From Publishers Weekly
Yale historian Gilmore turns a wide lens on the battle against Jim Crow in this worthy if overstuffed collective biography of the black and white Southern activists whose work before the larger Civil Rights movement constitute its neglected, forgotten or repressed origins. Expanding the temporal and geographical boundaries of the fight for racial equality, Gilmore's scholarship considers international racial politics and traces a progression from 1920s Communists, who joined forces in the late 1930s with a radical left to form a Southern popular front, to the 1940s grassroots activists. Gilmore (Who Were the Progressives?
) lavishes attention on the first American-born black Communist, Lovett Fort-Whiteman, who died in a Siberian gulag in 1939; and on FDR-era civil rights activist Pauli Murray, distinguished by her fight against segregation at the University of North Carolina in 1939 and her involvement in the defense of Virginia sharecropper Odell Walker, ultimately executed for killing his white landlord. Gilmore's sweeping, fresh consideration of pre-movement civil rights activity, with its links to both the exportation of American racism and the importation of Communist egalitarianism, is full of informative gems, but the mining is left to the reader. (Jan.)
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A sweeping, fresh consideration of pre-movement civil rights activism...full of informative gems. -- Publishers Weekly
An eye-opening book....richly textured....a full range of historical characters and events dominate the pages. -- Washington Post
Fascinating story of how communists, socialists, liberals, legal and labor activists helped lay the groundwork for the mainstream civil-rights breakthroughs. -- Kirkus Reviews
[R]ich....powerful and profound. -- The New York Times