Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Foreword

David J. Garrow

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pp. xi-xxii

Sara Mitchell Parsons's wonderful autobiographical memoir tells at least two notably important stories. First, it describes how she, following her 1961 election to the Atlanta Board of Education, became one of the South's first white elected officials who openly advocated racial equality at a time when almost every other white public...

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Introduction

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pp. xxiii-xxviii

first met Martin Luther King, Jr., on a spring day in April 1963. When I arrived at his church office on Auburn Avenue, the street was quiet. Only a few cars were in sight. I parked in front and entered through the big, heavy wooden double doors, which stood open. I walked up the few steps in the vestibule...

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1. Growing Up Southern

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pp. 1-13

I was born Sara Bedell Perry in my grandmother's house on April 18, 1912, just three days after the Titanic went down. It was quite common at the time for a woman to "go home" to have her children, so my mother traveled a little farther east to Canton, Georgia, where my grandmother lived, and returned to my father...

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2. From Buckhead to Brotherhood

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pp. 14-36

I remember one night in 1943 going through my usual bedtime routine of reading and finding some popular music on the radio when by chance I heard an announcer intone, "This is the 'Town Hall of the Air,' a program of discussion and debate on the most important issues of the day." I continued searching...

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3. Running Scared for Public Office

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pp. 37-52

When I decided to run for office I had no real idea of what I was getting into, so I had to learn fast. I got plenty of advice from friends who had been candidates. I was overwhelmed by the task as they described it. The best advice I got was to take one day at a time. I was particularly lucky to have...

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4. Crisis in the Bible Belt

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pp. 53-72

Although the primary election and runoff were held in September, the new Atlanta officeholders were not sworn in until January 3, 1962. As I prepared to assume my new responsibilities, I had a chance to take stock at midlife. Ray and I were empty nesters now, but we stayed in our house on...

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5. "Men Don't Like Women on Boards"

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pp. 73-90

My first four-year term on the Atlanta Board of Education began January 3, 1962. It was the first and only job "outside the home," as they say, that I held during my thirty years of marriage, and it was considered a part-time position. This was a sort of elected citizens' advisory board whose role was to oversee what...

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6. Sunday Morning at Ebenezer

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pp. 91-99

In April 1963 I wrote a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. Dear Dr. King, As a member of the Atlanta Board of Education I have just this year finished visiting all of our schools-126 elementary and 28 high schools. Having grown up in Atlanta, this was an eyeopening experience. Our public schools are "separate" for sure but ...

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7. Not the Best of Times

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pp. 100-117

The year 1964 was unsettling. President Kennedy had been assassinated in late November of 1963. As 1964 began, people were still in shock. During his first State of the Union address, President Johnson unveiled his ambitious "War on Poverty" and called for passage of a sweeping, tough civil rights bill. In Atlanta, police arrested...

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8. From Southern Wrongs to Civil Rights

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pp. 118-128

If there were voters in Atlanta who disagreed with me, there were of course also many elected leaders in the South of the 1960s with whom I, as a voter, scarcely agreed. George Wallace in his inaugural speech as governor of Alabama in 1962 said, "In the name of the greatest people that ever trod...

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9. The Second Time Around

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pp. 129-140

My second term on the Board of Education officially began in January 1966. I was now an "insider," but I would have felt just as alone as I had during my first term if it hadn't been for Horace Tate, a new member. Dr. Tate had been elected to fill the seat of Dr. Clement, recently deceased. Like Rufus Clement, Horace Tate was...

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10. Long Journey to a New Life

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pp. 141-163

For me, the years from roughly 1954 through 1965 were a challenging and invigorating time with only a few major exceptions. The civil rights movement came to define my life in ways that I never would have dreamed possible. If I had not joined in the struggle to help blacks get what they should have had all...

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11. The Dove Flies On

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pp. 164-173

Moving to California and living there happily, of course, did not mean that I abandoned my southern heritage. In fact, before I married Tom, I had gotten him to agree to a long-range plan: we would live for twenty years in California, until his retirement, and then we would move back to Atlanta. In the meantime...

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12. What Has Happened to the Dream?

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pp. 174-180

If Martin Luther King, Jr., were alive today, I wonder, as have millions of others, how he would feel about the dream he had in 1963? How pleased or how discouraged would he be? I think he would feel that the nonviolent struggle for freedom was more than justified-in fact, that on many fronts the battle...

Index

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pp. 181-184