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H-NET BOOK REVIEW Published by H-Law@h-net.msu.edu (January 2007) Stephen G. N. Tuck. _Beyond Atlanta: The Struggle for Racial Equality in Georgia, 1940-1980_. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2003. 360 pp. Illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $19.95 (paper), ISBN 0-8203-2528-7. Reviewed for H-Law by Ted Ownby, History and Southern Studies, University of Mississippi Georgia's Civil Rights Movements Stephen Tuck's book does a superior job detailing the various movements that coalesced or coincided as part of the civil rights movement in Georgia. Following the lead of many scholars who have called for local approaches to the movement, Tuck studies numerous Georgia communities, individuals, and movements to chart the nature and direction, goals and strategies, personalities and challenges, of the various struggles. The book emphasizes multiplicity. Different places had different types of movements, and those movements went in different directions. The book shows the author has taken note of the various emphases popular in recent scholarship about the civil rights movement. Tuck studies both African Americans and whites, considers economics and the national context, studies religious groups, women, students, and urban leaders without suggesting that any group dominated the movement, pays more attention to the NAACP than many scholars and, above all, emphasizes variety in local contexts, leadership, strategies, and goals. At the heart of the book are comparisons between the movement in Atlanta and the rest of Georgia. As the South's urban center, Atlanta had a large African American population with established institutions and leadership, and it became the headquarters of several civil rights organizations. While Atlanta activists were moving slowly, Ralph Mark Gilbert, a Baptist minister in Savannah, led the state's first NAACP campaign for voter registration and political influence in the 1940s, but, Tuck shows, that movement had lost coordination and most of its influence by the early 1950s under pressure from white supremacists led by Eugene and then Herman Talmadge. In Atlanta, by contrast, a substantial white group called for moderation, economic development, and obeying the law, and many of its citizens, white and black, felt they were in the vanguard of progress. But much of that apparent progress moved very slowly and, Tuck concludes of the situation in the 1950s, "In the context of the South, the story of Atlanta was the classic case of minimal white concessions maintaining maximum racial segregation" (p. 95). Protests in the early 1960s by student and other groups led to very slow, institution-by-institution decline in segregation in Atlanta while, Tuck shows, other parts of Georgia either, like Savannah, moved forward with more dramatic successes, or like Albany, witnessed so much white resistance that the movements did not have clear successes. A thorough and important chapter on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)'s Southwest Georgia Project in the mid-1960s shows that despite much energy and heroism, some projects did not have lasting impact in overturning segregation or opening up new opportunities. Tuck surveys the forms of activism after the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and finds that many activists, far from the picture common in many histories, increased their efforts to work within the system, especially in desegregating schools and voting. While some projects failed, more continued or changed into ongoing, specific efforts at reform. This book is best at telling detailed, personality-filled stories scholars have not told, putting the stories in order, and comparing the stories to each other. Both through his use of oral history and because of his interest in variety, previously obscure individuals and organizations come to life page after page. The primary concern about this book relates to its approach, which studies the civil rights movement at the local level. Is it possible that multiplicity and complexity have taken over our forms of analysis, and that scholars no longer seek main themes and broad explanations? Saying that things were complex is almost always true. Saying that things had different histories in different places is usually true as well. Tuck's book is far better than this oversimplification implies, and the author, to be fair, recognizes the potential problem. He writes early in the book that "the danger of a state study is that it produces a multiplicity of micro-histories and a proliferation of detail" (p. 5). But the broad point seems accurate--this book is best at telling numerous stories and noting how they differed from other stories. In doing so, it rejects any broad conclusions as too simple. As a profession, we need such books, because we need to know the stories of many people who struggled and only sometimes succeeded. But we also should consider the implications of studying a multiplicity of local movements moving in multiple ways. Does this approach suggest that the term "civil rights" is too narrow? Was the movement primarily about voting and political power? Was it about overturning segregation, with all of its economic, educational, legal, and emotional aspects? Was it more about overturning discrimination? What did various people see as needing to come first, and what seemed most important? Even if it does not answer these questions with quick and straightforward answers, _Beyond Atlanta _, by telling important stories and drawing intriguing comparisons, makes an important contribution to the history of the civil rights movement. Copyright (c) 2006 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For other uses contact the Reviews editorial staff: email@example.com.