Daughter of the boycott Carrying on a Montgomery family's civil rights legacy

Karen Gray Houston, 1951-

Book - 2020

In 1950, a Negro man named Hilliard Brooks was shot and killed by a white police officer in a confrontation after he tried to board a Montgomery city bus. Thomas Gray, who had played football with Brooks when they were kids, was outraged by the unjustifiable shooting. Gray protested, eventually staging a major downtown march to register voters, and standing up to police brutality. Five years later he led another protest alongside his brother, Fred D. Gray, the young lawyer who represented Martin... Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Claudette Colvin, a plaintiff in the case that forced Alabama to desegregate its buses. Houston examines how her father's and uncle's selfless actions changed the nation's racial climate and opened doors for her and countless other African Americans. -- adapted from jacket

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 305.8009761/Houston Checked In
Chicago, Illinois : Lawrence Hill Books, an imprint of Chicago Review Press Incorporated [2020]
Physical Description
xiv, 241 pages : illustrations ; 24cm
Main Author
Karen Gray Houston, 1951- (author)
  • Foreword / by Fred D. Gray
  • Introduction
  • Hilliard Brooks
  • Road trip
  • Veterans protest
  • Uncle Teddy: to destroy everything segregated
  • The brothers Gray: the early years
  • Rediscovering Montgomery
  • Lunch with Rosa
  • Who was Rosa, really?
  • The KKK chapter
  • Claudette Colvin, teenage pioneer
  • Boycott: day one
  • Ray Whatley
  • King Parsonage bombing
  • The arrests
  • White allies
  • Radio days
  • The movement wedding
  • MLK and the barber
  • The police chief's daughter
  • The bus manager and his family
  • Ann Carmichael
  • The help
  • World War II
  • Displaced refugees
  • Cleveland
  • Justice delayed
  • The wake
  • Lasting legacy.
Review by Booklist Review

Distinguished broadcast journalist Houston was fours year old when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger as required by segregation laws, yet she firmly situates herself in the "eye of the storm" that was Montgomery, Alabama, where the 382-day bus boycott launched the modern civil rights movement. She explains why as she traces her family's civil rights legacy, particularly through her father, Thomas Gray, and her father's younger brother, Fred. In 1950, Thomas led a protest of police brutality; he went on to march for voter registration and against segregated busing in Montgomery. He then became a lawyer and a federal administrative judge. Fred went to law school up north and returned to Montgomery as the city's second black attorney. He began his legal career by representing Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks all the way to the Supreme Court. Houston draws on interviews with family, friends, and others to portray both known and unsung civil rights heroines and heroes.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Library Journal Review

Broadcast journalist Houston's first book is a memoir of her family's personal involvement in the civil rights movement and a contemporary commentary on how that movement is remembered and understood today. The author's father, Thomas Gray, fought against racial injustice and police brutality in his native Alabama years before the celebrated 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. He was one of the original board members of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which coordinated the effort, and later went on to become an attorney specializing in civil rights, fair housing, and poverty law. Houston's uncle, Fred D. Gray, was an attorney who represented civil rights activists and the plaintiffs in the key case that forced desegregation of Alabama bus lines. Houston uses archival material, letters, and personal interviews to resurrect "missing voices," recounting the hardships and prejudices of those years. These family stories are interspersed with poignant discussions on recent issues of continuing injustice. VERDICT A beautiful celebration of one family's life of service and commitment to racial justice, this important book should be welcomed by both historians and general readers interested in American history, social change, and civil rights issues.--Marie M. Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A reporter recalls her family's part in the landmark 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, boycott that desegregated buses and brought fame to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Journalist Houston was born into a remarkable family at the center of an event that changed U.S. history. She was 4 years old when, to protest segregated seating, black passengers stopped riding city buses in Montgomery, galvanized by Parks' arrest and by a Gandhi-inspired call for nonviolent protest from King, the new pastor of Montgomery's Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The author's father, Thomas Gray, helped organize the 382-day boycott, arranging carpools and taxi rides for the thousands of black residents who normally took buses; before it ended, her uncle, Fred Gray, had become the lead counsel in Browder v. Gayle, the U.S. Supreme Court case that eventually forced Montgomery to desegregate its buses. In her debut memoir, the author warmly recalls her kin and deals matter-of-factly with the appalling Jim Crow--era injustices they faced: Houston was born in a hospital for black patients because "Negroes were either denied admission to white hospitals or accommodated in segregated, subpar units, sometimes in basements or attics." The author also chronicles her interviews with relevant figures such as the daughter-in-law of the targeted bus line's manager and a son of Browder plaintiff Aurelia Browder Coleman, who laments that Parks--though not a litigant in that watershed case--has eclipsed his mother and others ("a lie has become history"). Houston's real coup, however, is a rare at-home interview with Browder plaintiff Claudette Colvin, who refused to give her seat to a white rider months before Parks did and disputes popular accounts of her story: "I wasn't kicking and scratching like they say I was." Arriving at a time when racial injustices regularly lead to tragedy, this modest book is a welcome reminder that profound social changes can also result from the quiet heroism of people with unshakable commitment to nonviolence. A daughter's fond memoir of her father and the pioneering civil rights activists in his circle. (30 b/w photos) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.