The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation by Gene Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This Pulitzer Prize winning book examins the role that the media had on the modern Civil Rights movement. In the late 40s and into the 50s, little coverage in newsprint was given to the issues of African Americans in the southern United States. The stories of beatings, lynchings, and mistreatment were detailed in segregationist newspapers printed for and sold to southern Black Americans. As key figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X began to gain national attention, media sources picked up the stories. In print and eventually in television and radio, the Civil Rights movement garnered headline news and breaking stories. The role of the media during this time should not be overlooked. Indeed, the media brought these issues to the forefront of the nation's mind and helped in the fight to bring about much needed legistlation, such as the Voting Rights Act.
Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff recount the events of the civil rights struggle from Brown V. BOE to Selma and beyond through the eyes of the journalists, photographers, and newscasters, both black and white. These were the people working what came to be known as the Race Beat. Many put themselves in harm's way to get the stories that needed to be told to the nation and it is these stories that helped give a voice to civil rights issues in America.
"If it hadn't been for the media - the print media and television - the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings, a choir without a song." - John Lewis
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