Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lillian Smith Book Awards: Featured 2014 Nominee

We Shall Not Be Moved

The Jackson Woolworth Sit-In and the Movement it Inspired

By M.J. O'Brien

Once in a great while, an image captures the essence of an era. Three people--one black, two white--sit at a lunch counter while a horde of cigarette smoking hot shots pour catsup, sugar, and other counter condiments on the sitters’ heads and down their backs. The image strikes a chord for all who lived through those turbulent times of a changing America. And for those too young to have endured that period, it evokes an era, not that long ago, when the ordinary act of getting a cup of coffee with a friend of another race could spark a riot.

We Shall Not Be Moved is a triple threat: part biography, part history, and largely just good old fashioned storytelling. The book enables the reader to get behind the iconic image of the Jackson Woolworth’s sit-in and into the hearts and minds of those participating in this harrowing event. It’s history from the bottom up. We Shall Not Be Moved tells the entire story of the Jackson Movement, which the sit-in sparked to life, and the three weeks of demonstrations that put Jackson on the front page of every major newspaper in America.
Sadly, this uprising led to severe retaliation. Two weeks after the Jackson Woolworth’s sit-in, Medgar Evers, the local leader of the movement, was assassinated. We Shall Not Be Moved chronicles this horrific event through first-person accounts of those who endured it, and then reveals how these movement figures carried on after their leader was taken down.

"We Shall Not Be Moved is a story of pathos and drama—the story of “the beginning of change in Mississippi.” It sets the stage for much that would follow in the state’s shifting racial politics, particularly in its capital city."
M.J. O'Brien
"Michael O’Brien has written a detailed history and fascinating study of one of the iconic moments of the modern civil rights movement and the powerful effect it had. . . . Readers will enjoy this behind the scenes look at an important event in movement history."
Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus NAACP 


Monday, May 26, 2014

Lillian Smith Book Awards: Featured 2014 Nominee

W. E. B. Du Bois and The Souls of Black Folk
W. E. B. Du Bois and The Souls of Black Folk
By Stephanie J. Shaw
In this book, Stephanie J. Shaw brings a new understanding to one of the great documents of American and black history. While most scholarly discussions of The Souls of Black Folk focus on the veils, the color line, double consciousness, or Booker T. Washington, Shaw reads Du Bois' book as a profoundly nuanced interpretation of the souls of black Americans at the turn of the twentieth century.

Demonstrating the importance of the work as a sociohistorical study of black life in America through the turn of the twentieth century and offering new ways of thinking about many of the topics introduced in Souls, Shaw charts Du Bois' successful appropriation of Hegelian idealism in order to add America, the nineteenth century, and black people to the historical narrative in Hegel’s philosophy of history. Shaw adopts Du Bois' point of view to delve into the social, cultural, political, and intellectual milieus that helped to create The Souls of Black Folk.

Stephanie J. Shaw is professor of history at the Ohio State University and author of What a Woman Ought to Be and to Do: Black Professional Women Workers during the Jim Crow Era.


"A must-read for Hegel fans who also love Du Bois. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."

"This book establishes Stephanie Shaw as one of the leading Du Bois scholars of her generation. She deftly combines several disciplines to produce an elegant, erudite, sophisticated, beautifully-crafted meditation on Du Bois' view of the dawn of the 20th century from the vantage point of the 21st century."
--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times

"Shaw’s ambitious and provocative book uncovers Du Bois' deliberate use of Hegel's phenomenology and philosophy of history. As Du Bois saw it, slavery and the failure of Reconstruction prevented whites as well as blacks from coming to self-consciousness and kept all Americans from the realization of freedom."
--James Kloppenberg, Harvard University

"While G. W .F. Hegel has been subjected to passionate critique for characterizing Sub-Saharan African peoples as nonhistorical, Stephanie J. Shaw argues, strenuously and insightfully, that W. E. B. Du Bois provides a philosophically informed account of the development of the consciousness and being of black folk as a world historical people. In so doing, Shaw has raised the bar considerably for critical engagement with The Souls of Black Folk."
--Lucius T. Outlaw (Jr.), Vanderbilt University

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

John Lewis Speaks Against Boggs' Nomination

R. Robin McDonald

Daily Report, May 19, 2014

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the dean of Georgia's congressional Democrats, announced in strong language today that he would not support the confirmation of Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs to the federal bench in Atlanta.

