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248 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 15 illus., 3 maps

ISBN  978-0-8078-4437-3
Published: April 1994

Along Freedom Road

Hyde County, North Carolina, and the Fate of Black Schools in the South

By David S. Cecelski

Awards & Distinctions

1996 Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America

1995 Critics' Choice Award, American Educational Studies Association

1995 History Book Award, North Carolina Society of Historians

A 1996 Choice Outstanding Academic Book

Walter Hines Page Literary Award

David Cecelski chronicles one of the most sustained and successful protests of the civil rights movement--the 1968-69 school boycott in Hyde County, North Carolina. For an entire year, the county's black citizens refused to send their children to school in protest of a desegregation plan that required closing two historically black schools in their remote coastal community. Parents and students held nonviolent protests daily for five months, marched twice on the state capitol in Raleigh, and drove the Ku Klux Klan out of the county in a massive gunfight.

The threatened closing of Hyde County's black schools collided with a rich and vibrant educational heritage that had helped to sustain the black community since Reconstruction. As other southern school boards routinely closed black schools and displaced their educational leaders, Hyde County blacks began to fear that school desegregation was undermining--rather than enhancing--this legacy. This book, then, is the story of one county's extraordinary struggle for civil rights, but at the same time it explores the fight for civil rights in all of eastern North Carolina and the dismantling of black education throughout the South.

About the Author

David S. Cecelski is the Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor in Documentary and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


"A superb piece of scholarship. . . . Well written and well organized. . . . Must reading for any student wishing to fully understand the legacy of the Brown case."
--Journal of Southern History

"The provocative story of the Brown decision's impact on one Tidewater county draws into question some of integration's cherished precepts. . . . Such original scholarship when 'school choice' is a current issue bears serious contemplation."

"Cecelski makes his case with clarity and fairness, weaving the larger message of his book through the important story of a community of black people who set out to save a piece of their heritage, believing that it was simply too important to lose."

"Cecelski reveals the underside of school desegregation, that southern blacks bore most of its burdens. . . . A well-written analysis of a neglected feature of the civil rights movement in the South."
--North Carolina Historical Review

"Along Freedom Road is a book that should be read by anyone interested in civil rights, schooling, and southern history."
--History of Education Quarterly

"A must read for those interested in the ongoing debate about the long-term implications of school integration and desegregation."

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