Before You Travel On: Reflections on the Fortieth Anniversary Of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement

Speakers

Leah Rawls Atkins is the retired director of the Center for Arts and Humanities at Auburn University. A past president of the Alabama Historical Association, she has taught history at Auburn, the University of Alabama, and Samford University. Atkins is the author of several books including The Valley and the Hills: An Illustrated History of Birmingham and Jefferson County (Windsor Publications, 1981), co-author of Alabama: The History of a Deep South State (University of Alabama Press, 1994), recipient of the James F. Sulzby, Jr. Award of the Alabama Historical Association, and co-author of Made in Alabama: A State Legacy (Birmingham Museum of Art, 1995).

Atkins will speak at the March 3rd film and discussion Who Speaks for Birmingham.

Richard Arrington, Jr. is chairman and CEO of the consulting firm JennRo in Birmingham. In 1979 Arrington was elected Birmingham’s first African-American mayor and held that position for five terms before retiring in 1999. He had previously served as a member of the Birmingham city council and as a professor of biology and as academic dean at Miles College in Birmingham. Arrington has served as executive director of the Alabama Center for Higher Education and as a member of the executive committee of the Alabama Democratic Party.

Arrington will speak at the April 7th symposium The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of Alabama Politics.

Gerald Austin is pastor of the New City Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and president and founder of the Center for Urban Missions. The center directly addresses urban problems such as poverty, illiteracy and violence. 

Austin will present the May 8th lecture Racial Reconciliation.

James L. Baggett is head of the Department of Archives and Manuscripts at the Birmingham Public Library and Archivist for the City of Birmingham. A member of the Jefferson County Historical Commission and past president of the Society of Alabama Archivists, he is editor of the book The Journal of the Birmingham Historical Society: An Anthology Honoring Marvin Yeomans Whiting (Birmingham Public Library and Birmingham Historical Society, 2000). His articles and reviews have appeared in magazines and scholarly journals including Alabama Heritage, The Alabama Review, and Georgia Historical Quarterly. Baggett is currently researching and writing a biography of former Birmingham police commissioner Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor.

An organizer of Before You Travel On, Baggett will chair the May 5th symposium Children of the Movement Remember.

S. Jonathan Bass is an assistant professor of history at Samford University. He has taught history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Tennessee. A member of the board of directors of the Alabama Historical Association, Bass is author of the book Blessed are the Peacemakers: Martin Luther King, Jr., Eight White Religious Leaders, and the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His articles have appeared in the scholarly journals Anglican and Episcopal History, The Alabama Review, and Southern Cultures. Bass is currently writing a book-length manuscript on the racial transformation of Birmingham from 1963 to 1979.

An organizer of Before You Travel On, Bass will present a paper at the February 15th symposium Reflections—How Historians, Writers, and the Media Have Viewed Birmingham, present the April 10th lecture Letter from Birmingham Jail, and present a paper at the April 14th symposium The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of Birmingham Politics.

Albert Brewer is Distinguished Professor of Law and Government at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. Brewer served as governor of Alabama from 1968 to 1971. He had previously served as lieutenant governor and as Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives. Brewer is co-author of Brewer and Cole: Alabama Constitutional Law (Samford University Press, 1998).

Brewer will speak at the April 7th symposium The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of Alabama Politics.

Joseph Carlisle is a student at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Carlisle has worked as a researcher for the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Exhibition at the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, as a research fellow and exhibition curator at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, and as a processing archivist at the Birmingham Public Library where he did work arranging and describing the papers of former Birmingham mayor Richard Arrington, Jr.

Carlisle will present a paper at the April 14th symposium The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of Birmingham Politics.

Chriss H. Doss is director of the Center for Law and the Church at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. One of the nation's leading authorities on law and religion, Doss is a former Jefferson County commissioner (1975 to 1987), serving as president of the commission from 1982 to 1987. He has served as a member of the Alabama Democratic Executive Committee and is the co-author of the book A Guide to Religious Corporations (Samford University, 1987).

