An engaging story of a man who demonstrated faith in his city, his region, and its people
During the 1960s, Birmingham, Alabama, became a major battleground in the struggle for human rights in the American South. As one of the most segregated cities in the United States, the city of Birmingham became known for its violence against blacks and the callous suppression of black civil rights.
In October of 1979, the city that had once used dogs and fire hoses to crush protest demonstrations elected a black mayor, Richard Arrington Jr. A man of quiet demeanor, Arrington was born in the small rural town of Livingston, Alabama, and moved to Birmingham as a child. Although he did not play a direct part in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Arrington was destined to bring about some fundamental changes in a city that once defied racial progress.
Professor Franklin’s book is guided by the assumption that Americans everywhere can find satisfaction in understanding the dynamics of social and political change, and they can be buoyed by the individual triumph of a person who beat the odds. Ultimately, Back to Birmingham will, perhaps, enable the reader to measure the distance black southerners have traveled over the decades.
American Jewish history has been criticized for its parochial nature because it has consisted largely of chronicles of American Jewish life and has often failed to explore the relationship between Jews and other ethnic groups in America.
Rabbi Morris Newfield led Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham from 1895-1940 and was counted among the most influential religious and social leaders of that city. Cowett chronicles Newfield’s career and uses it as a vehicle to explore the nature of ethnic leadership in America. In doing so he explores the conflicts with which Newfield struggled to help Jews maintain a sense of religious identity in a predominately Southern Christian environment. Newfield’s career also portrays the struggle of social welfare efforts in Alabama during the Progressive Era. He recognized the need for Jews to develop bonds with other American ethnic groups. Cowett portrays him as a mediator between not only Jew and Christian but also black and white, labor and capital, liberal and conservative—in short, within the full spectrum of political and social exchange in an industrial-based New south city.
This long-awaited volume is the first set of annotated oral interviews from the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement to be undertaken by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Interviewees recount their struggles against discrimination both in and outside of the workplace, showing how collective action, whether through unions, the Movement, or networks of workplace activists, sought to gain access to better jobs, municipal services, housing, and less restrictive voter registration. Black Workers’ Struggle for Equality in Birmingham is a powerful work that reconsiders the links of the labor movement to the struggle for civil rights.
First published in 1973, Elovitz provides the first substantial history of the Jews in the industrial south, starting with the establishment of the Jewish community in Birmingham, Alabama, during Reconstruction and continuing through the 1970s.
In the late 1870s, Jefferson County, Alabama, and the town of Elyton (near the future Birmingham) became the focus of a remarkable industrial and mining revolution. Together with the surrounding counties, the area was penetrated by railroads. Surprisingly large deposits of bituminous coal, limestone, and iron ore—the exact ingredients for the manufacture of iron and, later, steel—began to be exploited. Now, with transportation, modern extractive techniques, and capital, the region’s geological riches began yielding enormous profits.
A labor force was necessary to maintain and expand the Birmingham area’s industrial boom. Many workers were native Alabamians. There was as well an immigrant ethnic work force, small but important. The native and immigrant laborers became problems for management when workers began affiliating with labor unions and striking for higher wages and better working conditions. In the wake of the management-labor disputes, the industrialists resorted to an artificial work force—convict labor. Alabama’s state and county officials sought to avoid expense and reap profits by leasing prisoners to industry and farms for their labor.
This book is about the men who worked involuntarily in the Banner Coal Mine, owned by the Pratt Consolidated Coal Company. And it is about the repercussions and consequences that followed an explosion at the mine in the spring of 1911 that killed 128 convict miners.
Autobiography of jazz elder statesman Frank “Doc” Adams, highlighting his role in Birmingham, Alabama’s, historic jazz scene and tracing his personal adventure that parallels, in many ways, the story and spirit of jazz itself.
Doc tells the story of an accomplished jazz master, from his musical apprenticeship under John T. “Fess” Whatley and his time touring with Sun Ra and Duke Ellington to his own inspiring work as an educator and bandleader.
