*Well. I just spent two hours reading, synthesizing, and writing out a post for these chapters...and my draft imploded just as I clicked "Publish."
I refuse to comb back through the pages, so what follows is simply what my brain wants to remember at this point in time. Additionally, you're in for a large dose of Sassy Michelle. Irritation can do that, unfortunately. Hey, I'm not throwing this computer across the room, though, so I'm calling it a win for self control.
First, I've heard some concerns of people being late to the discussion. Hogwash, my friends. Technology (Even when it eats my dang drafts...which, yes, of course is my fault for not composing in a more sensible tool; I do know better. Sigh.) rocks in that way. We are under absolutely no time constraint. Read or skim when you can, participate in the discussion as you feel like it, and know your thoughts are welcome here.
This section was hard in a different way. McWhorter is no walk in the park, and I am looking up lots of words (that's what nonfiction is about!). The last few chapters were difficult because it was just tons of detailed junk about the political history and setup of the civil rights movement. Snooze. This section was hard because of the painful stories within.
Autherine Lucy was one of the first black students to attend the University of Alabama. I found all that she endured just rather insane, and wish to high heaven we could chat over tea. Her story warrants its own standalone biography, and here it goes...
Autherine wanted to become a librarian (!) and desired to attend the University of Alabama to do so (I have a degree in the same program from the same school). Following the Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision (deeming educational segregation unconstitutional/illegal), she applied to UA and...surprise, surprise...was denied admission. When she challenged this, UA admitted her but then rescinded because Autherine had, at one point-though it is essential to note NOT at her point of application- been an unwed mother. When she fought THIS, UA admitted her but refused to offer her protection...they were basically the pristine pinnacle of southern hospitality. Sweet darlin' bigots.
Enter the KKK.
The Klan stirred up a crowd of an estimated 3,000 students to show up to protest Autherine's appearance for her first class at Bibb Graves Hall (I.took.classes.there!). You guys, I cannot imagine how hurt and scared Autherine must have been, with all of those people shouting at her as she hid in the bathroom, throwing rocks at her, hitting her with eggs as she fled to safety, screaming death threats to her...what courage it took to risk all of that.
Guess what the university's response was, after one of their students was attacked on the basis of her skin being brown. They expelled her.
There was a bunch of junk about Bull Connor I wanted to tell you but now it's gone, so whatever. He was just a rascal.
Another point in these chapters that stood out was that as Fred Shuttlesworth began to speak out more and more about integration and black people receiving equal treatment, he became THE bulls-eye of the Klan's target. His house was bombed, his family attacked, and probably the most gruesome attack in this time period (well, that we know about so far) occurred with intention of sending Shuttlesworth a message. The Klan was seeking to attack him again, but when thwarted they redirected their rage upon a random 34 year old painter's apprentice and war veteran who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Klan kidnapped this young man, castrated him, and poured turpentine directly into his wound before sending him back to tell Shuttlesworth to stop trying to integrate the schools.
I cannot even fathom such unspeakable evil. I was simply horrified at several points in these chapters, just completely shocked. What in the world was wrong with people? Why in the name of all that is right and good could any of them have believed this to be okay? How, seriously, HOW could they sleep at night after cutting off a man's genitals simply because he was black?!
I don't even know. Do you?
Tell us something I forgot in my rewrite.