Doss will speak at the April 7th symposium The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of Alabama Politics.

Glenn T. Eskew is an associate professor of history at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He is a member of the board of directors of the Society of Georgia Archivists and director of the Georgia History Consortium. Eskew’s articles have appeared in scholarly journals including The Historian, The Journal of Southern History, and The Alabama Review. He is the author of But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle (University of North Carolina Press, 1997), editor of Labor in the Modern South (University of Georgia Press, 2001), and co-editor of Paternalism in a Southern City: Race, Religion and Gender in Augusta, Georgia (University of Georgia Press, 2001).

Eskew will present the February 24th lecture Memorializing the Movement.

Wilson Fallin, Jr. is an associate professor of history at the University of Montevallo. He also serves as president of Birmingham-Easonian Baptist Bible College, visiting professor at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, and pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Birmingham. A former president of Selma University in Selma, Alabama, Fallin has taught history at Miles College and is historian for the National Baptist Convention. He is the author of The African American Church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1815-1963: A Shelter in the Storm (Garland Publishing, 1997). Fallin is currently researching his second book entitled Uplifting the People: Black Baptists in Alabama, 1701-2000.

Fallin will chair the February 15th symposium Reflections—How Historians, Writers, and the Media Have Viewed Birmingham.

Cynthia Griggs Fleming is an associate professor history at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Fleming has written extensively on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and is author of the book Soon We Will Not Cry: The Liberation of Ruby Doris Smith Robinson (Roman and Littlefield, 1998), which received critical claim from both scholars and civil rights activists. She has recently completed a book on the impact of the civil rights movement on Wilcox County, Alabama, and is currently working on a biography of Dr. C. T. Vivian, an associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the SCLC and a former minister in Selma, Alabama.

Fleming will present a paper at the February 15th symposium Reflections—How Historians, Writers, and the Media Have Viewed Birmingham.

Doug Jones is an attorney with the firm Whatley Drake in Birmingham. In 1997 he was appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and headed the prosecution of the last two suspects brought to trial for the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Jones had previously served as a clerk for the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate, as Assistant U. S. Attorney, and as a criminal defense attorney.

Jones will present the March 19th lecture Prosecuting the Sixteenth Street Church Bombing.

Edward S. LaMonte is vice president for administration and Howell Heflin Professor of Political Science at Birmingham-Southern College. Previously director of the Center for Urban Affairs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and executive secretary to Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr., LaMonte is the author of George B. Ward: Birmingham’s Urban Statesman (Birmingham Public Library, 1974) and Politics and Welfare in Birmingham, 1900-1975 (University of Alabama Press, 1995), recipient of the V. O. Key Award of the Southern Political Science Association. He is currently researching the life and career of former Birmingham mayor David Vann.

LaMonte will present a paper at the April 14th symposium The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of Birmingham Politics.

Andrew M. Manis is assistant professor of history at Macon State College in Macon, Georgia. He previously served as editor for Religion and Southern Studies at Mercer University Press and taught in the College of Liberal Arts at Mercer University in Georgia. Manis has also taught at Xavier University in New Orleans and Averett College in Virginia. He is the author of Civil Religions in Conflict: Black and White Baptists and Civil Rights, 1947-1957 (University of Georgia Press, 1987), A Fire You Can’t Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham’s Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth (University of Alabama Press, 1999), recipient of the Lillian Smith book award, and co-editor of Birmingham Revolutionaries: The Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (Mercer University Press, 2000).

Manis will present the March 17th lecture The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham’s Fred Shuttlesworth.

Barbara Shores Martin is assistant director of the Jefferson County Office of Senior Services. The daughter of Birmingham civil rights attorney Arthur Shores, she is active in the Birmingham chapter of Links, Inc. and serves on the advisory board of Oasis, an organization that works with the sightless, and BAC, a Medicare beneficiary advisory board.