Lewis urged his colleagues in the U.S. Senate—some of whom had said they would seek Lewis' counsel on the matter—to vote against Boggs' confirmation.

"His record is in direct opposition to everything I have stood for during my career, and his misrepresentation of that record to the committee is even more troubling," Lewis said in a statement, headlined "Rep. John Lewis Does Not Support the Confirmation of Judge Michael Boggs."

"The testimony suggests Boggs may allow his personal political leanings to influence his impartiality on the bench," Lewis said.

Lewis issued the statement less than 24 hours after Rep. David Scott, a Democrat who represents Jonesboro and Smyrna, told the Huffington Post that if Lewis were to support Boggs' confirmation he would have "betrayed Georgia."

"He is speaking for the White House and not women, African-Americans or gays with this new position, and he has turned his back on his own supporters," Scott told the online newspaper on Sunday.

Scott talked to the Huffington Post after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that despite serious concerns about Boggs, she was swayed by Lewis's private assurance that Boggs was part of "a good ticket" of nominees.

Critics have attacked Boggs for his votes while a Georgia legislator to restrict abortions, post a public registry of doctors who performed them, bar same-sex marriage in the state and retain the Confederate battle emblem as part of the state flag.

Feinstein told CNN that she was not ready to announce how she would vote on Boggs because of her conversation with Lewis, insisting, "I know he has some very strong support, even in the African-American community in the state of Georgia."

Last winter, that support did not include Lewis, along with two fellow recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Dr. Joseph Lowery and the Rev. C.T. Vivian. Like Lewis, they are former leaders of the civil rights movement.

Lewis said at a Dec. 23 news conference after the President nominated Boggs as part of a package deal with Georgia's Republican senators that he intended to testify against Boggs at his confirmation hearing.

On Monday, Lewis said, "I have fought long and hard and even put my life on the line for the cause of equal rights and social justice. My commitment to these ideals has never changed, and my record is solid and unwavering. I take a back-seat to no one and have been at the forefront for decades in defense of the right to marry, a women's right to choose, and the imperative of non-violence as a means of dissent. I have worked tirelessly to rid Georgia, the South, and this nation from the stain of racial discrimination in any form, including the display of Confederate emblems in the Georgia state flag. I am not about to change that position now."

Lewis said that he had of late refrained from making public statements about Boggs "out of respect for my colleagues and the Senate process. I believe it is important to allow each candidate to be evaluated according to his or her own merits and to allow the Senate judicial nomination process to take its course. This willingness to permit due process is all that I have indicated in any conversation I may have had with my colleagues." But, added, "I did not at any time indicate my support for the Boggs nomination or say that he had the backing of the African-American community in Georgia."

Boggs defended or explained his legislative record by saying that he was carrying out the wishes of his constituents in voting for bills he told the committee were "ill-conceived," "inappropriate" or a violation of his own conscience.

Boggs was also taken to task by Democratic committee members for omitting any mention in his Senate questionnaire of his support as a legislator for a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, his votes on the Georgia flag and for abortion bills supported by Georgia's pro-life movement.

The nominee also was challenged by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., whether the judge's re-election campaign's contributions to Georgia Conservatives in Action, which is incorporated as a tax-exempt social welfare organization, may have been a violation of the Georgia Code of Judicial Ethics.

On Monday, Scott's office issued a statement praising Lewis for his announcement. "This statement by Rep. Lewis is wonderful," Scott's statement said. "It clears any doubt to the Senate that Georgia Democrats oppose the Boggs nomination. We are all united against his views on the Confederate flag, anti-choice laws, and LGBT progress. We ask the Senate to reject him. There are thousands of qualified attorneys in Georgia who could be considered."

Boggs was part of a deal that senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss struck with the White House to end a political impasse that had left three seats vacant on the U.S. District Court bench in Atlanta and two vacant seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. There are now seven nominees from Georgia awaiting action from Georgia.

Last Thursday, Isakson told The Huffington Post that the deal he and Chambliss struck that allowed them to name four of what were then six open slots included a provision that the Judiciary Committee "would hear all seven of them and the committee would vote whichever way they vote."

