A Child Shall Lead Them

A Child Shall Lead Them: Martin Luther King Jr., Young People, and the Movement

Rufus Burrow
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    A Child Shall Lead Them
    Book Description:

    Half a centlury after some of its most important moments, the assessment of the Civil Rights Era continues. In this exciting volume, Dr. Rufus Burrow turns his attention to a less investigated but critically important byway in this powerful story--the role of children and young people in the Civil Rights Movement. What role did young people play, and how did they suport the efforts of their elders? What did they see--and what did they do?--that their elders were unable to envision? How did children play their part in the liberation of their people? In this project, Burrow reveals the surprising power of youth to change the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-8762-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreward: Beyond Emmett Till The Hope of a New Generation
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Michael G. Long

    If there’s anything that shocks students in my civil rights course, it’s the photograph of the mangled corpse of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old Chicagoan lynched by two adult thugs under the cover of night in Money, Mississippi in August 1955. Till, an African American, had broken local customs by whistling at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, at a small grocery store she and her husband Roy owned and operated. In turn, Roy and his half-brother, J. W. Milam, self-appointed guardians of Jim Crow in Money, exacted revenge on young Till by pistol-whipping him, shooting him in the head, and dumping...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxxiv)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xxxv-xxxviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Because Martin Luther King Jr. was recovering from being nearly stabbed to death by Izola Ware Curry as he autographed copies of his first book (Stride Toward Freedom) at Blumstein’s Department Store in Harlem on September 20, 1958, his wife delivered his written address to young people who participated in the Youth March for Integrated Schools in Washington, D.C. on October 25, 1958. King cheered, praised, and encouraged young people for what he considered a “great and historic demonstration” for freedom. Through his wife King told the youths:

    There is a unique element in this demonstration; it is a young...

  7. 1 Montgomery “Just to See Empty Bus, after Empty Bus Go By …”
    (pp. 17-54)

    The bus boycott (1955–1956) was not the first time that black residents boycotted public transportation in Montgomery, Alabama. Longtime black residents remembered that in August of 1900 (four years after the landmark ruling inPlessy v. Fergusonmade “separate but equal” the law of the land) blacks organized a two-year boycott of segregated seating on city streetcars. “In response many of the city’s African-American ministers urged their congregations to walk instead of ride. The protest forced the streetcar firm to suspend segregation, though Jim Crow seating resumed after the boycott died down.”¹ Not only is this evidence that blacks...

  8. 2 Sitting-In and Taking a Ride for Freedom
    (pp. 55-96)

    The beginning of the sit-in movement pre-dated the founding of SNCC, but was a reason for that organization’s birth. In addition, and most important for our purpose, the sit-in movement was not initiated and led by any of the already formally established civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, SCLC, and CORE. Rather, the sit-in movement was ignited on February 1, 1960 by four black male freshmen college students at North Carolina A&T College in Greensboro: David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and Ezell Blair Jr. (who later changed his name to Jibreel Khazan). The four students had at one...

  9. 3 Birmingham and the Children’s Crusade
    (pp. 97-148)

    Because he believed Birmingham, Alabama to be “a symbol of segregation for the entire South,” Martin Luther King was adamant that if they could crack that city they could crack the South,¹ a point, we will see, that could also be made about the Mississippi Delta. The churches and homes of so many blacks in Birmingham, Alabama were bombed by white racists by the early 1960s that the city was given the nickname “Bombingham,”² the bombing capital of the United States. One black neighborhood was bombed so frequently that it was known as “Dynamite Hill.”³ Racism in Birmingham was often...

  10. 4 Mississippi Made to Disappear
    (pp. 149-216)

    As vicious and violent as Deep South cities such as Birmingham, Alabama—the bombing capital of the United States of America—was toward blacks during the civil rights struggle, it is not an exaggeration to say that places in Mississippi such as McComb, Philadelphia, and the entire Delta region were in an entirely different category. Other Deep South cities such as Birmingham and Selma were without question dangerous places for black people, but arguably no state in the nation was more dangerous for blacks than Mississippi, especially counties in the southwestern part of the state, for example, Pike, Amite, and...

  11. 5 Selma “What We Talk about Has Also to Do with the Children”
    (pp. 217-270)

    Selma, Alabama is the seat of Dallas County, located above the Alabama River. It was at one time a major cotton center and slave market. This all changed when, in 1848, a group of German immigrants arrived and turned toward iron making and manufacturing guns of all kinds. Second only to Richmond, Virginia, Selma became a major munitions supply center during the Civil War. Unfortunately, it also became a center of Klan and White Citizens Council activity, which did not bode well for its black residents.

    During the civil rights movement, blacks comprised about 57 percent of the population of...

  12. 6 Who Will Carry the Freedom Struggle Forward?
    (pp. 271-318)

    This book began by acknowledging that historically, blacks believed that their children had a certain place and expected them to remain in it. Childrearing itself was intentionally devoted to teaching this. From the time of slavery in the United States the very survival of black children and their parents frequently depended on how well the children understood their sense of place in the black family, and the importance of remaining silent around whites as to what transpired in the enslaved quarters. Not a few black parents were severely whipped because a black child innocently shared with white children conversations they...

  13. Index
    (pp. 319-331)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 332-332)