Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement
No other movement in the twentieth century posed a starker moral challenge to the American intellectual tradition than that of civil rights. And yet the response of prominent writers and thinkers was surprisingly hesitant and ambivalent. William Faulkner spoke out for desegregation but, worried about violence, asked the North to "go slow". Richard Wright and W. E. B. Du Bois, marginalized by their radicalism, had difficulty being heard, while editors sought out the more moderate voices of C. Vann Woodward and Robert Penn Warren. Other, less patient voices did struggle to emerge, as Lillian Smith, Lawrence Dunbar Reddick, Howard Zinn, and James Silver put themselves at personal and political risk to air their views. But it was James Baldwin who threw down a gauntlet to other intellectuals in his brilliant and revolutionary The Fire Next Time.
Here is a fascinating, untold history of our nation's most important moment, one rife with unaccountable bravery and inexplicable timidity -- both often the products of the same divided minds.