Civil Rights Short Stories

Here are some short stories that deal with the Civil Rights movement in some way and at various stages of it.

All of the stories below can be found in Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement: An Anthology(The Introduction can be read in the Amazon preview.)

“See What Tomorrow Brings” by James W. Thompson (Abba Alethea)

When Henry gets home, his mother reprimands him for worrying everyone. It was a big day. He was up early that morning. Henry was one of four black students having their first day at Central High. He was picked up by two deputies on account of the mob that would be gathered at the school.

“The First Day of School” by R. V. Cassill

John Hawkins is at the breakfast table, but his sister Audrey hasn’t come down yet. He wonders if she might want to wait until tomorrow to go, in case anything happens. John didn’t get much sleep last night. Audrey comes down. Their mother says the National Guard has been called in. John and Audrey are going to walk to the Baptist church, and go with the group from there.

“The Beginning of Violence” by Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

It’s 1960 in Nashville. A student from Vanderbilt University sits at Woolworth’s lunch counter, eating and reading. At one point, dozens of black people come into the store. A few sit next to her at the counter. She sees about forty more lined up behind. Things have been changing. As she leaves, she hears the waitress saying they don’t serve coloreds. She realizes she witnessed Nashville’s first sit-in.

“The Marchers” by Henry Dumas

A prisoner waits in a dome, shackled and in silence. People march across the land and their leaders make speeches about freedom and equality. As the intensity grows, the prisoner hears it and begins to move.

“Liars Don’t Qualify” by Junius Edwards

Will Harris has come to register to vote. He’s been in the waiting room a long time. Finally, a fat man calls him into the office where there is also a small man. When Will makes his intentions known, the two men feign disbelief. The fat man subjects Will to an infuriating line of questions while making side remarks to the small man.

“Going to Meet the Man” by James Baldwin

Jesse, a white sheriff, lies in bed with his wife. He tries to start something physical, but his body doesn’t respond. He thinks about a black protest leader he had beaten that day, and a childhood memory of going to a lynching.

Read “Going to Meet the Man”

“Where is the Voice Coming From?” by Eudora Welty

The narrator thinks he got the idea when he told his wife she didn’t have to look at or listen to a black man on T.V. He could find out where that man lives. He finds the man’s place but he’s out. The narrator has to wait for him.

Read “Where is the Voice . . .”