Southern Journey: A Return to the Civil Rights Movement

Thomas C. Dent, Author, Tom Dent, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-14099-1
A black youth reared in segregated New Orleans, Dent went to Mississippi for the civil rights movement, and that experience stuck with him. So in 1991, he decided to work his way south from Greensboro, N.C., to Mississippi, skirting both large cities and important officials, to talk to (mostly) black folk and to assess the movement's legacy. At times, Dent's meandering approach lacks depth and is unwieldy, but his personal connection to his inquiry informs his story with commitment. In Greensboro, the unresolved gap between blacks and whites, exemplified in an anniversary celebration of the city's historic sit-ins, remind Dent ""of the strained interracial meetings of the 1950s."" In Orangeburg, S.C., a black academic tells him ruefully that many social-work students go into ""criminal justice"" lacking the broader awareness of the politics behind the new programs. In Albany, Ga., Dent discerns signs of material progress but deep divisions not only between the races but also within the black community. In Mississippi, where he sees black political victories as having had a relatively small payoff, he becomes convinced that a new black organization is needed to supplant the NAACP to address national political issues of special concern to blacks (education, unemployment) and to monitor cases of police and official abuse and discrimination. Though not quite a complete plan, it's a constructive response to Dent's conclusion that the civil rights movement opened up doors, but ""once inside, well, there was hardly anything there."" Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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