Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pg. 99: Glenda E. Gilmore's "Defying Dixie"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Glenda E. Gilmore's Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919–1950.

About the book, from the publisher:
A groundbreaking history of the Southern movement for social justice that gave birth to civil rights.

The civil rights movement that loomed over the 1950s and 1960s was the tip of an iceberg, the legal and political remnant of a broad, raucous, deeply American movement for social justice that flourished from the 1920s through the 1940s. This contentious mix of home-grown radicals, labor activists, newspaper editors, black workers, and intellectuals employed every strategy imaginable to take Dixie down, from a ludicrous attempt to organize black workers with a stage production of Pushkin — in Russian — to the courageous fight of striking workers against police and corporate violence in Gastonia in 1929. In a dramatic narrative Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore deftly shows how the movement unfolded against national and global developments, gaining focus and finally arriving at a narrow but effective legal strategy for securing desegregation and political rights. Little-known heroes abound in a book that will recast our understanding of the most important social movement in twentieth-century America.
Among the praise for Defying Dixie:

“[W]ith the publication of Glenda Gilmore's remarkable new book, Defying Dixie, the left-wing origins of the civil rights movement have risen to the surface of historical debate.... [N]o one who reads this eye-opening book will come away with anything less than a renewed appreciation for the complex origins and evolution of a freedom struggle that changed the South, the nation and the world.”
Raymond Arsenault, Washington Post

Defying Dixie tells of the most marginal of southerners: fierce radicals who at the height of Jim Crow dared to demand a world free of racial oppression and economic exploitation. Scorned and scarred for their beliefs, these courageous men and women risked everything to build a civil rights movement that shook the south to its core — and transformed the nation. Glenda Gilmore’s evocative, sensitive account endows their extraordinary story with the majesty it deserves.”
—Kevin Boyle, Ohio State University, National Book Award-winning author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

In recreating the lives and dreams of courageous Southerners, black and white, who posed an alternative vision for their tortured region based on social justice and racial equality, Glenda Gilmore has forever changed the way historians will write and teach about the roots of the modern civil rights movement. Elegantly written, chock full of historical nuggets, Defying Dixie is a work of stunning originality.”
—David Oshinsky, Jack S. Blanton Chair, University of Texas, and 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Polio: An American Story

“The map of the history of the civil rights movement will never look the same. Professor Gilmore has given us a new highway. Bypassed are all the biblically-named exits; gone too are all those black men guarding the ramps. The terrain is now radical country. Communists, once trolls under the bridge, are now sentinels of the new route. And Pauli Murray leads the way. A wonderful book.”
—William S. McFeely, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Grant: A Biography and Frederick Douglass

Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore’s fascinating account gives us the civil rights struggle from the Left–its more vigorous side before the 1950s—with the individuals and all their quirks left in. Lovett Fort-Whiteman and Pauli Murray head the cast of intriguing activists, whose personal character and their historic achievements Gilmore presents in her signature lively prose.”
—Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University, author of Creating Black Americans: African-American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present

“Glenda Gilmore's Defying Dixie is a triumph of narrative synthesis, a powerful meld of storytelling and interpretation that puts the radical and too often marginalized forerunners of the post-WW II civil rights generation front and center where they belong.”
—David Levering Lewis, New York University, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of W.E.B. DuBois, 1919-1963: The Fight For Equality and the American Century

Read an excerpt from Defying Dixie and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Glenda E. Gilmore is the Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History at Yale University. A North Carolina native, she writes extensively on Southern history. Her previous publications include Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1986-1920, which won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award, the James A. Rawley Prize, the Julia Cherry Spruill Prize, and Yale's Heyman Prize. She edited Who Were the Progressives (2002) and co-edited Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights (2001).

The Page 99 Test: Defying Dixie.

--Marshal Zeringue