Isakson's office would not elaborate on any understanding he might have as to how the vote would take place and whether the nominees would be voted on as a bloc rather than individually. On Monday, an Isakson spokeswoman referred the Daily Report's questions to the Judiciary Committee.

There an aide referred the Daily Report to a statement that Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., issued midway through Boggs' confirmation hearing last week.

In that statement, Leahy said, "There is no 'deal' negotiated with me as chairman. ... The constitutional responsibility of advice and consent resides with each individual senator, and there is no such thing as a binding deal that negates each senator's responsibility to determine the fitness of a judicial nominee for a lifetime appointment."

A Chambliss spokeswoman said the senator does not comment on judicial nominees.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Brown v. Board of Education: A Dream in the Balance

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

This decision, outlawing segregation in public education, was the product of an ongoing quest for racial equality which had begun decades before. For many at the time, the decision seemed to promise that inequalities based on race would soon become a thing of the past.

Sixty years later, many things have changed, but the optimism inspired by the Brown decision has sometimes been difficult to sustain. The broad consensus for racial justice which once existed has faded in many quarters. Inequalities have persisted, and efforts to correct them have often been met with fierce resistance.

The Southern Regional Council believes that the business of achieving a just society in the American South remains unfinished. Our work to illuminate opportunities for change continues.

As part of the Council’s observance of the 50th Anniversary of this decision, Carol Mitchell Leon and the Clark Atlanta University Players presented a dramatization of the events leading up to the decision and its meaning.

This video features excerpts from this presentation.

Part 1

Part 2

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lillian Smith Book Awards: Featured 2014 Nominee

Greater than Equal:
African American Struggles for Schools and
Citizenship in North Carolina, 1919-1965

By Sarah Caroline Thuesen

During the half century preceding widespread school integration, black North Carolinians engaged in a dramatic struggle for equal educational opportunity as segregated schooling flourished. Drawing on archival records and oral histories, Sarah Thuesen gives voice to students, parents, teachers, school officials, and civic leaders to reconstruct this high-stakes drama. She explores how African Americans pressed for equality in curricula, higher education, teacher salaries, and school facilities; how white officials co-opted equalization as a means of forestalling integration; and, finally, how black activism for equality evolved into a fight for something "greater than equal"--integrated schools that served as models of civic inclusion.

These battles persisted into the Brown era, mobilized black communities, narrowed material disparities, fostered black school pride, and profoundly shaped the eventual movement for desegregation. Thuesen emphasizes that the remarkable achievements of this activism should not obscure the inherent limitations of a fight for equality in a segregated society. In fact, these unresolved struggles are emblematic of fault lines that developed across the South, and serve as an urgent reminder of the inextricable connections between educational equality, racial diversity, and the achievement of first-class citizenship.
Recipient of the North Carolinina Book Award, North Carolina Society.
About the Author

Sarah Thuesen teaches history at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C.


"Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."

"An impressive book full of fascinating stories. Thuesen's style is clear and easy to follow, her research is excellent, and her exploration of black education in North Carolina is thorough."
--Adam Fairclough, Leiden University

"Historically rich and convincingly rendered. Thuesen addresses conflicting interpretations of black educational advocacy prior to desegregation without losing sight of poignant individual stories."
--Vanessa Siddle Walker, Emory University

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thirty-Nine Books Nominated for 2014 Lillian Smith Book Awards

The Southern Regional Council (SRC) recently announced that thirty-nine books have been nominated for the Lillian Smith Book Awards for 2014 to be presented in Decatur, Georgia on August 31, 2014.
SRC is an inter-racial organization founded in 1919 to combat racial injustice in the South. SRC initiated the Lillian Smith Book Awards shortly after Smith's death in 1966 to recognize authors whose writing extends the legacy of the outspoken writer, educator and socialcritic who challenged her fellow Southerners and all Americans on issues of social and racial justice. Since 2004 the awards have been presented by SRC in a partnership with the University of Georgia Libraries, whose Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library houses a historic collection of Lillian Smith's letters and manuscripts. The Georgia Center for the Bookbecame a partner in 2007, when the awards ceremony first became part of the Decatur Book Festival.

