We Shall Not Be Moved
The Jackson Woolworth's Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired
M. J. O'Brien
Narrated by Mike McCartney
Approximately 13.5 hours
Book published by University Press of Mississippi
Once in a great while, a photograph captures the essence of an era: Three people—one black and two white—demonstrate for equality at a lunch counter while a horde of cigarette-smoking hotshots pour catsup, sugar, and other condiments on the protesters' heads and down their backs. The image strikes a chord for all who lived through those turbulent times of a changing America.
The photograph, which plays a central role in the book's perspectives from frontline participants, caught a moment when the raw virulence of racism crashed against the defiance of visionaries. It now shows up regularly in books, magazines, videos, and museums that endeavor to explain America's largely nonviolent civil rights battles of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Yet for all of the photograph's celebrated qualities, the people in it and the events they inspired have only been sketched in civil rights histories. It is not well known, for instance, that it was this event that sparked to life the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963. Sadly, this same sit-in and the protest events it inspired led to the assassination of Medgar Evers, who was leading the charge in Jackson for the NAACP.
We Shall Not Be Moved puts the Jackson Woolworth's sit-in into historical context. Part multifaceted biography, part well-researched history, this gripping narrative explores the hearts and minds of those participating in this harrowing sit-in experience. It was a demonstration without precedent in Mississippi—one that set the stage for much that would follow in the changing dynamics of the state's racial politics, particularly in its capital city.
M. J. O'Brien is a writer and researcher who served for twenty-five years as the chief communications and public relations officer for a national not-for-profit cooperative.
“It's all here: solid research, relevant history, honed prose. Masterpiece is not too grand a word to describe the excellence of M. J. O'Brien's enduring work.”
—Colman McCarthy, former columnist for the Washington Post and now director, Center for Teaching Peace, Washington, D.C.
“This book is full of new information and insights. And it is beautifully written, from the narrative of the sit-in itself to the detailed descriptions of the major players.”
—John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi and many other works
“Michael O'Brien has written a detailed history and fascinating study of one of the iconic moments of the modern civil rights movement and the powerful effect it had.... Avoiding the triumphalism of most civil rights history, O'Brien shows the human weaknesses common to us all, analyzing the emotions and maneuvering that characterized some of civil rights history. Readers will enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at an important event in movement history.”
—From the foreword by Julian Bond, chairman emeritus, NAACP
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