Civil Rights Movement (2023)

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The Civil Rights Movement has played a major role in the lives of African Americans and has had an impact on all Americans. These titles put together by Reader Advisor Carol Mathews reflect the many ways the movement has changed the culture in America.

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle.
Historian Boyle uses the 1925 case of African American doctor Ossian Sweet, who shot a white man while defending his house against a racist mob, to explore race relations in jazz-era America. Portrays the sensationalized murder trial and Clarence Darrow’s legal tactics. Strong language. RC 59602.

At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 by Taylor Branch.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author continues his chronicle of the civil rights movement in America. Covers events beginning with the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, through Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. America in the King Years series, book 3. Follows Pillar of Fire (RC 45816) and Parting the Waters (RC 29759). Violence and strong language. RC 61997.

Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America by Lerone Bennett.
Fifth revised edition of a classic history of African-Americans. Bennett begins with the great empires of West Africa and traces black history through the transatlantic journey into slavery, the founding of the nation, and the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s. Includes a chronology and a section entitled "Black Firsts." RC 32994, BR 8531.

Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and its Troubled Legacy by James T. Patterson.
Examines the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned state-sponsored racial segregation in America’s public schools. Explores the decision’s context, the subsequent progress of social equality, and events that have surrounded efforts to implement the court’s guidelines. RC 53365, BR 13039.

Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by Diane McWhorter.
A journalist examines her hometown’s role in the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement. A member of a privileged Birmingham, Alabama, white family, McWhorter describes the police dog attacks, church bombings, and other horrors launched against blacks. She highlights the conspiracy among the city’s public officials, elite citizens, and Klansmen. RC 53239.

The Civil Rights Era: Origins and Development of National Policy, 1960-1972 by Hugh Davis Graham.
Rather than focusing on the civil rights demonstrations that ranged across America, Graham concentrates on the administrative branch and the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He shows how three administrations took the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, conceived to benefit African-Americans, and applied them to all minorities and women. RC 35622.

A Dream of Freedom: The Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1968 by Diane McWhorter.
Concise history of the civil rights struggle by a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who in 1963 was a sixth-grader living in Birmingham, Alabama. The author recalls events from the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. Some strong language. For grades 6-9.RC 60128, BR 15855.

Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 by Juan Williams.
Covers the turbulent eleven-year period that saw an unprecedented amount of civil-rights legislation, several landmark court orders, and the seeds of a mass protest movement for social and political equality. A vivid portrayal of the courage of individual black Americans and of the prejudice and violence they endured in the South in their struggle for desegregation and the right to vote. RC 25648.

Fire in the Streets: America in the 1960s by Milton Viorst.
A chronological account of the discontent and disruptions of the 1960s. After tracing the roots of dissatisfaction in the 1950s, Viorst examines the crucial events from the black student sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, to the Kent State riot. RC 16639.

Free at Last: The Civil Rights Movement and the People Who Made It by Fred Powledge.
Powledge, a Southern white journalist who reported on the civil rights movement, presents a brisk history of that movement from the 1954 "Brown v. Board of Education" Supreme Court decision, to the 1968 murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Interviews with more than fifty persons, from civil rights workers to avid segregationists, are interwoven with the author’s commentary. RC 34369.

Freedom Bound: A History of America’s Civil Rights Movement by Robert Weisbrot.
A detailed, yet concise account of the civil rights movement from the student sit-ins in the 1960s to the Reagan administration changes in civil rights legislation and enforcement in the 1980s. Rich with minibiographies of ordinary people--black and white, young and old--who led and participated in the struggle, and with dramatic portrayals of key events. RC 33539.

Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum.
Recounts how Jim Lewis, a black seminarian who became a Congressman, and Jim Zwerg, a white college student, rode buses with white and black passengers through the segregated South in 1961. Describes the violence and hatred they faced to promote racial equality. Some strong language. For grades 6-9. RC 62902.

