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A Guided History of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama

January 19 marks the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., a remembrance of the life and legacy of a man who championed racial justice and equality.

From the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, to the 1965 Selma to Montgomery protest march, King led many pivotal civil rights events in Alabama, a state considered by many to be the epicenter of civil rights movement in America.

After the fall of segregation, local activists in Alabama struggled to carry on King’s vision for social and political change.

UT alumna Susan Youngblood Ashmore (B.A. History, ’83) tells their story in “Carry it On: The War on Poverty and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, 1964-1970″ (University of Georgia Press, 2008).

In the wake of the Vietnam antiwar movement, destructive urban riots and the assassination of president Kennedy, a series of tumultuous events in civil rights history unraveled in the Deep South.

Resurfacing the pivotal events, overshadowed during our nation’s “great unraveling,” Ashmore, now an associate professor of history at Emory University, provides a comprehensive account of the continued struggle for equality in Alabama.

Ashmore looks closely at the antipoverty fight among southerners in the Alabama Black Belt, the state’s poorest counties that stretch from Tuskegee to the Mississippi state line. With a particular focus on local antipoverty projects funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity, she analyzes the rise in economic justice and political power among African Americans.

Compiling historical records from interviews, government documents, books and newspaper articles, Ashmore offers an in-depth study of the barriers African Americans faced during a time of incredible transition.

What do you think was the most pivotal moment of the civil rights movement in America?