Monday, November 16th, 2009 by

We thought Diane McWhorter had it right in her comments about This Day in Civil Rights History by Horace Randall Williams and Ben Beard. She called the volume “a wonderful compendium” and also “a compellingly readable sampling of historic events both well known and obscure, inspiring and appalling.” But in his Arts & Literature blog review for our new book, Art Taylor identifies one of the book’s key features: 

“While most of the events commemorated here fall during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s—what we traditionally think of as the Civil Rights Era—the book importantly stretches outside of that narrowest of definitions. On September 20, for example, you’ll learn that Maryland passed the nation’s first miscegenation laws on that date in 1664—and that Alabama was the last state to hang on to such laws, right up into the 21st century. And the span of that entry is important, because the book stresses that civil rights news and issues persist up to to very recent history, whether the Confederate flag controversy in 1998 (October 14) or the reopening of the Emmett Till murder case in 2004 (May 10).”

In his introduction to the book, Horace Randall Williams, who happens also to be a founding partner in NewSouth Books and our company’s editor-in-chief, says, “This book takes the long view that the civil rights movement began with slavery and continues to the present day. The 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March is here, of course, but so is the 1917 parade organized by the NAACP of 10,000 silently tramping down New York City’s Fifth Avenue to protest the St. Louis race riot. Rosa Parks is here, of course, but so is freedman David Ruggles, who filed a lawsuit in 1841 after being dragged out of a whites-only railroad car. The famous Tuskegee Airman of World War II fame are here, but so is Robert Smalls, a slave who commandeered a Confederate ship in 1862 and sailed it out of Charleston Harbor and turned it over to the Union navy. The 1664 passage of the nation’s first miscegenation law is here, but so is the 2003 announcement by a biracial South Carolina woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond.”

Today’s entry commemorates the life and death in the year 2000 of Georgia activist Hosea Williams.

Thanks, Art, for the fulsome review.

This Day In Civil Rights History is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.