Part One. Local Studies as Case Studies Local People and National Leaders:The View from Mississippi
John Dittmer 43
Challenging the Civil Rights Narrative: Women, Gender,and the “Politics of Protection”
Laurie B. Green 52
Finding Fannie Corbett: Black Women and the Transformation of Civil Rights Narratives in Wilson, North Carolina
Charles W. McKinney Jr. 81
The 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, Marks, Mississippi, and the Mule Train: Fighting Poverty Locally, Representing Poverty Nationally
Amy Nathan Wright 109

Part Two. From Local Studies to Synthesis Focusing Our Eyes on the Prize: How Community Studies Are Reframing and Rewriting the History of the Civil Rights Movement
J. Todd Moye 147
Freedom Now: Nonviolence in the Southern Freedom Movement, 1960–1964
Wesley Hogan 172
“It wasn’t the Wild West”: Keeping Local Studies in Self- Defense Historiography
Emilye Crosby 194

Part Three. Creating and Communicating Movement History: Methodology and Theory Remaking History: Barack Obama, Political Cartoons, and the Civil Rights Movement
Hasan Kwame Jeffries 259
Making Eyes on the Prize: An Interview with Filmmaker and SNCC Staffer Judy Richardson
Emilye Crosby, interviewer and editor 278
“Sexism is a helluva thing”: Rethinking Our Questions and Assumptions Charles
M. Payne 319
Telling Freedom Stories from the Inside Out: Internal Politics and Movement Cultures in SNCC and the Black Panther Party
Robyn C. Spencer and Wesley Hogan 330
That Movement Responsibility: An Interview with Judy Richardson on Movement Values and Movement History
Emilye Crosby, interviewer and editor 366
Accidental Matriarchs and Beautiful Helpmates: Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and the Memorialization of the Civil Rights Movement
Jeanne Theoharis 385
Why Study the Movement? A Conversation on Movement Values and Movement History
Charles M. Payne 419

Conclusion. “Doesn’t everybody want to grow up to be Ella Baker?”: Teaching Movement History
Emilye Crosby 448
Contributors 477
Index 481

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