The award recipients for 2013 were Benjamin Elijah Mays: Schoolmaster to the Movement by Randal Maurice Jelks and Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta After World War II by Francois Hamlin.
The 2014 nominated books are:






From the Bullet to the Ballot:  The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago
Jakobi Williams
University of North Carolina Press
W.E.B. DuBois and The Souls of Black Folk
Stepanie J. Shaw
University of North Carolina Press
Greater Than Equal:  African American Struggles for Schools and Citizenship in North Carolina, 1919-1965
Sarah Caroline Thuesen
University of North Carolina Press
Atlanta, Cradle of the New South:  Race and Remembering in the Civil War’s Aftermath
William A. Link
University of North Carolina Press
James J. Kilpatrick:  Salesman for Segregation
William P. Hustwit
University of North Carolina Press
One Place:  Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia
Photographs and text by Paul Kwilecki, Edited by Tom Rankin
University of North Carolina Press
Blinded by the Whites:  Why Race Still Matters in 21st Century America
David H. Ikard
Indiana University Press
That The Blood Stay Pure:  African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia
Arica L. Coleman
Indiana University Press
Healing Histories:  Stories from Canada’s Indian Hospitals
Laurie Meijer Drees
University of Alberta Press
Flashes of War:  Short Stories
Katey Schultz
Loyola University’s Apprentice House
How It Feels to be Free:  Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement
Ruth Feldstein
 Oxford University Press
NAACP Youth and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1936-1965
Thomas L. Bynum
University of Tennessee Press
In Peace and Freedom:  My Journey in Selma
Bernard LaFayette Jr. and Kathryn Lee Johnson
University Press of Kentucky
A Cold Coming
W. Jeff Bishop
Boll Weevil Press
Between North and South:  Delaware, Desegregation, and the Myth of American Sectionalism
Brett Gadsden
University of Pennsylvania Press
The Fall of the House of Dixie:  The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South
Bruce Levine
Random House
According to Our Hearts:  Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family
Angela Onwuachi-Willig
Yale University Press
I Am Troy Davis
Jen Marlowe
Haymarket Books
Drama High:  The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater
Michael Sokolove
Riverhead Books
Looking for Palestine:  Growing up Confused in an Arab-American Family
Najla Said
Riverhead Books
Pitch Dark Anarchy:  Poems
Randall Horton
Northwestern University Press
Autogeography:  Poems
Reginald Harris
Northwestern University Press
I Am Malala:  The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban
Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
Little, Brown and Company
Defining the Struggle:  National Organizing for Racial Justice, 1880-1915
Susan D. Carle
Oxford University Press
From Selma to Montgomery:  The Long March to Freedom
Barbara Harris Combs
A Different Sun:  A Novel of Africa
Elaine Neil Orr
Berkley Books/Penguin
Stars of the Savanna
Melanie R. Martel
WPR Books
The Investigator:  Fifty Years of Uncovering the Truth
Terry Lenzner
Blue Rider Press
We Shall Not Be Moved:  The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement it Inspired
M. J. O’Brien
University Press of Mississippi
Wash:  A Novel
Margaret Wrinkle
Grove Atlantic, Inc.
On Sal Mal Lane:  A Novel
Ru Freeman
Graywolf Press
Men We Reaped:  A Memoir
Jesmyn Ward
A Campaign of Quiet Persuasion:  How the College Board Desegregated SAT® Test Centers in the Deep South, 1960-1965
Jan Bates Wheeler
LSU Press
Student Activism and Civil Rights in Mississippi:  Protest Politics and the Struggle for Racial Justice, 1960-1965
James P. Marshall
LSU Press
A Thousand Hills to Heaven:  Love, Hope and a Restaurant in Rwanda
Josh Ruxin
Little, Brown and Company
Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities
Chris Kluwe
Little, Brown and Company
Remembering Medgar Evers:  Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement
Minrose Gwin
University of Georgia Press
Turn Me Loose:  The Unghosting of Medgar Evers:  Poems
Frank X. Walker
University of Georgia Press
Saving the Soul of Georgia:  Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights
Maurice C. Daniels
University of Georgia Press