Cover image for Reporting civil rights, part one : American journalism 1941-1963.
Reporting civil rights, part one : American journalism 1941-1963.
Publication Information:
New York : Library of America : Distributed to the trade in the U.S. by Penguin Putnam, c2003.
Physical Description:
996 p. : illustrations.
[This book] offers a uniquely panoramic perspective on the fight to over-throw segregation in the United States.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 323.1 REP PT. 1 1 1

On Order



First published for the fortieth anniversary of the March on Washington, this Library of America volume along with its companion chronicles over thirty tumultuous years in the struggle of African-Americans for freedom and equal rights.

The first volume follows the rise of the modern civil rights movement from A. Philip Randolph's defiant 1941 call for a protest march on Washington to the summer of 1963 and the eve of the march that finally shook the nation's conscience. Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Pauli Murray, and Bayard Rustin record the growing determination of African-Americans in the 1940s to oppose racial injustice; Murray Kempton and William Bradford Huie report on the lynching of Emmett Till; Ted Poston offers an inside look at the courage and resourcefulness of the Montgomery bus boycotters; Relman Morin in Little Rock and John Steinbeck in New Orleans witness the terrors of mob rage; David Halberstam and Louis Lomax describe the wildfire spread of the sit-in movement; James Baldwin investigates the Nation of Islam.

Robert Penn Warren's "Segregation," a Southern moderate's soul-searching interrogation of the traditions of his native region, is included in its entirety, as is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s classic defense of civil disobedience, "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Remarkable but little-known reporters from the African-American press, among them James Hicks of the Amsterdam News, George Collins of the Baltimore Afro-American, L. O. Swingler of the Atlanta Daily World, and Trezzvant Anderson of the Pittsburgh Courier, are reprinted here for the first time, along with astonishing eyewitness accounts of movement activism by Fannie Lou Hamer, Tom Hayden, and Howard Zinn.

Each volume contains a detailed chronology of events, biographical profiles and photographs of the journalists, explanatory notes, and an index.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

Author Notes

The editorial advisory board for Reporting Civil Rights includes Clayborne Carson , senior editor, The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr .; David J. Garrow , Presidential Distinguished Professor, Emory University; Bill Kovach , chairman, Committee of Concerned Journalists; and Carol Polsgrove , professor of journalism, Indiana University.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In time for the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Library of America is publishing a landmark collection of civil rights reporting in America, Reporting Civil Rights. The two-volume work is at once a testament to our country's First Amendment rights, and a somber yet inspiring portrait of oppression. The editorial advisory board, which includes Clayborne Carson, David J. Garrow, Bill Kovach and Carol Posgrove, has chosen pieces that span from 1941, when blacks struggled for equal treatment in the Army, to 1973, when, writes Alice Walker, "freedom [was] still an elusive tease, and in the very act of grabbing for it one [could] become shackled." Among the treasures here are Langston Hughes's 1945 recollection of eating in dining cars south of the Mason-Dixon line; a 1963 piece by Hunter S. Thompson on Louisville, Ky. ("a Southern city with Northern problems"); and John Hersey's 1964 article from The Saturday Evening Post about a black man who tries to register to vote. There are nearly 200 newspaper and magazine reports, book excerpts and features in each volume. B&w photos. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the March on Washington, this collection captures the long, arduous struggle for civil rights. The two-volume set begins with A. Philip Randolph's 1941 urgent call for black Americans to march on the nation's capital and ends with Alice Walker's poignant 1973 recollection of that march. In between are nearly 200 articles, essays, and book excerpts recalling the purpose and power of the civil rights movement and its profound influence on changing the status quo of race relations in the U.S. Volume 1, chronicling developments from 1941 through 1963, includes Carl Rowan on school desegregation, Martin Luther King's letter from the Birmingham jail, Charlayne Hunter on her harrowing experience integrating the University of Georgia, and Howard Zinn's criticism of John F. Kennedy as a "reluctant emancipator." Volume 2, which covers 1963 through 1973, includes Russell Baker on the 1963 March on Washington, Claude Sitton on the Birmingham church bombing that killed four black girls, Marc Crawford on Malcolm X's break with the Nation of Islam, and Earl Caldwell on the assassination of Martin Luther King. Other contributors include James Baldwin, Jimmy Breslin, Robert Coles, Joan Didion, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, Lillian Smith, John Steinbeck, Calvin Trillin, and Tom Wolfe. Both volumes include inserts of news photographs, biographical sketches of the contributors, and explanatory notes. An important anthology for readers interested in the history of the civil rights movement. --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

