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Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement Hardcover – February 9, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this exhaustively researched account of the civil rights movement, history and law professor Brown-Nagin focuses on the consequential roles of œlesser-known lawyers and organizers, litigators and negotiators, elites and the grassroots. The interests and methods of individuals and local groups, where intraracial and class-based conflicts emerge, differ from and, at times, challenge, national groups like the NAACP and the Legal Defense Fund. Brown-Nagin™s work recounts the Atlanta experience from the early 1950s, as Brown v. Topeka Board of Education moves through the court and community, to the 1970s, as issues of voting rights, housing, education, transportation, and public recreational space are faced locally, where œpragmatic civil rights... privileged politics over litigation, placed a high value on economic security, and rejected the idea that integration (or even desegregation) and equality were one and the same. Brown-Nagin™s meticulous, densely written account explores both little-known lives and less discussed litigations in a manner both accessible and scholarly. Even if there is a whiff of the dissertation, its œfrom the bottom account adds depth and freshness as well as some controversy to a moment in history about which, the author makes clear, there is much more to know. (Feb.)
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"Courage to Dissent is a magnificent achievement, brilliantly analyzing significant tensions within the civil rights movement: between different classes, generations, local and national actors, proponents of direct action and litigation, clients and lawyers. Elegantly written, prodigiously researched, and compellingly argued, Brown-Nagin has made an extraordinary contribution."--Michael J. Klarman, Harvard Law School, and winner of the 2005 Bancroft Prize for From Jim Crow to Civil Rights


"In an excellent work, Professor Brown-Nagin shines a welcome spotlight on unsung 'movement lawyers' like Donald Hollowell, Howard Moore, Jr., and Len Holt--legal warriors and allies of civil rights activists whose courage and skill have gone unrecognized. In the process, she reminds us of the possibility of nobility in the law and the legal profession."--Julian Bond, Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1998-2010


"In her magisterial account of the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta, Tomiko Brown-Nagin shows that it was not just elites working at the national level who had the power to change the course of history. Rather, the grassroots, composed of thousands of ordinary citizens, was crucial. Working together involved lots of conflict; yet, Brown-Nagin opens the door on a truly amazing synergy that ushered in a long overdue revolution. Courage to Dissent is a masterpiece of rigorous scholarship, careful analysis and good old-fashioned story-telling."--Lani Guinier, Professor of Law, Harvard University


"This is an absolutely compelling study of the tangled history of civil rights in Atlanta following World War II (and especially Brown v. Board of Education). No one interested in the actual operation of our fragmented legal system can ignore it, not to mention anyone interested in finding out more about the remarkable cast of characters who contended with one another in trying to shape the future of the South's most importa


Winner of the 2012 Bancroft Prize


Winner of the 2012 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award from the Organization of American Historians


"Courage to Dissent is quite simply the best legal history of the civil rights movement. Although centered on Atlanta, it offers the most comprehensive account of movement mobilization and legal change in the civil rights era in the scholarship today. No other legal scholar has gone as far in telling the story of the movement on such a grand scale... This is a compelling and challenging book. Brown-Nagin's book stands as one of the small number of essential texts in the field of modern American legal history. -- Christopher W. Schmidt, Vanderbilt Law Review


"A magnificent achievement, brilliantly analyzing significant tensions within the civil rights movement: between different classes, generations, local and national actors, proponents of direct action and litigation, clients and lawyers. Elegantly written, prodigiously researched, and compellingly argued...an extraordinary contribution."--Michael J. Klarman, Harvard Law School, and winner of the 2005 Bancroft Prize for From Jim Crow to Civil Rights


"A masterpiece of rigorous scholarship, careful analysis and good old-fashioned story-telling." --Lani Guinier, Professor of Law, Harvard University


"An absolutely compelling study of the tangled history of civil rights in Atlanta following World War II.... No one interested in the actual operation of our fragmented legal system can ignore it, not to mention anyone interested in finding out more about the remarkable cast of characters who contended with one another in trying to shape the future of the South's most important city." --Sanford Levinson, Professor of Law and Government, University of Texas


"An original and convincing approach to the legal history of the civil rights era, a fresh perspective on the Atlanta movement, and a model for integrating the national and local histories of civil rights struggles." --Journal of American History


"Excellent, exhaustively researched... Courage to Dissent is a fascinating and fresh look at the legal history of the civil rights movement and should become a standard work in the field." --Journal of Southern History


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2011 no other dates edition (February 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195386590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195386592
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.8 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This elegantly nuanced Bancroft Award-winning history of the long civil rights movement in Atlanta manages to steer clear of the historical (and historiographical) tendency to see issues of race in America in terms of polar opposites: most obviously, black vs. white, but integration vis-a-vis separatism, pragmatism in relation to community action, "movement" lawyering as distinct from top-down problem-"solving", and so on. Encompassing the big issues of education, voting rights, housing, public accomodations, and poverty, Brown-Nagin deals cogently with issues of class, community involvement, strategic subtleties, and what might be the very particular case of Atlanta (whose slogan as The City Too Busy to Hate is shown as, at best, dubious) in a way that raises every pertinent question and provides (as the circumstances didn't either) no easy answers. That is an amazing accomplishment. Moreover, she addresses a literal multitude of complex matters in a straightforward and understandable manner. As would be expected, not everything is crystal-clear; this particular layman was at times confused by some very dense and layered legal history, but for the most part this exceptional study is cogently laid out and argued. It will be unsettling to those who considered, for example, the issues raised by Brown v. Board of Education, a decision now nearly 60 years old, to have been settled, or even to have been clear. DuBois himself questioned whether separate education was "inherently" unequal, and so--- after reading this eloquent book--- might any thoughtful reader. 'tain't that simple.
By not-quite-coincidence, I have also been reading two recent books with the same title, Seeing through Race (respectively by W.J.T. Mitchell and Martin A. Berger).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I worked with Austin Ford, Ethel Mathews, Margie Pitts Hames on the Minority to Majority transfer program as well as the early work on Armour v. Nix. The early '70s was a time where African-Americans were starting to utilize and expand rights won during the '60s. The more mainline civil rights organizations and leaders like Benjamin Mays were concerned with political control and jobs for black professionals in the Atlanta Public Schools. Mrs. Mathews and some of the other NWRO ladies were more concerned with opportunities for impoverished children. The idea of a metropolitan school district would have cut off avenues for the white flight that ultimately did occur. The interests of well-off and middle class African Americans diverged from the interests of the poor. Then, as now, the black community was not the monolithic entity that many people imagine. Poliitical alliances were very fluid and subject to change.
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This book is excellent! I enjoyed reading about Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement. Although, I was aware of certain facts, the book provided a comprehensive study of the period. "Courage to Dissent" is a 2012 recipient of the Lillian Smith Book Award. I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in the Civil Rights Movement.
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Courage to Dissent has been very informative and that was my primary purpose for purchasing the book in the first place. It has exceeded my demands.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Used this book to write a major paper for a college class. It was great for that purpose. It also was a very interesting book!
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