Freedom Song: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement by Mary King.
As a young white woman just out of college in 1962, the author joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and went to work in its Communications section. She describes her experiences working for integration in Mississippi, as she presents the history of her efforts and those of others over the next five years. RC 28460.

Freedom’s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement From 1830 to 1970 by Lynne Olson.
A journalist highlights women’s contributions to the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Beginning with the antislavery movements of the South, through the Civil Rights era, to contemporary feminist issues, Olson describes the works of both black and white women who fought for freedom and equality RC 52736.

Getting Away With Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crowe.
Account of a fourteen-year-old African American boy from Chicago who was murdered in 1955 while visiting relatives in Mississippi. Emmett Till, accused of flirting with a white woman, was subsequently killed by her husband and brother-in-law, who escaped punishment. Some violence and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. RC 57157.

A Life is More Than a Moment: The Desegration of Little Rock’s Central High by Will Counts.
Essays and interviews recount the 1957 Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis when nine enrolling black students faced resistance from white citizens, encouraged by then Arkansas governor, Orval Faubus. Counts reveals the changes that have occurred during the forty-year period following the event. RC 51973.

Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi by John Dittmer.
The DePauw University professor who taught history at Tougaloo College, Mississippi, from 1967-1979 documents the work of grass-roots blacks for suffrage and integration. He details actions arranged through the Council of Federated Organizations, and the work of Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, and many others. RC 42535.

My Soul Looks Back in Wonder: Voices of the Civil Rights Experience by Juan Williams.
Thirty-three oral histories of individuals transformed by the civil rights movement. Includes memoirs of African Americans struggling for integration and activists fighting for the rights of Latinos, Asians, gays, and people with disabilities. Foreword by David Halberstam. Afterward by Marian Wright Edelman. Strong language. RC 60316, BR 16117.

Parting the Waters: America in the King years, 1954-63 by Taylor Branch.
Wide-ranging chronicle of a turbulent decade when the civil-rights movement launched its determined, nonviolent battle for America’s social conscience and soul. Branch focuses on the period that begins with Martin Luther King’s 1954 arrival as pastor of Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and ends with the assassination of President Kennedy. RC 29759.

Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65 by Taylor Branch.
This second volume continues the narrative history of the civil rights movement in the United States begun in Parting the Waters (RC 29759). Covers the pivotal years of 1963-1965, including the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Portrays Martin Luther King Jr. upholding the nonviolent movement. America in the King Years series, book 2. RC 45816.

Speak Now against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South by John Egerton.
Discusses the South, race relations, and the people who spoke out for progress and equality during the mid-century years before the Supreme Court legally ended segregation in 1954. The book covers a period beginning in 1932 and continues with the resistance of politicians, social activists, writers, teachers, and others who promoted racial harmony and started the "Movement." RC 40546.

The Struggle for Black Equality, 1954-1980 by Harvard Sitkoff.
An interpretive history of the civil rights movement, describing the crusading spirit, historic moments, and individuals and groups involved. Covers the course of events from the Supreme Court "Brown" decision of 1954 to the assassination of Martin Luther King and summarizes subsequent events up to the Bakke ruling of 1980. RC 18092.

Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s by Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer with Sarah Flynn.
The producer and the writer of the TV series "Eyes on the Prize" have compiled this oral history from the project’s interview bank. Thirty-two episodes from the 1955 murder of Emmett Till to the 1980 Miami riot are presented through the reminiscences of the famous and unknown, black and white, who participated in the movement. RC 31453.

Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis.
African American congressman discusses the civil rights movement of the 1960s, its struggles, triumphs, leadership, and champions. Lewis, an advocate of nonviolence, acknowledges his devotion to Martin Luther King Jr., and credits the success of the movement to the thousands of working-class blacks who risked their lives confronting southern tyranny. RC 47543.

We Are Not Afraid: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi by Seth Cagin and Philip Dray.
An in-depth account of the 1964 murders of three civil rights activists. Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney were shot the night before the official start of the Mississippi Project, a summer civil rights program undertaken by black and white college students. RC 29804.

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