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Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky

by Catherine Fosl and Tracy E. K'Meyer preface by Terry Birdwhistell, Doug Boyd, and James C. Klotter

Availablepaperback$35.00s 978-0-8131-2606-7
Out of Printcloth$40.00s 978-0-8131-2549-7
Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series
344 pages  Pubdate: 08/01/2010  6 x 9 x 1  25 b&w photos

Memories fade, witnesses pass away, and the stories of how social change took place are often lost. Many of those stories, however, have been preserved thanks to the dozens of civil rights activists across Kentucky who shared their memories in the wide-ranging oral history project from which this volume arose. Through their collective memories and the efforts of a new generation of historians, the stories behind the marches, vigils, court cases, and other struggles to overcome racial discrimination are finally being brought to light.

In Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky, Catherine Fosl and Tracy E. K’Meyer gather the voices of more than one hundred courageous crusaders for civil rights, many of whom have never before spoken publicly about their experiences. Their stories vividly describe pivotal moments such as the 1964 March on Frankfort, led by Martin Luther King Jr., while unearthing less familiar episodes that challenge official narratives of the movement. In vivid detail, Freedom on the Border brings this mosaic of experiences to life and presents a new, compelling picture of a vital and little-understood era in the history of Kentucky and the nation.

Catherine Fosl, associate professor of women’s/gender studies and director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research at the University of Louisville, is the author of Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South.
Tracy E. K’Meyer, associate professor of U.S. history at the University of Louisville, is the author of Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 19451980.

"There is much work that needs to be done when it comes to writing the history of Kentucky. Fortunately, a number of steps have been taken to correct this, and oral history projects are a key component in filling in the gaps. “Freedom on the Border” is one example of how these interviews can be used to further explore the role of Kentuckians within the context of major events within the history of the country. They are much needed, and hopefully this will be the first of many such efforts."--David A Serafini,Bowling Green Daily News

"The book, which shares the activists’ own recollection of the struggles to dismantle legal segregation in Kentucky, is the first published study of the civil rights movement in Kentucky."--Lexington Herald-Leader

"These stories remind us that a social justice movement does not end when laws are passed or crowds dwindle, but continues as long as people experience inequality and act against it."--Linda Elisabeth Beattie, Courier-Journal

"This is an excellent way to get at what occurred...has the value of interviewing the people who actually experienced the events and who may not have a personal or political ax to grind."--Multicultural Review

"Freedom on the Border is well organized . . . linking the personal and political, as well as the past and the present."--Indiana Magazine of History

"This well researched and cogently written volume introduces a unique perspective of the African American freedom struggle that has received only scant attention from most scholars."--Northern Kentucky Heritage

"Freedom on the Border serves as a valuable introduction to the considerable oral history resources on the movement available in Kentucky."--LeeAnn G. Reynolds, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

". . . The book provides compelling insight into race relations and the civil rights movement in the state."--Journal of Southern History

"Fosl and K'Meyer's oral history collection illuminates an amazing variety of individual and collective tactics and strategies that Kentuckians used to fight for equality."--Wesley Hogan, Virginia State University

"This work certainly brings us closer to understanding two seemingly paradoxical truths of the modern black freedom struggle: regional variations matter, and the Civil Rights movement unfolded differently within the South, across the Midwest, and in the North." -- Southern Quarterly

"Put[s] faces on the participants in the struggle for freedom from oppression and document[s] collaboration as well as contention between blacks and whites, the powerful and the powerless."--Appalachian Journal

“This is a useful collection that provides further evidence to support the reinterpretation of the black freedom struggle and its leadership that has been underway in recent years.” --Journal of African American History