Central to this narrative is the often-overlooked story of Birmingham’s unique jazz tradition and community. From the very beginnings of jazz, Birmingham was home to an active network of jazz practitioners and a remarkable system of jazz apprenticeship rooted in the city’s segregated schools. Birmingham musicians spread across the country to populate the sidelines of the nation’s bestknown bands. Local musicians, like Erskine Hawkins and members of his celebrated orchestra, returned home heroes. Frank “Doc” Adams explores, through first-hand experience, the history of this community, introducing readers to a large and colorful cast of characters—including “Fess” Whatley, the legendary “maker of musicians” who trained legions of Birmingham players and made a significant mark on the larger history of jazz. Adams’s interactions with the young Sun Ra, meanwhile, reveal life-changing lessons from one of American music’s most innovative personalities.
Along the way, Adams reflects on his notable family, including his father, Oscar, editor of the Birmingham Reporter and an outspoken civic leader in the African American community, and Adams’s brother, Oscar Jr., who would become Alabama’s first black supreme court justice. Adams’s story offers a valuable window into the world of Birmingham’s black middle class in the days before the civil rights movement and integration. Throughout, Adams demonstrates the ways in which jazz professionalism became a source of pride within this community, and he offers his thoughts on the continued relevance of jazz education in the twenty-first century.
When Fred Shuttlesworth suffered only a bump on the head in the 1956 bombing of his home, members of his church called it a miracle. Shuttlesworth took it as a sign that God would protect him on the mission that had made him a target that night. Standing in front of his demolished home, Shuttlesworth vigorously renewed his commitment to integrate Birmingham's buses, lunch counters, police force, and parks. The incident transformed him, in the eyes of Birmingham's blacks, from an up-and-coming young minister to a virtual folk hero and, in the view of white Birmingham, from obscurity to rabble-rouser extraordinaire.
From his 1956 founding of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights through the historic demonstrations of 1963, driven by a sense of divine mission, Shuttlesworth pressured Jim Crow restrictions in Birmingham with radically confrontational acts of courage. His intensive campaign pitted him against the staunchly segregationist police commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor and ultimately brought him to the side of Martin Luther King Jr. and to the inner chambers of the Kennedy White House.
First published in 1999, Andrew Manis's award-winning biography of "one of the nation's most courageous freedom fighters" demonstrates compellingly that Shuttleworth's brand of fiery, outspoken confrontation derived from his prophetic understanding of the pastoral role. Civil rights activism was tantamount to salvation in his understanding of the role of Christian minister.
One August night in 1931, on a secluded mountain ridge overlooking Birmingham, Alabama, three young white women were brutally attacked. The sole survivor, Nell Williams, age eighteen, said a black man had held the women captive for four hours before shooting them and disappearing into the woods. That same night, a reign of terror was unleashed on Birmingham's black community: black businesses were set ablaze, posses of armed white men roamed the streets, and dozens of black men were arrested in the largest manhunt in Jefferson County history. Weeks later, Nell identified Willie Peterson as the attacker who killed her sister Augusta and their friend Jennie Wood. With the exception of being black, Peterson bore little resemblance to the description Nell gave the police. An all-white jury convicted Peterson of murder and sentenced him to death.
In Murder on Shades Mountain Melanie S. Morrison tells the gripping and tragic story of the attack and its aftermath—events that shook Birmingham to its core. Having first heard the story from her father—who dated Nell's youngest sister when he was a teenager—Morrison scoured the historical archives and documented the black-led campaigns that sought to overturn Peterson's unjust conviction, spearheaded by the NAACP and the Communist Party. The travesty of justice suffered by Peterson reveals how the judicial system could function as a lynch mob in the Jim Crow South. Murder on Shades Mountain also sheds new light on the struggle for justice in Depression-era Birmingham. This riveting narrative is a testament to the courageous predecessors of present-day movements that demand an end to racial profiling, police brutality, and the criminalization of black men.
