Howell Raines

Howell Raines

Howell Raines is the author of My Soul Is Rested, an oral history of the civil rights movement, and is former executive editor of The New York Times.  For Mr. Raines’ full article, please see ‘Southern magazine, Winter/Spring 2013 edition, looking back 50 years “to a time when Birmingham-Southern found itself involved in Birmingham’s great movement for civil rights.” His story Grady’s Gift describes a lesson learned while growing up in segregated Birmingham.

Why was Marti so alone?

Why was Marti so alone?  Why did I and approximately 1,000 other students fail to join the righteous social revolution that swept Birmingham and America in May of 1963?  Speaking for myself, the reason was cowardice.  I was among scores, indeed, hundreds of students who thought George Wallace was a buffoon and the violent attacks on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his demonstrators were both unchristian and unconstitutional.  More than any decision of my college years, I regret my obedient decision to keep my mouth shut and to stay on campus, as ordered.  But I know that I cannot blame my failure on the college administrators who threatened us with expulsion.  Most students realized instantly that the college was copping out on its classroom ideals, but it was entirely our own fault that we did not defy our deans in the cause of justice.

Why was I so fearful?   (more…)