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Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa [Kindle Edition]

B. J. Hollars
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Opening the Doors is a wide-ranging account of the University of Alabama’s 1956 and 1963 desegregation attempts, as well as the little-known story of Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s, own civil rights movement.

Whereas E. Culpepper Clark’s The Schoolhouse Door remains the standard history of the University of Alabama’s desegregation, in Opening the Doors B. J. Hollars focuses on Tuscaloosa’s purposeful divide between “town” and “gown,” providing a new contextual framework for this landmark period in civil rights history. 

The image of George Wallace’s stand in the schoolhouse door has long burned in American consciousness; however, just as interesting are the circumstances that led him there in the first place, a process that proved successful due to the concerted efforts of dedicated student leaders, a progressive university president, a steadfast administration, and secret negotiations between the U.S. Justice Department, the White House, and Alabama’s stubborn governor.

In the months directly following Governor Wallace’s infamous stand, Tuscaloosa became home to a leader of a very different kind: twenty-eight-year-old African American reverend T. Y. Rogers, an up-and-comer in the civil rights movement, as well as the protégé of Martin Luther King Jr. After taking a post at Tuscaloosa’s First African Baptist Church, Rogers began laying the groundwork for the city’s own civil rights movement. In the summer of 1964, the struggle for equality in Tuscaloosa resulted in the integration of the city’s public facilities, a march on the county courthouse, a bloody battle between police and protesters, confrontations with the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, a bus boycott, and the near-accidental-lynching of movie star Jack Palance. 

Relying heavily on new firsthand accounts and personal interviews, newspapers, previously classified documents, and archival research, Hollars’s in-depth reporting reveals the courage and conviction of a town, its university, and the people who call it home.

Editorial Reviews


“B.J. Hollars has written an important, fascinating, and timely book about the desegregation era.”—Winston Groom, author of Shiloh, 1862; The Crimson Tide: The Official Illustrated History of Alabama Football, National Championship Edition; Vicksburg, 1863; and Forrest Gump

“Through its clear, journalistic style and logical structure, Opening the Doors tells a story that has been relevant since America’s founding and continues to be relevant today.”—The Los Angeles Review

“Anyone who loves history and Alabama will love this book. Hollars has the ability to always keep readers anticipating what will happen next. No other account gives a better background on this topic.”—Linda R. Beito, coauthor of Black Maverick: T. R. M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power

“This is a serious, high-minded, thoroughly researched piece of work by a very capable writer. The most important contribution of this book is to place the nationally symbolic story of the University of Alabama’s desegregation in the same context with the intense local struggle for civil rights that was taking place concurrently in Tuscaloosa, which is almost entirely overlooked in much of the civil rights literature. Hollars’s book goes a long way toward addressing that oversight and thus tells a story that most readers will find unfamiliar, yet intriguing.”—Frye Gaillard, author of Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement that Changed America and Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail: An Illustrated Guide to the Cradle of Freedom

"Opening the Doors is an insistence upon the long second look. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, becomes not that racist southern town trying to keep the blacks out of its university, but instead, and deservedly, a complicated city and people in the throes of social change. A city of multiplicities." —The Colorado Review

About the Author

B. J. Hollars is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and the author of Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1531 KB
  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0817317929
  • Publisher: University Alabama Press; 1st Edition edition (March 14, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,360,405 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Scenes January 13, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you enjoy history, you will definitely love this book. B.J. provides well documented insight to how this moment in Alabama history has shaped the future of politics, race relations, academics in colleges and universities as well as cinema. The author provides a honest visual of the behind-the-scenes struggle for desegregation and civil rights allowing readers to grasp all points of view. Thus making the unfamiliar familiar.
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More About the Author

B.J. Hollars is the author of two books of nonfiction--Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence and the Last Lynching in America (the 2012 recipient of the Society of Midland Author's Award) and Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa (the 2014 recipient of the Blei/Derleth Nonfiction Award)--as well as a collection of stories, Sightings. He has also edited three books: You Must Be This Tall To Ride: Contemporary Writers Take You Inside The Story (2009), Monsters: A Collection of Literary Sightings (2011) and Blurring the Boundaries: Explorations to the Fringes of Nonfiction (2013). His hybrid text, Dispatches from the Drownings: Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction was released in 2014. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.


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