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Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the C

“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.The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, but a contemporary African American saying predicted that freedom would come only after another hundred years of struggle. That prediction was about right: the civil rights struggle erupted in the middle of the 20th century, with its violent epicenter in the industrial city of Birmingham, Alabama. There freedom riders and voter-rights activists faced down Klansmen and Nazis, who had put aside their own differences to cast a pall of terror–and the smoke of a well-orchestrated campaign of church bombings–over the South.

Diane McWhorter, a journalist and native Alabamian, offers a comprehensive, literate record of the struggle that covers more than half a century and that involves hundreds of major actors. Her work is solidly researched and highly readable, and it offers much new information. Among the many newsworthy aspects of the book are McWhorter’s discussions of internal power struggles within the civil rights movement, the uneasy role of Birmingham’s small Jewish population, and the collusion of local government–especially swaggering Police Commissioner Bull Connor. The author also addresses the segregationist and white-supremacist movements and recounts the tortuous quest to bring the church bombers to justice, which was finally accomplished in 2000. Carry Me Home is a worthy and highly recommended companion to Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters and Andrew Young’s An Easy Burden. –Gregory McNamee

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3 Comments

  1. jednick says:

    Comprehensive But Not An Easy “Read” 0

  2. Anonymous says:

    Triumph from a cauldron of evil! 0

  3. Anonymous says:

    part memoir part history 0

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