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TitleThe Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism
File Size3.5 MB
Total Pages317
Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
1 Jim Crow Public Libraries before 1954
2 Rumbles of Discontent before 1960
3 Memphis, Tennessee, and Greenville, South Carolina
4 Petersburg and Danville, Virginia
5 Alabama
6 Georgia
7 Mississippi
8 Black Youth in Rural Louisiana
9 The American Library Association
APPENDIX: Selected List of Public Library Protesters
Note on Primary Sources
Document Text Contents
Page 158

racial epithets before being conducted out of the building by a
policeman Blalock had called. When others told the mayor to reverse the
library board’s decision, Blalock offered to take the heat. “Just tell them
I did it,” she told the mayor. “They can blame me. Tell them you didn’t
have anything to do with it.” Eventually the tension dissipated. “You
know, that’s not so bad,” said a man Blalock called “one of the worst
racists in the world” when he saw black people lined up for borrower’s
cards. When the man who had torn up his library card returned to check
out a book two weeks later, Blalock presented him with the pieces she
had taped together.30

Page 159



As part of the southern Massive Resistance, in 1956 the Georgia state
legislature adopted a resolution to void the Supreme Court’s Brown
decision—ultimately an effort in futility—and incorporated an image of
the Confederate flag on its state flag that it did not remove until 2001.
But Georgia’s experiences in resisting civil rights activists were generally
not as violent as those in other Deep South states. Martin Luther King
Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference was born there in 1957,
and in 1960 he returned to Atlanta to serve as co-pastor at Ebenezer
Baptist Church with his father. A year later, both the University of
Georgia and the Atlanta public schools integrated.1 Although most
efforts to desegregate public libraries in Georgia were nonviolent, as in
Alabama none occurred in a vacuum. In some cases, integration of
Georgia public libraries took place without demonstration; in others, the
public library was one of several public and private institutions
demonstrators included in a scattergun approach aimed at all local Jim
Crow institutions. In yet others, protesters made the public library the
primary target. The desegregation of public libraries in Savannah,
Albany, and Columbus illustrate all three.



While Freedom Riders tested Jim Crow throughout the South in the
summer of 1961, that July—without public announcement—Savannah
desegregated its library system, including its central Bull Street Library

Page 316

Wallis, C. Lamar, 71, 72, 74
war industry desegregation, 4

(Wilkerson), 4
Warren, Earl, 12
Washington, Booker T., 22, 27, 29, 30, 39–40
washrooms. restrooms
water fountains. drinking fountains Watters, Annie. McPheeters, Annie Watters Webster
Parish, LA, 40

Wedgeworth, Robert, 207
Wells, Ida B., 20
Wheeler, Joseph, 192–93
White Citizens’ Councils, 7, 45, 65, 118
Mississippi, 146, 165, 240n34
Montgomery, AL, 124
Selma, AL, 128

Wicker, Walter, 240n34
Wilkerson, Isabel: , 4
Wilkins, Roy, 150
Will, Frances Allegra. Turner, Allegra Williams, E. C., 186
Williams, Garth: , 63–64
Williams, Jerry, 90, 92, 97
Williams, Linwood, 62
Williams, R. G., 84, 86, 88
Williams, Robert A., 90
Williams, Robert F., 57–58
Wilson, George, 49, 50
Wilson, Jerry, 160

, 190, 194, 197
Winston County, AL, 121
Winter Park, FL, 34–35
women’s clubs, 35–36, 52, 60
federations of, 29, 51

Works Progress Administration (WPA), 36–37, 38
World War II, 4, 5, 6
Wren, Wills Randall, 150, 152, 154
Wright, Doris, 80
Wright, Gavin, 15–16, 147
Wright, James R., 46
Wright, Richard, 4–5, 46–48, 157, 192, 206

, 191–92

YMCA and YWCA libraries, 55, 185
Young, Aurelia, 152
Young, Jack H., 151–52
Young, Whitney, 58

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