Civil Rights in America

The Dockum Drug Store sit-in in Wichita was one of the first organized lunch counter sit-ins to protest segregation. It has an important place in the history of civil rights in the United States. Visit the People, Pride, and Promise: The Story of the Dockum Sit-In exhibit at our Main Library and then learn more about civil rights in America with these books. 

Dissent in Wichita: The Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, 1954-72 by Gretchen Cassel Eick
On a hot summer evening in 1958, a group of African American students in Wichita, Kansas, quietly entered Dockum’s Drug Store and sat down at the whites-only lunch counter. This was the beginning of the first sustained, successful student sit-in of the modern civil rights movement, instigated in violation of the national NAACP’s instructions.

Voices of freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s by Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer with Sarah Flynn
The authors draw on nearly 1,000 interviews with civil rights activists, politicians, reporters, Justice Department officials, and hundreds of ordinary people who took part in the struggle, to weave a fascinating narrative of the civil rights movement as told by the people who lived it.

Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement by Janet Dewart Bell
Through wide-ranging conversations with nine women, several now in their nineties with decades of untold stories, we hear what ignited and fueled their activism, as Bell vividly captures their inspiring voices. Lighting the Fires of Freedom offers these deeply personal and intimate accounts of extraordinary struggles for justice that resulted in profound social change, stories that remain important and relevant today.

Struggles before Brown: Early Civil Rights Protests and Their Significance Today by Jean Van Delinder
There were many little-known challenges to racial segregation before the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The author’s oral history interviews highlight civil rights protests seldom considered significant, but that help us understand the beginnings of the civil rights struggle before it became a mass movement.

Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear by  Aram Goudsouzian
The engrossing story of a march that became the key turning point in the history of the civil rights movement. Tracking rural demonstrators’ courage and impassioned debates among movement leaders, Goudsouzian reveals the complex legacy of an event that would both integrate African Americans into the political system and inspire an era of bolder protests against it.

While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George
On September 15, 1963, a bomb went off in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Fourteen-year-old Carolyn Maull was just a few feet away when the bomb exploded, killing four of her friends in the girl’s rest room she had just exited. It was one of the seminal moments in the Civil Rights movement, a sad day in American history … and the turning point in a young girl’s life.

Freedom’s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970 by Lynne Olson
Stokely Carmichael, Andrew Young, John Lewis, and other well-known leaders of the civil rights movement have admitted that women often had the ideas for which men took credit. In this groundbreaking book, credit finally goes where credit is due — to the bold women who were crucial to the movement’s success and who refused to give up the fight.

The Civil Rights Movement: An Eyewitness History by Sanford Wexler
Uses speeches, articles, and other writings of those involved to trace the history of the civil rights movement in the United States, primarily from 1954 to 1965.


A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis
Award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light. We see Rosa Parks not simply as a bus lady but a lifelong criminal justice activist and radical; Martin Luther King, Jr. as not only challenging Southern sheriffs but Northern liberals, too; and Coretta Scott King not only as a “helpmate” but a lifelong economic justice and peace activist who pushed her husband’s activism in these directions.