These new editions cover the American Civil Rights Movement from 1941 through 1973. In the tradition of the publisher's superb Reporting Vietnam: American Journalism, 1959-1975, the volumes present newspaper and magazine articles from the popular and African American press. Volume 1 opens with an appeal in the May 1941 Black Worker calling for a protest march on Washington, DC, that July. The second volume closes with Alice Walker's 1973 "Staying Home in Mississippi" from the New York Times Magazine. In between, we experience race riots in World War II, the Montgomery bus boycott, the rise of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, the Watts riots, gains in obtaining voting and civil rights, and failures to obtain greater economic and social equality. The 151 writers whose works are collected here include Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, John Hersey, Robert Penn Warren, David Halberstam, Jimmy Breslin, James Baldwin, Marshall Frady, and Tom Wolfe. Reading their articles brings alive the tastes, sounds, textures, and emotions of this tumultuous and epic period in American life. Each volume also contains a chronology and biographical sketches of the contributors. Recommended for all libraries.-Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ., Parkersburg (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Lillian Smith, from Killers of the Dream (1949) Even its children know that the South is in trouble. No one has to tell them; no words said aloud. To them, it is a vague thing weaving in and out of their play, like a ghost haunting an old graveyard or whispers after the household sleeps-fleeting mystery, vague menace, to which each responds in his own way. Some learn to screen out all except the soft and the soothing; others deny even as they see plainly, and hear. But all know that under quiet words and warmth and laughter, under the slow ease and tender concern about small matters, there is a heavy burden on all of us and as heavy a refusal to confess it. The children know this "trouble" is bigger than they, bigger than their family, bigger than their church, so big that people turn away from its size. They have seen it flash out like lightning and shatter a townÆs peace, have felt it tear up all they believe in. They have measured its giant strength and they feel weak when they remember. This haunted childhood belongs to every southerner. Many of us run away from it but we come back like a hurt animal to its wound, or a murderer to the scene of his sin. The human heart dares not stay away too long from that which hurt it most. There is a return journey to anguish that few of us are released from making. We who were born in the South call this mesh of feeling and memory "loyalty." We think of it sometimes as "love." We identify with the SouthÆs trouble as if we, individually, were responsible for all of it. We defend the sins and sorrows of three hundred years as if each sin had been committed by us alone and each sorrow had cut across our heart. We are as hurt at criticism of our region as if our own name were called aloud by the critic. We have known guilt without understanding it, and there is no tie that binds men closer to the past and each other than that. James Baldwin, from The Fire Next Time November 1962 There is absolutely no reason to suppose that white people are better equipped to frame the laws by which I am to be governed than I am. It is entirely unacceptable that I should have no voice in the political affairs of my own country, for I am not a ward of America; I am one of the first Americans to arrive on these shores. Fannie Lou Hamer, from Mississippi Black Paper June 1963 When we were put in the jail, and when I was put in the jail, I told them that nothing is right around here. The arresting officer had lied and said that I was resisting arrest. I told them that I was not leaving my cell, and that if they wanted me they had to kill me in the cell and drag me out. I would rather be killed inside my cell instead of outside the cell. Doctor Searcy, Cleveland, Mississippi, said that I had been beaten so deeply that my nerve endings are permanently damaged, and I am sore. Tom Dent, Freedomways January-June 1963 I read some of the mail Jay [James Meredith, the first black student at Ole Miss] had received; there were boxes of letters in his bedroom. White southerners, Negroes from the north and south, soldiers, school children, college students and student-associations, foreign students, social workers (the most predictable, self-conscious letters), religious crackpots, race baiters and race haters-all wrote. Meredith had touched something deep in these people. The ones that most moved me were from white southern youths. They couldnÆt ignore the realities of racial oppression any longer and they felt guilty about it. The letters appeared to be attempts to somehow expiate their guilt: "Go boy go, we canÆt tell our friends how we feel, but weÆre for you." Anne Moody, from Coming of Age in Mississippi September 1962 In mid-September I was back on campus. But didnÆt very much happen until February when the NAACP held its annual convention in Jackson. They were having a whole lot of interesting speakers: Jackie Robinson, Floyd Patterson, Curt Flood, Margaretta Belafonte, and many others. I wouldnÆt have missed it for anything. I was so excited that I sent one of the leaflets home to Mama and asked her to come. Three days later I got a letter from Mama with dried-up tears on it, forbidding me to go to the convention. It went on for more than six pages. She said if I didnÆt stop that shit she would come to Tougaloo and kill me herself. She told me about the time I last visited her, on Thanksgiving, and she had picked me up at the bus station. She said she picked me up because she was scared some white in my hometown would try to do something to me. She said the sheriff had been by, telling her I was messing around with that NAACP group. She said he told her if I didnÆt stop it, I could not come back there any more. He said that they didnÆt need any of those NAACP people messing around in Centreville. She ended her letter by saying that she had burned the leaflet I sent her. "Please donÆt send any more of that stuff here. I donÆt want nothing to happen to us here," she said. "If you keep that up, you will never be able to come home again." Excerpted from Reporting Civil Rights by Clayborne Carson, David J. Garrow, Bill Kovach, aCarol Polsgrove Copyright © 2003 by The Library of America Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.