I want to tell every white person to read this book. To read it all the way through and then sit down and think about it. Take notes. Think about it some more. Does this narrative match what you learnt at school? Does it match your experience growing up? Does this USA resemble the USA you have been living in?
At the Dark End of the Street is a hard read. Inside we learn about what happened to Recy Taylor in detail. About all of the work Rosa Parks was doing years before she refused to get up from that bus seat. About the countless cases of brutality and rape of black women by white men. Of the countless cases where white women called rape on innocent black men. Be prepared to be sickened by the institutionalized suffering, and also by the fact that your fellow humans doled this violence out on a daily basis, and still do.
A detailed and acute research on the involvement and importance of women in the civil rights movement, this book is also a deep insight into the horrific and widespread use of sexual violence by white men to keep black women silent and to exert dominance. Sexual violence is often used as a weapon in war, we have seen many examples of this in the past and in the present, but the extent of its use in the US, and how it was constantly disregarded by the authorities, or even used against victims, is abhorrent. But these stories must be told because they should never be erased and forgotten.
In addition to being a huge minefield of information, events, and facts that are not taught in history books, this book is an important reminder of how black women’s voices have been consistently erased through time. Their overwhelming role in the Montgomery bus boycott reduced to a mere footnote, the tireless activism years and years before the civil rights movement took off stuffed away in the vaults of an archive, and the work that they continue to do on a daily basis forgotten. There is so much important information in this book, sometimes it actually feels overwhelming and frustrating at the same time because it really should be common knowledge.
I initially got this one from the library, but I bought a copy for myself as I feel like I only scratched the surface by reading it once and need to be able to refer back to it again and again. Can we add this book to the curriculum please? My kids will be asked to read it as soon as they are old enough to.