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.
About 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.
“Engaging and accessible for nonspecialists and thought provoking for scholars, this well-written, feisty book offers cutting-edge historiography, tools for teachers, and insights for all of us. It is a must read for anyone interested in the freedom struggle and in a just, democratic society.”—Julian Bond, founding member of SNCC and former chair of the NAACP
“Provides the single most compelling interpretation of the African American freedom struggle in the South yet produced. National in scope, deep and concrete, empirical and analytical, clear and accessible, this collection clarifies virtually all the crucial scholarly debates while furnishing engaging examples for students and general readers. Crosby shows us a historic movement as deep as it is long, rooted in the black South, but speaking to the whole world.”—Timothy B. Tyson, author of Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power
"Civil Rights History from the Ground Up contains a remarkable bounty of insights for teachers and advanced students of civil rights. Emilye Crosby has recruited 'the best and the brightest' for this phenomenal volume, and the result of that combination of talent is simply outstanding."—Komozi Woodard, author of A Nation within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics