Synopses & Reviews
In a supposedly solitary, spontaneous act, Rosa Parks sparked the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, which gave birth to the civil rights movement. Parks is often described as an unassuming woman whose fatigue caused her to defy the Jim Crow laws. The truth of who she was and what really started the boycott is far different, and, until now, unwritten . . .
In this groundbreaking book, Danielle L. McGuire brilliantly reinterprets the history of America’s civil rights movement in terms of the ritualistic rape and sexualized violence that for almost three hundred years had been perpetrated against black women. She looks at the crucial role played by African American women, at people like Rosa Parks, already a seasoned antirape activist more than a decade before the bus boycott, who turned a one-day protest on the buses into a three-decade war against white supremacy that changed the world.
At the Dark End of the Street is a revelation—and certain to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
"McGuire's 'new history' shines fresh light upon the germinal role of black women in the birth and development of the civil rights movement. 'For decades,' she writes, 'the Montgomery bus boycott has been told as a story triggered by Rosa Parks's spontaneous refusal to give up her seat followed by the triumphant leadership of men.' McGuire, assistant professor of history at Wayne State University, goes behind that story to tell of black women's struggles against abuse by white bus drivers and police officers that launched the boycott. She foregrounds black women's experiences of 'verbal, physical, and sexual abuse' as prime movers of the grassroots movement. From the rape of Recy Taylor (1944) to the rape of Joan Little (1975), McGuire restores to memory the courageous black women who dared seek legal remedy, when black women and their families faced particular hazards for doing so. McGuire brings the reader through a dark time via a painful but somehow gratifying passage in this compelling, carefully documented work. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
"Groundbreaking . . . inspiring."
—Bliss Broyard, ELLE
"One one of those rare studies that makes a well-known story seem startlingly new. Anyone who thinks he knows the history of the modern civil rights movement needs to read this terrifying, illuminating book."
—Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age, winner of the National Book Award.
"McGuire restores to memory the courageous black women who dared seek legal remedy, when black women and their families faced particular hazards for doing so. McGuire brings the reader through a dark time via a painful but somehow gratifying passage in this compelling, carefully documented work."
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
"This gripping story changes the history books, giving us a revised Rosa Parks and a new civil rights story. You can’t write a general U.S. history without altering crucial sentences because of McGuire’s work. Masterfully narrated, At the Dark End of the Street presents a deep civil rights movement with women at the center, a narrative as poignant, painful and complicated as our own lives."
—Timothy B. Tyson, author of Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story
"Just when we thought there couldn’t possibly be anything left to uncover about the civil rights movement, Danielle McGuire finds a new facet of that endlessly prismatic struggle at the core of our national identity. By reinterpreting black liberation through the lens of organized resistance to white male sexual aggression against African-American women, McGuire ingeniously upends the white race’s ultimate rationale for its violent subjugation of blacks—imputed black male sexual aggression against white women. It is an original premise, and At the Dark End of the Street delivers on it with scholarly authority and narrative polish."
—Diane McWhorter, author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution
"Following the lead of pioneers like Darlene Clark Hine, Danielle McGuire details the all too ignored tactic of rape of black women in the everyday practice of southern white supremacy. Just as important, she plots resistance against this outrage as an integral facet of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This book is as essential as its history is infuriating."
—Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People