WYPL Book Talk

Wayne Wiegand - The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South

July 4, 2018

Blake McVey talks with Professor Wayne Wiegand about his book, The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism, which he co-wrote with legal scholar (and his wife) Professor Shirley Wiegand

From LSU Press: The Wiegands trace the struggle for equal access to the years before the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, when black activists in the South focused their efforts on equalizing accommodations, rather than on the more daunting—and dangerous—task of undoing segregation. After the ruling, momentum for vigorously pursuing equality grew, and black organizations shifted to more direct challenges to the system, including public library sit-ins and lawsuits against library systems. Although local groups often took direction from larger civil rights organizations, the energy, courage, and determination of younger black community members ensured the eventual desegregation of Jim Crow public libraries. The Wiegands examine the library desegregation movement in several southern cities and states, revealing the ways that individual communities negotiated—mostly peacefully, sometimes violently—the integration of local public libraries.

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