Cover image for "We want our freedom" : rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement
"We want our freedom" : rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement
Towns, W. Stuart, 1939-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxvii, 283 pages, 10 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
"The whites have absolute control of the state government, and we intend at any and all hazards to retain it" : why there had to be a civil rights movement -- The river of change : beginning to question the racist system, 1920s to 1940s -- Black southerners challenge the system, the 1950s : the movement begins -- The movement hits full stride : the 1960s -- "Betrayers of their race" : Southern white liberals -- "There always has to be a Faubus" : white resistance and the rhetoric of fear.
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E185.61 .W34 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the decades following the Civil War, white southerners throughout the region created a system of racial segregation designed to perpetuate white supremacy, guarantee white leadership, and keep black southerners in their place. For over half a century, this brutal, violent, and inhumane system penalized both races educationally, socially, and economically. This collection of speeches examines the conditions that made a Civil Rights Movement necessary, ranging from early supporters of civil rights for African Americans to defenders of segregation, as well as what enabled the movement to triumph. Towns includes many speeches by lesser-known persons, such as Fannie Lou Hamer and James M. Lawson Jr.

After World War II, as new opportunities for education, travel, and economic growth for southerners in general and black southerners in particular, a major social movement swept the region. By the mid- to late-1960s, a significant revolution in southern folkways and culture had occurred. By 1965, southern blacks had achieved first-class citizenship under the laws of the land, in spite of the oratorical tirades and the ugly violence of southern white supremacist demagogues. The rhetoric and leadership of many black grassroots activists, along with a solid cadre of white support, created an environment in which the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally leveled the playing field.

Author Notes

W. Stuart Towns is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at Appalachian State University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The speeches in this volume represent the second most important historical event that occurred in the long history of the south. The Civil Rights Movement swept the region from 1954 to 1965. The speeches collected here reflect the passion, commitment, dreams, and aspirations of both African American and white southerners who sought to refine and define the relationship between the races in the South. Towns (communication, Univ. of West Florida) devotes the first chapter to speeches delivered by white southerners who shared their sentiments and perceptions in advocating that black southerners should remain second-class citizens. He devotes the remaining four chapters to the advocacy of human rights and equality for all disenfranchised groups, as articulated by various leaders of the southern-based Civil Rights Movement. The volume seeks to shed light on why there had to be a Civil Rights Movement and on the conditions necessary for both black and white southerners to engage in it. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. J. D. Hamlet Northern Illinois University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
1. "The Whites Have Absolute Control of the State Government, and We Intend at Any and All Hazards to Retain It": Why There Had to Be a Civil Rights Movementp. 1
James Clarence Harper, "Separate Schools for White and Colored with Equal Advantages"; Mixed Schools Never! U.S. House of Representatives, May 4, 1872p. 4
Benjamin Ryan Tillman, Inaugural as South Carolina Governor, Columbia, South Carolina, December 4, 1890p. 14
Wade Hampton, Negro Emigration, U.S. Senate, January 30, 1890p. 26
James Mathews Griggs, We Propose to Maintain the Supremacy of the Anglo Saxon Race in the South, U.S. House of Representatives, February 1, 1900p. 34
2. The River of Change: Beginning to Question the Racist System, 1920s to 1940sp. 43
James Weldon Johnson, Our Democracy and the Ballot, New York City, March 10, 1923p. 46
A. Philip Randolph, March on Washington Address, Detroit, Michigan, September 26, 1942p. 54
Thurgood Marshall, The Legal Attack to Secure Civil Rights, NAACP Wartime Conference, 1944p. 62
W.E.B. Du Bois, Behold the Land, Columbia, South Carolina, October 20, 1946p. 71
3. Black Southerners Challenge the System, the 1950s: The Movement Beginsp. 79
John Hope Franklin, Desegregation--The South's Newest Dilemma, London, September 8, 1955p. 82
Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at Holt Street Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, December 5, 1955p. 89
Roy Wilkins, Remarks at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, D.C., May 17, 1957p. 93
A. Philip Randolph, Remarks at the Prayer Pilgrimage, Washington, D.C., May 17, 1957p. 98
Martin Luther King Jr., Keynote Speech at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, D.C., May 17, 1957p. 102
Daisy Bates, The New Negro, Detroit, Michigan, May 2, 1958p. 107
Medgar Evers, Address at a Mass Meeting of the Los Angeles Branch NAACP, May 31, 1959p. 115
4. The Movement Hits Full Stride: The 1960sp. 123
James M. Lawson Jr., Speech at SNCC Founding Conference, Raleigh, North Carolina, April 1960p. 125
Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at a Rally to Support the Freedom Riders, Montgomery, Alabama, May 21, 1961p. 131
Diane Nash, Inside the Sit-Ins and Freedom Rides: Testimony of a Southern Student, Detroit, Michigan, August 1961p. 134
Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, May 3, 1963p. 147
Medgar Evers, Remarks of Mr. Medgar Evers for Delivery over WLBT and WJTV, Jackson, Mississippi, May 20, 1963p. 152
Roy Wilkins, Remarks at Funeral Services for Medgar W. Evers, Jackson, Mississippi, June 15, 1963p. 157
John R. Lewis, "... A Serious Revolution," Washington, DC, August 28, 1963p. 161
Martin Luther King Jr., Eulogy to Victims of Birmingham Church Bombing, Birmingham, Alabama, September 18, 1963p. 164
Fannie Lou Hamer, Testimony of Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruleville, Miss., Washington, DC, June 16, 1964p. 167
Aaron Henry, Keynote Address to Mississippi State Convention of NAACP, Jackson, Mississippi, November 6, 1964p. 173
Stokely Carmichael, Speech at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, January 28, 1967p. 179
5. "Betrayers of Their Race": Southern White Liberalsp. 195
Clark Foreman, Keynote Address to Southern Youth Legislature, Columbia, South Carolina, October 19, 1946p. 197
Sarah Patton Boyle, Democracy Depends on You, Ashland, Virginia, September 23, 1956p. 204
Lillian Smith, The Moral and Political Significance of the Students' Nonviolent Protests, Washington, D.C., April 21, 1960p. 211
Anne Braden, Address to Annual Convention of SCLC, Birmingham, Alabama, September 27, 1962p. 218
6. "There Always Has to Be a Faubus": White Resistance and the Rhetoric of Fearp. 231
James O. Eastland, The Supreme Court, Segregation, and the South, U.S. Senate, May 27, 1954p. 233
Thomas Pickens Brady, Segregation and the South, San Francisco, California, October 4, 1957p. 244
Orval E. Faubus, Speech of Governor Orval E. Faubus, Little Rock, Arkansas, September 18, 1958p. 254
J.P. Coleman, Setting the Record Straight, Jackson, Mississippi, June 29, 1959p. 265
Indexp. 275