Martin will speak at the May 5th symposium Children of the Movement Remember.

Tennant S. McWilliams is dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has also served as a professor and chair of the History Department at UAB. McWilliams is the author of Hannis Taylor: New Southerner as American (University of Alabama Press, 1978) and The New South Faces the World: Foreign Affairs and the Southern Sense of Self (Louisiana State University Press, 1988). His articles have appeared in several scholarly journals including The Alabama Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Gulf Coast Historical Review. McWilliams is currently completing a book on higher education and social change in the Deep South, which will focus on UAB’s role as an agent of change in Birmingham.

McWilliams will speak at the March 3rd film and discussion Who Speaks for Birmingham.

Christopher Metress is associate professor of English at Samford University. He has served as director of the Birmingham Area Consortium for Higher Education Visiting Writers Series and as a consultant for the Peter Taylor Papers at Vanderbilt University. Metress is the editor of two books, The Lynching of Emmett Till: A Documentary Narrative (University of Virginia Press, 2002) and The Critical Response to Dashiell Hammett (Greenwood Press, 1995). He is currently researching and writing “The Topical is Poison”: The White Southern Writer and the Civil Rights Movement and editing The Selected Stories of Peter Taylor to be published by the University of Virginia Press.

Metress will present a paper at the February 15th symposium Reflections—How Historians, Writers, and the Media Have Viewed Birmingham.

Fred L. Shuttlesworth is pastor of the Greater New Light Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Formerly pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Shuttlesworth organized the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in 1956 and served as secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A colleague of Martin Luther King, Jr., Shuttlesworth worked to integrate public schools and other public facilities and helped to organize and lead the 1963 civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham. Long considered an unsung hero of the Civil Rights Movement, in recent years Shuttlesworth has been recognized with a statue in Birmingham, a street named in his honor, awards, and is the subject of a well-received biography.

Shuttlesworth will present the March 20th lecture The Fire Still Burns Strong.

Samuel L. Webb is associate professor of history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition to articles published in The Journal of Southern History, he is the author of Two-Party Politics in the One-Party South: Alabama’s Hill Country, 1874-1920 (University of Alabama Press, 1997) and co-editor of Alabama Governors: A Political History of the State (University of Alabama Press, 2001). Webb is currently researching a book about Alabama politics between the two World Wars.

Webb will chair the April 7th symposium The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of Alabama Politics.

Tara Y. White is program officer for the American Association for State and Local History in Nashville. She has worked as an archivist in the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University and as an intern at the Smithsonian Institution and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. White recently completed her master’s thesis entitled “Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1963: Women of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in Birmingham, Alabama” at the State University of New York College at Oneonta.

White will present the March 12th lecture The Role of Women in the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.

Robert W. Widell is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at Emory University in Atlanta. He has worked at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and taught history at Emory and the University of Montevallo. Widell is currently researching and writing his dissertation on black activism in post civil rights movement Birmingham.

Widell will present the March 26th lecture The Black Power Movement in Birmingham.

Bobby M. Wilson is a professor of geography at the University of Alabama and has taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Wilson is the author of two books, Race and Place in Birmingham: The Civil Rights and Neighborhood Movements (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2000) and America’s Johannesburg: Industrialization and Racial Transformation in Birmingham (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2000), recipients of the Jefferson County Historical Commission’s Thomas Jefferson Award. His articles have appeared in the scholarly journals Southeastern Geographer and the Professional Geographer.

Wilson will chair the April 14th symposium The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of Birmingham Politics.

Abraham Woods is pastor of St. Joseph Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. A colleague of Martin Luther King, Jr., Woods was a leader of Birmingham’s civil rights struggle. He is president of the Birmingham Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and involved in a number of community activities including the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day gun buy-back designed to reduce the number of firearms in the Birmingham community.

Woods will present the February 20th lecture Birmingham Activism.