The Pursuit of Racial Justice in the Rural SouthRichard A. Couto
Combining oral history and "political archeology," Richard A. Couto grounds the African American struggle for justice in the lives of ordinary people making extraordinary progress on issues such as land ownership, education, voting, work, and health care in the face of violent repression. Focusing especially on federally-funded community health centers, he closely examines four rural Southern communities: Haywood County, Tennessee; Lee County, Arkansas; Lowndes County, Alabama; and Sea Islands, South Carolina.
Through the voices of local leaders, organizers, and activists, the author sensitively depicts efforts to reverse the economic, social, and political deprivation of African Americans in these areas. In their fight for human dignity and equality, these residents established health care centers, registered voters, and improved educational opportunities, relying not only on federal funding but often on personal sacrifice. To place these contemporary narratives in the century-long succession of efforts to redress racial prejudice, Couto selects material from the Civil War to the present for the purpose of illuminating recent events in these areas. He also examines the effects of retracted funding by the Reagan administration.
"Through an adroit interweaving of oral history accounts from each of the counties...Couto shows the impact of New Deal measures in the 1930s and '40s; the Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and '60s; and the creation of federally funded cooperative health clinics in the 1970 and '80s." —Choice
"Couto introduces us to unknown and unsung heroes who register voters, establish health care centers, improve education, and locate jobs, hacking away at the vines to get closer to the roots of discrimination, poverty, ignorance, and sickness.... Couto has been one of the heroes himself." —Southern Seen
"A fascinating study which masterfully weaves together the ways in which communities helped shape and responded to federal policy initiatives to secure racial justice and equality.... It promotes a more comprehensive analysis of the origins of the civil rights movement, its process, and outcome." —Patricia Sullivan, Carter G. Woodson Institute, University of Virginia
"(The themes of this book) are a rich part of the history of the region and the country that we just don't have. You won't find them written in any history book you'll ever come across. Again and again, I was struck by historical references...many, many of them very meaningful and touching." —John Seigenthaler, The (Nashville) Tennessean