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Editor Emory O. Jackson, the Birmingham World, and the Fight for Civil Rights in Alabama, 1940-1975


Kimberley Mangun

This cultural biography tells the story of Birmingham World editor Emory O. Jackson. During his 35-year career in Alabama, he waged numerous sustained civil-rights campaigns for the franchise, equal educational opportunities, and justice for the victims of police brutality and bombings. The semiweekly newspaper was central to his advocacy. Jackson wrote editorials and columns that documented injustices and urged legislative and legal action in an effort to secure civil rights for Black Alabamians. His body of work, grounded in protest and passion, was part of the long tradition of the Black Press as an instrument to agitate for social and political change. Jackson also was a frequent speaker at NAACP branches, colleges, and churches. He was known as a commanding, even fiery, speaker who stressed first-class citizenship. Issues explored in the book demonstrate an assertion of constitutional rights in post-World War II America and a remarkable resilience. Editor Emory O. Jackson, the Birmingham World, and the Fight for Civil Rights in Alabama, 1940-1975 is the first scholarly analysis of his work and as such contributes to scholarship on the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama and the nation.

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I am indebted to a number of individuals and organizations for their support of my research.

In particular, I would like to thank Hank Klibanoff, coauthor of The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation, which received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History. I had the good fortune to meet Hank in 2009 when he cotaught a class with me at the University of Utah. His comment that the enigmatic Jackson merited further investigation was the inspiration for this book. I appreciate Hank’s generosity, wisdom, good humor, and commitment to the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project.

I also was fortunate to spend time in Detroit and Birmingham with Lovell Jackson and William Jackson, Emory’s youngest brother and nephew, respectively. I regret that I was unable to finish the book before Lovell died, but I think fondly of him and meals and conversations the three of us shared.

Other individuals who deserve hearty thanks include: Laura Anderson, formerly the archivist at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, whose knowledge of Jackson and civil rights helped me launch my research; Jim Baggett, archivist with the Birmingham Public Library Department of Archives and Manuscripts, who shared stories from his forthcoming biography of Bull Connor and offered his home for a few days when he and his family ← xxv | xxvi → were on vacation; the excellent staff of BPL’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts; Nathaniel Bagley Jr., formerly with the...

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