But for Birmingham by Glenn T. Eskew
The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle

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Birmingham served as the stage for some of the most dramatic and important moments in the history of the civil rights struggle. In this vivid narrative account, Glenn Eskew traces the evolution of nonviolent protest in the city, focusing particularly on the sometimes problematic intersection of the local and national movements.

Eskew describes the changing face of Birmingham's civil rights campaign, from the politics of accommodation practiced by the city's black bourgeoisie in the 1950s to local pastor Fred L. Shuttlesworth's groundbreaking use of nonviolent direct action to challenge segregation during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1963, the national movement, in the person of Martin Luther King Jr., turned to Birmingham. The national uproar that followed on Police Commissioner Bull Connor's use of dogs and fire hoses against the demonstrators provided the impetus behind passage of the watershed Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Paradoxically, though, the larger victory won in the streets of Birmingham did little for many of the city's black citizens, argues Eskew. The cancellation of protest marches before any clear-cut gains had been made left Shuttlesworth feeling betrayed even as King claimed a personal victory. While African Americans were admitted to the leadership of the city, the way power was exercised--and for whom--remained fundamentally unchanged.

About Glenn T. Eskew

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Glenn T. Eskew is associate professor of history at Georgia State University.
Published December 15, 1997 by The University of North Carolina Press. 460 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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The mass demonstrations in Birmingham in the spring of 1963 are often cited as the turning point in that city's struggle for racial desegregation and a watershed for the national civil rights movement

Dec 01 1997 | Read Full Review of But for Birmingham: The Local...

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""As a member of the traditional Negro leadership class, King accommodated empty biracial negotiations that granted him prestige."" He also argues that King's compromise actually transferred local authority to the elite black classes who opposed the sit-ins and demonstrations from the start, and ...

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