Cover image for Carry me home : Birmingham, Alabama : the climactic battle of the civil rights revolution
Carry me home : Birmingham, Alabama : the climactic battle of the civil rights revolution
McWhorter, Diane.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2001]

Physical Description:
701 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Maps on lining papers.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F334.B69 N449 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
F334.B69 N449 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F334.B69 N449 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F334.B69 N449 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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"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, 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 primary 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 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."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Diane McWhorter, a daughter of Birmingham's white elite, is a journalist & regular contributor to The New York Times & USA Today. She has also written about race & politics for The Washington Post, People, & other major publications. She lives in New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

In this groundbreaking book, McWhorter, a journalist and regular contributor to the New York Times and USA Today, tells the story of her hometown, Birmingham, Alabama, and the dramatic events that unfolded there during the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. A daughter of Birmingham's privileged elite, McWhorter weaves a personal narrative through this startling account of the history, events, and major players on both sides of the civil rights battle in that city. In painstaking detail, she reveals the hardships and horrors (including police dogs, water cannons, and bombings) faced by the Black Freedom Fighters, but she also plainly shows the conspiracy between the town's establishment, the city's public officials, and the vicious Klansmen who did the "dirty" work, in their furious resistance to desegregation. Exhaustively researched yet still compellingly readable, McWhorter's book is an excellent choice for libraries. --Kathleen Hughes

Publisher's Weekly Review

The story of civil rights in Birmingham, Ala., has been told before from the unspeakable violence to the simple, courageous decencies but fresh, sometimes startling details distinguish this doorstop page-turner told by a daughter of the city's white elite. McWhorter, a regular New York Times contributor, focuses on two shattering moments in Birmingham in 1963 that led to "the end of apartheid in America": when "Bull Connor's police dogs and fire hoses" attacked "school age witnesses for justice," and when the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Church, killing four black girls. Yet she brings a gripping pace and an unusual, two-fold perspective to her account, incorporating her viewpoint as a child (she was largely ignorant of what was going on "downtown," even as her father took an increasingly active role in opposing the civil rights movement), as well as her adult viewpoint as an avid scholar and journalist. Surveying figures both major and minor civil rights leaders, politicians, clergy, political organizers of all stripes her panoramic study unmasks prominent members of Birmingham in collusion with the Klan, revealing behind-the-scenes machinations of "terrorists on the payroll at U.S. Steel" and men like Sid Smyer, McWhorter's distant cousin, who "bankrolled... one of the city's most rabid klansmen." McWhorter binds it all together with the strong thread of a family saga, fueled by a passion to understand the father about whom she had long harbored "vague but sinister visions" and other men of his class and clan. (Mar. 15) Forecast: McWhorter's prominence and her willingness to name names as well as her exhaustive research and skillful narrative virtually guarantee major review attention. Bolstered by an eight-city tour and a pre-pub excerpt in Talk in February, the 50,000-copy first printing should move fast. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

McWhorter, who was born into Birmingham's white elite, examines the city's pivotal role in the battle for civil rights. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Nineteen years ago journalist McWhorter (New York Times, USA Today) began research to understand Birmingham in 1963 and the part her family, especially her father, played in the events of that time. She skillfully tells the story of the city's Big Mules, who dominated the community socially, economically, and politically. They succeeded in protecting their profits and position through the use of class, race, religion, and communism to defeat labor unions, Reds, and blacks. This local power structure used lower-class thugs in the KKK and other organizations to divide Protestant and Catholic to prevent the rise of labor unions, and later used the Red Scare to battle the Civil Rights Movement. Local and state laws enforced by Bull Connor's police with the help of the KKK and racist judges kept a tight lid on dissent. Yet blacks successfully challenged the system through demonstrations that rallied the people, the nation, and the Kennedy administration to change fear to hope. Among blacks, the author praises primarily Fred Shuttlesworth, but no one escapes her criticisms. That includes her father who, according to him, did not kill anyone. McWhorter writes well, but the story is very involved. Good documentation. All collections. L. H. Grothaus emeritus, Concordia University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 15
Introduction: September 15, 1963p. 19
Part I Precedents, 1938-1959
1. The City of Perpetual Promise: 1938p. 31
2. Ring Out the Old: 1948p. 56
3. Mass Movements: 1954-1956p. 84
4. Rehearsal: 1956-1959p. 111
Part II Movement, 1960-1962
5. Breaking Outp. 149
6. Actionp. 179
7. Freedom Ridep. 200
8. Pivotp. 236
9. The Full Castp. 259
10. Progressp. 282
Part III The Year of Birmingham, 1963
11. New Day Dawnsp. 303
12. Mad Dogs and Responsible Negroesp. 323
13. Baptismp. 338
14. Two Mayors and a Kingp. 351
15. D-Dayp. 365
16. Miraclep. 379
17. Maydayp. 396
18. The Thresholdp. 411
19. Edge of Heavenp. 423
20. No More Waterp. 441
21. The Schoolhouse Doorp. 455
22. The End of Segregationp. 466
23. The Beginning of Integrationp. 477
24. All the Governor's Menp. 487
25. A Case of Dynamitep. 497
26. The Evep. 509
27. Denise, Carole, Cynthia, and Addiep. 519
28. Aftershocksp. 531
29. BAPBOMBp. 544
30. General Lee's Namesakesp. 559
Epiloguep. 571
Afterwordp. 589
Abbreviations Used in Source Notesp. 603
Notesp. 607
Selected Bibliographyp. 677
Acknowledgmentsp. 687
Indexp. 693