A fascinating look at one of the most crucial places and periods in the civil rights movement through two polar opposites.
Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, an African-American minister, was committed to ending segregation in Birmingham, Ala., and Eugene “Bull” Connor was just as determined to see it maintained. Shuttlesworth was drawn to preaching and teaching as a young man, and his fiery personality led him to seek change in his community. His agitation for the hiring of black police officers outraged “Bull” Connor, Commissioner for Public Safety, who was determined to “…put the Negro in his place, something he liked to brag about knowing how to do.” Brimner captures the intense and often violent struggle between the forces for change and those seeking to keep the status quo in a city known as “Bombingham.” He carefully explores the realities both men faced and does not shy away from depicting their complex personalities. The author is also clear about his point of view. While he admires Shuttlesworth, he understands the importance of Connor’s role. “Without this staunch racist and his harsh response to the African American cry for justice, civil rights progress might have taken an even longer time in coming.”
A clean, graphically interesting design abets a well-researched, engaging narrative that contributes a more nuanced view of the period than is often seen. (author's note, further reading, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)