Presents the story of the civil rights movement from the perspective of community-municipal history at the grassroots level
Thornton demonstrates that the movement had powerful local sources in its three birth cities—Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. There, the arcane mechanisms of state and city governance and the missteps of municipal politicians and civic leaders—independent of emerging national trends in racial mores—led to the great swell of energy for change that became the civil rights movement.
“Thornton's opus is the most important book to be written on the civil rights movement in a decade. . . . It is impossible to truly understand the movement without reading, absorbing, and analyzing this first-rate study of three Alabama cities in turmoil.”
—Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies and Professor of History at the University of New Orleans
“Dividing Lines will quickly come to be regarded as the most original and interpretively significant work of civil rights movement historiography to have been published within the past 15 or 20 years, or perhaps simply ever.”
—David J. Garrow, author of Bearing the Cross