This well-written volume explores the relationships between politics and welfare programs for low-income residents in Birmingham during four periods in the twentieth century:
• 1900-1917, the formative period of city building when welfare was predominantly a responsibility of the private sector;
• 1928-1941, when the Great Depression devastated the local economy and federal intervention became the principal means of meeting human need;
• the mid 1950s, when the lasting impacts of the New Deal could be assessed and when matters of race relations became increasingly significant;
• 1962-1975, when an intense period of local government reform, the Civil Rights movement, federal intervention in the form of the War on Poverty, and increasing demands for citizen participation all reinforced one another.
From the time of its founding in 1871, Birmingham has had a biracial population, so the theme of race relations runs naturally throughout the narrative. LaMonte pays particular attention to those efforts to achieve a more harmonious biracial community, including the failed effort to establish an Urban League in the 1940s, the progressive activities of the Community Chest’s Interracial Division in the 1950s, which were abruptly terminated, and the dramatic events of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, when local events were elevated to international significance.
This pathbreaking book tells the dramatic story of a unique manufacturing complex and the city that it helped to create. The events recounted and interpreted by W. David Lewis are of more than local or regional significance. The rise of Sloss furnaces and Birmingham epitomized the emergence of the United States as the world's foremost economic power. Similarly, the closing of a once-profitable ironmaking installation amid social and technological changes that convulsed Birmingham nine decades after the city's founding typified challenges that were facing America at the dawn of the postindustrial age.
Above all, Sloss Furnaces resonates with the class of competition and the frenetic energy with which southerners joined other Americans in a rush to transform a continent after a fratricidal drive for independence had failed. The sweeping narrative that Lewis has produced amply justifies its subtitle, An Industrial Epic.
On December 11, 1954, Charles Patrick drove to downtown Birmingham to buy a Boy Scout uniform for his son. Christmas traffic around the downtown department stores was heavy, and Patrick circled unsuccessfully until at last a streetside spot opened up and he began to pull in. As he did so, he was cut off by a woman who ordered him out of the way, as she was the wife of a city police officer. Patrick pulled away, remarking, “Ma’am, he doesn’t own the streets of Birmingham.”
Normal low-level urban hassle? Not in 1954 Birmingham, when the woman was white and Patrick black. The woman reported to her husband that a black man had sassed her, and Patrick was summarily arrested, charged with disorderly conduct, and placed in a cell where he was beaten by the husband and another police officer.
Usually that would have been the end of it, but Patrick was not the sort of man to meekly endure an injustice. He found an attorney, went to court to fight the charges, and brought his assailants to justice--as whites, blacks, politicians and the press offered public support.
This book tells the story of Patrick’s quest for justice in segregated Alabama on the eve of the civil rights movement and represents a telling instance of the growing determination of African Americans to be treated fairly, part of the broadening and deepening stream of resolve that led to the widespread activism of the civil rights movement.
On a sultry September morning in 1955, a young African American man, the son of share corppers, boarded a Greyhound bus in Birmingham, Alabama, to leave his home state for the first time in his life. He was headed for the University of Detroit on a teaching scholarship from MilesCollege. Richard Arrington could not have guessed then that his future as a teacher would be postponed for decades by big-city politics--and that he would serve a record-setting five terms as chief executive of Alabama’s largest city.
Under Arrington’s leadership, Birmingham rebuilt itself from a foundering, steel-driven industrial center to one of the most diversified metropolitan areas in the Southeast, with an economy fueled by health care, biomedical research, engineering, telecommunications, and banking. As mayor, Arrington’s economic legacy is impressive. When he left office, Birmingham boasted a record number of jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in its history. Additionally, Birmingham had built the strongest tax base in Alabama, expanded its city limits by 60 square miles, reduced crime to its lowest level in 25 years, and funded a $260 million school construction program. Today Birmingham is financially sound and is the only city in the Southeast with a $100 million endowment fund.