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Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution Paperback – February 5, 2002
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"The Year of Birmingham," 1963, was a cataclysmic turning point in America's long civil rights struggle. That spring, child demonstrators faced down police dogs and fire hoses in huge nonviolent marches for desegregation. A few months later, Ku Klux Klansmen retaliated by bombing the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and killing four young black girls. Diane McWhorter, journalist and daughter of a prominent Birmingham family, weaves together police and FBI documents, interviews with black activists and former Klansmen, and personal memories into an extraordinary narrative of the city, the personalities, and the events that brought about America's second emancipation.
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Until I saw that she has spend 19 years on intense research it was impossible to imagine she might have acquired the detail interactions of the participants in that drama. The out standing actor is Fred Shuttlesworth and on my reading that at the entrance to his final resting place, “at the wooded entrance to the historic downtown graveyard, a giant American flag swelled from the extended ladder of a Birmingham fire truck,” I could not suppress a thunderous sob.
Who might look forward to reading Carry Me Home, very few I suspect. It lays open a grotesque sore of American History and the author’s technique of laying down detain, hour by hour day by day, is trying to any reader; take it in small doses but persist for there is pleasure in knowing that for almost all Americans today North and South that sore was well lanced by Shuttlesworth and his better known assistances’; we are healthier people for it. But healthier is not synonymous with well as McWhorter goes on to show discussing more current Birmingham Alabama and American events.
The author’s sections entitled ‘McWhorter’ goes a long way towards explaining motivation for the book, as father and family holds a role as racist, if not bomber.
I read in numerous books how Birmingham was the city of hate. And how the children marching was key to the shift in people's views that led to civil rights. But this explained why.
With the focus on Birmingham you see the South in detail and how the culture, the local politics, and the specific people impacted and eventually shifted the world. It also paints a complete picture of the key people involved which adds so much.
I was reading until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer at night. And then back to reading the first thing the next morning. Incredibly well written.
There is plenty of violence and FBI involvement so surprises are frequent as the story develops. I read this book before Thomas BORSTELMANN's and Mary L. Dudziak's. Having done so gave me a much better understanding of how integration/segregation crises in the south had so much influence on how the Cold War (and Viet Nam) had to be managed to have democracy prevail in the competition with socialism in the world.