Review by Choice Review
Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma, Alabama, were three of the most hotly contested cities during the struggle for Civil Rights in the 1960s. Much is known about the bus boycott, the confrontation in Birmingham, and the voting rights protest from the point of view of national concerns. What is less known is the situation in those cities prior to the larger confrontations. Thornton (Univ. of Michigan) has gone a long way to correcting this omission by producing a first-rate study of the political structure in those cities in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Central to his thesis is that political changes within those cities, mostly among whites, inspired black activists to question Jim Crow. Thornton also convincingly demonstrates that through inaction and expediency, so-called "moderate" southern white politicians in those cities often made matters worse. He certainly challenges recent scholarship, which has tended to defend these moderates as simply confused. The chapter on Birmingham is particularly good. A superb work. Summing Up: Essential. All levels. D. R. Turner Davis and Elkins College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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