Carry me home : Birmingham, Alabama, the climactic battle of the civil rights revolution

McWhorter, Diane

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  • Creator Diane McWhorter
  • Format Books
  • Publication New York : Simon & Schuster, [2001] ©2001
  • Physical Details
    • 701 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
  • ISBNs 0684807475, 9780684807478, 0743217721, 9780743217729
  • OCLC ocm45376386


  • McWhorter's magisterial narrative tells the story of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, from the '50s through the '60s. In the tradition of such histories as Parting the Water and Walking in the Wind, Carry Me Home" documents the real story of integrating the South. It tells the story of the city called Bombingham, from the fifties through the sixties. It focuses on the black freedom fighters as well as those who resisted them--country-club elite, police, vigilantes. Meet the children who braved police dogs & fire department hoses, as well as the Ku Klux Klansmen who retaliated with dynamite. The book also breaks new ground with its startling revelations about the perpetrators of the Sunday-morning bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which killed four black girls & still generates headlines nearly four decades later. In the tradition of such histories as Parting the Water & Walking in the Wind, Carry Me Home documents the real story of integrating the South. It reveals the collusion between the city's establishment--the Big Mules-- & its designated subordinates: public officials (including the infamous Bull Connor) & the Klansmen who did the dirty work. It describes the competition for primacy within the movement's black leadership, especially between Birmingham's flamboyant preacher-activist, Fred Shuttlesworth, & an already world-famous King, against the backdrop of a hesitant Kennedy administration & the corrupt Hoover FBI. Carry Me Home is a magisterial narrative that brings to life one of the most significant periods in American history. This is an invaluable contribution to the history of modern America. A major work of history, investigative journalism that breaks new ground, and personal memoir, Carry Me Home is a dramatic account of the civil rights era's climactic battle in Birmingham, as the movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., brought down the institutions of segregation. "The Year of Birmingham," 1963, was one of the most cataclysmic periods in America's long civil rights struggle. That spring, King's child demonstrators faced down Commissioner Bull Connor's police dogs and fire hoses in huge nonviolent marches for desegregation -- a spectacle that seemed to belong more in the Old Testament than in twentieth-century America. A few months later, Ku Klux Klansmen retaliated with dynamite, bombing the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and killing four young black girls. Yet these shocking events also brought redemption: They transformed the halting civil rights movement into a national cause and inspired the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which abolished legal segregation once and for all. Diane McWhorter, the daughter of a prominent white Birmingham family, brilliantly captures the opposing sides in this struggle for racial justice. Tracing the roots of the civil rights movement to the Old Left and its efforts to organize labor in the 1930s, Carry Me Home shows that the movement was a waning force in desperate need of a victory by the time King arrived in Birmingham. McWhorter describes the competition for primacy among the movement's leaders, especially between Fred Shuttlesworth, Birmingham's flamboyant preacher-activist, and the already world-famous King, who was ambivalent about the direct-action tactics Shuttlesworth had been practicing for years. Carry Me Home is the first major movement history to uncover the segregationist resistance. McWhorter charts the careers of the bombers back to the New Deal, when Klansmen were agents of the local iron and coal industrialists fighting organized labor. She reveals the strained and veiled collusion between Birmingham's wealthy establishment and its designated subordinates -- politicians, the police, and the Klan. Carry Me Home is also the story of the author's family, which was on the wrong side of the civil rights revolution. McWhorter's quest to find out whether her eccentric father, the prodigal son of the white elite, was a member of the Klan mirrors the book's central revelation of collaboration between the city's Big Mules, who kept their hands clean, and the scruffy vigilantes who did the dirty work. Carry Me Home is the product of years of research in FBI and police files and archives, and of hundreds of interviews, including conversations with Klansmen who belonged to the most violent klavern in America. John and Robert Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover, George Wallace, Connor, King, and Shuttlesworth appear against the backdrop of the unforgettable events of the civil rights era -- the brutal beating of the Freedom Riders as the police stood by; King's great testament, his "Letter from Birmingham Jail"; and Wallace's defiant "stand in the schoolhouse door." This book is a classic work about this transforming period in American history.


  • Maps on lining papers.
  • Includes bibliographical references (pages 661-669) and index.


  • pt. I. Precedents, 1918-1959. --Pt. II. Movement, 1960-1962. --Pt. III. The year of Birmingham, 1963
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