We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

In Peace and Freedom

My Journey in Selma

Bernard LaFayette Jr. and Kathryn Lee Johnson. foreword by Congressman John Robert Lewis. afterword by Raymond Arsenault

Publication Year: 2013

Bernard LaFayette Jr. (b. 1940) was a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a leader in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, a Freedom Rider, an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the national coordinator of the Poor People's Campaign. At the young age of twenty-two, he assumed the directorship of the Alabama Voter Registration Project in Selma -- a city that had previously been removed from the organization's list due to the dangers of operating there.

In this electrifying memoir, written with Kathryn Lee Johnson, LaFayette shares the inspiring story of his years in Selma. When he arrived in 1963, Selma was a small, quiet, rural town. By 1965, it had made its mark in history and was nationally recognized as a battleground in the fight for racial equality and the site of one of the most important victories for social change in our nation.

LaFayette was one of the primary organizers of the 1965 Selma voting rights movement and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, and he relates his experiences of these historic initiatives in close detail. Today, as the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is still questioned, citizens, students, and scholars alike will want to look to this book as a guide. Important, compelling, and powerful, In Peace and Freedom presents a necessary perspective on the civil rights movement in the 1960s from one of its greatest leaders.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright , Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. ix-x

In this book, Bernard LaFayette Jr. has written a powerful history of struggle, commitment, and hope. No one, but no one, who lived through the creation and development of the movement for voting rights in Selma is better prepared to tell this story than Bernard LaFayette himself. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xi-xiii

Ever since I was a teenager I have had an interest in civil rights. I participated in the Youth Council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Tampa, Florida, at an early age. In Tampa the president of the NAACP was Rev. Leon Lowry and the field secretary was Mr. Robert Sanders. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xiv-15

read more

Prologue--The Road into Selma, Fall 1962

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-2

Traveling to Selma to visit the town where I would spend the next couple of years, I drove west on Highway 80, winding my way through the peaceful hills of Lowndes County, Alabama. The noon sun of this November day shone across vast stretches of farmland, dotted with giant rolls of hay, freshly harvested. ...

read more

1. Preparing for Selma

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 3-24

Selma, Alabama. What was it about this little southern town that sparked the question from so many people, “Why go to Selma? You can’t bring about any change there.” I wondered about this sentiment as I made plans to spend the next couple of years there as director of the Alabama Voter Registration Campaign ...

read more

2. Shackles of Fear, Handcuffs of Hopelessness

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 25-44

It was a cold January morning in 1963 when I first drove into Selma to start the project, and in less than fifteen minutes a police car was following my automobile, and I was driving only in the black community. I concluded there had to be someone in the neighborhood who tipped off the police that a stranger was in town. ...

read more

3. Preparing to Register to Vote

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 45-68

The voter registration office at the Dallas County Courthouse was open only two days a month, the first and third Thursdays, so this limited the opportunities to attempt to register. When I heard about this ridiculous twice-a-month schedule, I thought, “Well, we’re going to change that!” ...

read more

4. Central Alabama Heats Up

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 69-90

Benny Tucker, a student at Selma University, became actively involved in the Selma campaign. I often let him use my car, fondly called the “movement car.” He was out running office errands one day and had a wreck. He ran smack into the back of a car at a traffic light, unquestionably his fault. ...

read more

5. Mountains and Valleys

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 91-118

During this period in our history of the struggle, overlapping with my time in Selma, there were other movements in effect throughout the country. There was a hopeful atmosphere, a cloud of despair had been pierced, and movement was in the air. Popular artists wrote or performed songs that embraced the themes of the movement, ...

read more

6. The March from Selma to Montgomery

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 119-142

The Voter Registration Campaign in Selma started about the same time as the movement in Marion, Perry County, Alabama. Albert Turner, the SCLC leader, and Dorothy Cotton and James Orange, SCLC staff, were working in Perry County and central Alabama. James was arrested for his work on voting rights, ...

read more

7. Reflections on the Alabama Voter Registration Campaign

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 143-146

The most significant outcome of the Alabama Voter Registration Campaign was the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, which banned racial discrimination and secured equal voting rights for black citizens. This resulted in a dramatic increase in voter registration for African Americans. ...

read more

Epilogue--The Road Out of Selma, March 1965

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 147-148

As I drove out of Selma in 1965, along Highway 80, I pondered what an important stretch of road this was that had led not only to Montgomery but to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I recalled the thousands of hopeful marchers moving along this pavement step by step toward justice. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 149-152

Bernard LaFayette Jr.’s riveting account of his experiences in Selma reminds us that the realization of America’s democratic ideals has rarely involved an easy or uncontested march to victory. During the 1960s, civil rights activists in the Deep South faced powerful adversaries determined to defend the traditions and shibboleths of racial privilege and prejudice by any and all means. ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 153-156

I wish to express deep appreciation for those of you who played a role in making this book a quality documentary that will contribute to the rich history of the civil rights movement and nonviolent struggle that occurred in Selma, Alabama. To the courageous people of Selma, this book was inspired by you and is for you. ...

Appendix A: Example of a Literacy Test for Registering to Vote

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 157-158

Appendix B: Excerpt from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Special Message to the Congress: “The American Promise”

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 159-164

Appendix C: Dr. King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence Related to Selma

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 165-168

Appendix D: Life Dates of Some Persons Referenced in the Book

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 169-170


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 171-176


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 177-180


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 181-186


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 187-196

Image Plates

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 212-235

Other Works in the Series

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 236-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780813144351
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813143866

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century
Series Editor Byline: Steven F. Lawson & Cynthia G. Fleming See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 859389580
MUSE Marc Record: Download for In Peace and Freedom

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • LaFayette, Bernard, Jr.
  • Selma to Montgomery Rights March -- (1965 : -- Selma, Ala.).
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- Alabama -- Selma -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Suffrage -- Alabama -- Selma -- History -- 20th century.
  • Selma (Ala.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • African American civil rights workers -- Biography.
  • United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access