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Greater Freedom

The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina

Charles W. McKinney Jr.

Greater Freedom offers a groundbreaking long-term community study of Wilson County, North Carolina. Charting the evolution of Wilson's civil rights movement, Charles McKinney argues that African Americans in Wilson created an expansive notion of freedom that influenced every aspect of life in the region and directly confronted the state's reputation for moderation. Through exhaustive research and a compelling narrative, McKinney chronicles the approaches and perspectives that blacks in this eastern North Carolina county utilized to confront white supremacy. In the face of violence, intimidation, and marginalization, voting rights activists, educational reformers, the collaboration of union members, students, and working class black women activists in Wilson built a grassroots movement that helped shape the course of the national civil rights movement in America. « less more »
University Press of America
Pages: 314Size: 6 x 9 1/4
978-0-7618-5230-8 • Paperback • September 2010 • $46.99 • (£31.95)
978-0-7618-5231-5 • eBook • September 2010 • $43.99 • (£29.95)
Charles W. McKinney, Jr. is an assistant professor of history at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.
Chapter 1 List of Abbreviations
Chapter 2 Acknowledgements
Chapter 3 Map of Wilson County
Chapter 4 Introduction
Chapter 5 1. Building Freedom from the Ground Up
Chapter 7 2. The Idea of Citizenship Was Never Greater: Organizing the Foundations of a Movement
Chapter 8 3. "A Little Too Much for a Self-Respecting White Man to Swallow": Brown and its Aftermath
Chapter 9 4. We Began to Question Where We Never Questioned Before: The Struggle to Build a Movement
Chapter 10 5. Somewhere Down the Line We Decided to Organize: Integration, Housing and the Ascendancy of "Lower Income Negro Citizens"
Chapter 10 Conclusion: Race, Class, Memory and the Pursuit of Greater Freedom
Chapter 11 Selected Bibliography
Chapter 12 Index
McKinney’s book is meticulous in its research and is a welcome treatment, in language and assessment, of the vitality of local civil rights struggles to a unified national movement that changed America.
Journal of American History

Greater Freedom is more than just a compelling narrative of the efforts of the black citizens of Wilson and Wilson County to achieve civil and economic rights. Charles McKinney has skillfully demonstrated the value of detailed local studies in understanding how the entire civil rights movement became a sum of all of its parts. This work challenges scholars to pay attention to temporal boundaries and also to be aware that the many unknown actors in local studies are perhaps the true heroes and heroines of the black freedom struggle. McKinney has made an important contribution to the overall synthesis of civil rights studies and set a high standard for those wishing to follow in his footsteps.
North Carolina Historical Review

A notable addition to the growing body of 'bottom up' civil rights studies is Charles McKinney's Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina. McKinney succeeds in providing civil rights scholarship with a concisely written and thoroughly researched local study. . . .Greater Freedom, which sprang forth from over a decade of research and writing, provides its audience with a noteworthy grassroots chronicle. MicKinney's activist history responsibly employs a cross-social approach in chronicling the aims and empowerment of people from varied economic, educational, occupational, and gender backgrounds. This academic piece is a valuable addition to the expansive field of local civil rights study.
The Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians

With a compelling storytelling style, Charles McKinney paints a vibrant, complex portrait of the civil rights struggle in…Wilson. He details African-American networks and movement centers, making visible the long-term commitment and small steps that served as the base for the more dramatic, visible moments…[McKinney] makes a major contribution, bringing to life the ways class and gender played out in the…movement….He expands our sense of movement goals and actors in the ongoing quest for 'greater freedom.'
Emilye Crosby, author of A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi

Historians have longed for granular and detailed local studies of the epochal Civil Rights Movement. Now with… this beautifully written, adroitly researched and brilliantly argued book, their prayers have been answered resoundingly.
Gerald Horne, author of Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s

The…triumphalist tale that begins with a weary seamstress in Montgomery and ends on a bloody balcony in Memphis takes a telling blow in Charles McKinney's Greater Freedom… McKinney's deep insights into the local dynamics of African American freedom politics defy conventional understandings of 'civil rights' and 'Black Power,' revealing a hardscrabble landscape that historians…must incorporate as we move towards any valid new synthesis of the movement in the South. This is an important and much-needed contribution to African American and Southern history.
Timothy B. Tyson, author of Radio Free Dixie and Blood Done Sign My Name