Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement
An Anthology

Edited by Margaret Earley Whitt

The first anthology dedicated to stories inspired by events of the civil rights movement


"I know of no other collection with the focus of this fine anthology. Readers who worked in the movement and who grew up during that era will find these stories especially fascinating. But Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the many perspectives on and the myriad emotions behind the historical events of one of the most transformative periods in American history."
—Suzanne Jones, author of Race Mixing: Southern Fiction since the Sixties

"Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement comes at a time when public awareness of life in the segregated South and of trials of the Civil Rights Era seem to be fading. With this anthology, Whitt hopes to raise that awareness again, by introducing readers to one of the most intense periods of American history."
Black Issues Book Review

During the civil rights era, masses of people marched in the streets, boycotted stores, and registered to vote. Others challenged racism in ways more solitary but no less life changing. These twenty-three stories give a voice to the nameless, ordinary citizens without whom the movement would have failed. From bloody melees at public lunch counters to anxious musings at the family dinner table, the diverse experiences depicted in this anthology make the civil rights movement as real and immediate as the best histories and memoirs.

Each story focuses on a particular, sometimes private, moment in the historic struggle for social justice in America. Events have a permanent effect on characters, like the white girl in "Spring Is Now" who must sort through her feelings about the only black boy in her school, or the black preacher in "The Convert" who tells a friend, "This thing of being a man . . . The Supreme Court can't make you a man. The NAACP can't do it. God Almighty can do a lot, but even He can't do it. Ain't nobody can do it but you." If a character survives—and some do not—the event can become a turning point, a vision for a better world.

The sections into which the stories are grouped parallel the news headlines of the day: School Desegregation (1954 on), Sit-ins (1960 on), Marches and Demonstrations (1963 on), and Acts of Violence. In the last section, Retrospective, characters look back on their personal involvement with the movement. Twenty writers—eleven black and nine white—are represented in the collection. Ten stories were written during the 1960s. That the others were written long after the movement's heyday suggests the potency of that time as a continuing source of creative inspiration.


Page count: 368 pp.
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.25


List price: $26.95

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Margaret Earley Whitt is a professor of English at the University of Denver. Her books include Understanding Gloria Naylor and Understanding Flannery O'Connor.