Foot Soldiers for Democracy: The Men, Women, and Children of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement

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Drawn from the rich archives of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, this collection brings together twenty-nine oral histories from people of varying ages and occupations who participated in civil rights activism at the grassroots level. These highly personal narratives convey the real sense of fear and the risk of bodily danger people had to overcome in order to become the movement's foot soldiers. The stories offer testimony as to how policing was carried out when there were no cameras, how economic terrorism was used against activists, how experiences of the movement differed depending on gender, and how youth participation was fundamental to the cause. Participants in the struggle ranged from teachers, students of all ages, and domestic workers to elderly women and men, war veterans, and a Black Panther leader. This volume demonstrates the complexity and diversity of the spirit of resistance at a formative moment in American history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The oral histories excerpted here document the rich organizational networks that suffused the community, and the 'sphere of self-organized workers' activity' largely ignored by historians that was key to the movement's tenacity and ultimate successes."—Anarcho-Syndicalist Review

"This volume contains a remarkable cross section of firsthand accounts that will interest scholars of the black freedom struggle, especially those attuned to bottom-up views of black history and generational change."—The Journal of Southern History

"This book is a must-read for anyone searching for firsthand knowledge of how hard minorities had to fight for equality in a land of opportunity. It is also a must-read for those seeking to understand minorities' shared experience of never giving up."—U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review

"This volume contains a remarkable cross section of firsthand accounts that will interest scholars of the black freedom struggle, especially those attuned to bottom-up views of black history and generational change."—The Journal of Southern History

"An excellent text for those seeking a work that offers something besides the standard narrative."—Southern Historian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252076688
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2009
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 1,018,266
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Horace Huntley is a professor of history at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, the director of the Oral History Project at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the coeditor of Black Workers' Struggle for Equality in Birmingham. John W. McKerley is a faculty research associate and assistant editor with the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland in College Park.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Acknowledgments xii


Foot Soldiers for Democracy Robin D. G. Kelley xiii

Look for Them in the Whirlwind Rose Freeman Massey xviii

List of Abbreviations xxv

Chronology of Events from April and May 1963 xxvi

Illustrations xxxiii

Emma Smith Young 1

Eva Lou Billingsley Russell 10

Jimmie Lucille Spencer Hooks 17

Nims E. Gay 26

James Armstrong 35

Joe Hendricks 46

James Summerville 53

Henry M. Goodgame Sr. 57

Joe N. Dickson 63

Johnnie McKinstry Summerville 78

Jonathan McPherson 82

LaVerne Revis Martin 88

Paul Littlejohn 93

Carlton Reese 97

Elizabeth Fitts 106

James Roberson 111

Annetta Streeter Gary 115

James Ware Melvin Ware 122

Willie A. Casey 126

James W. Stewart 132

Gwendolyn Sanders Gamble 142

Carolyn Maull McKinstry 150

Carl Grace 161

Malcolm Hooks 169

Miriam Taylor McClendon 174

Shirley Smith Miller 182

Washington Booker III 187

Carrie Delores Hamilton Lock 200

Audrey Faye Hendricks 208

Epilogue 213

Index 217

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