Mary Stanton, Journey Toward Justice: Juliette Hampton Morgan and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006. Pp. 262. Cloth $29.95.
Robert Walker, Let My People Go! The Miracle of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Lanham, MD: Hamilton Books, 2007. Pp. 358. Paper $47.00.
After more than fifty years, the Montgomery Bus Boycott stands as a pivotal event in recent U.S. history. More than a convergence of the right leaders at the right time, the Montgomery Bus Boycott emphasizes the significance of individual agency as well as collective action in bringing about social change. Thus, the boycott is worthy of examination from various viewpoints and perspectives as the works by Mary Stanton and Robert Walker demonstrate. These two books are excellent examples of the intricacies of the movement, as they reflect the complicated reality of race relations during those turbulent times.
Mary Stanton's biography of Juliette Hampton Morgan, Journey Toward Justice, is a compelling account of a notable civil rights advocate during the Montgomery Bus Boycott--one who worked behind the scenes. Stanton's book offers a glimpse into the life of a member of the southern white elite who was scorned for her political and social beliefs and activities. Although the book's title is somewhat misleading since less than a third of the book documents the actual Montgomery Bus Boycott, it offers a unique insight into the dilemmas facing white liberals in the South who supported the emerging civil rights protests in the 1950s.
Journey Toward Justice begins with the usual biographical portrait with the first four chapters recounting Morgan's upbringing, education, and social interactions. Yet, early into the narrative Stanton alerts us that Morgan was no typical "southern belle." As a descendant of a well-known and respected southern family, Morgan was an unexpected agitator for racial equality. Ignoring the privilege of her racial and social position, Morgan was committed to social justice, a stance that alienated her from her community. Perhaps it was the influence of her politically savvy family that conditioned her at a young age to keep abreast of political issues; or perhaps it was the result of the enlightened social ideals she encountered as a "New Deal Democrat." For her these experiences resulted in increasing doubts about the correctness of white supremacist beliefs and practices.
Stanton chronicles in detail Morgan's rising consciousness of...