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At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  2,979 ratings  ·  312 reviews
Groundbreaking, controversial, and courageous, here is the story of Rosa Parks and Recy Taylor—a story that reinterprets the history of America's civil rights movement in terms of the sexual violence committed against black women by white men.

Rosa Parks was often described as a sweet and reticent elderly woman whose tired feet caused her to defy segregation on Montgomery’
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Start your review of At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race-slavery
Imagine being a woman. A woman with 23 children. Now imagine that 20 of those children are the result of being raped. Imagine that your daughter is so fearful of being attacked, too, that she routinely carries a pistol with her when she works outside. Imagine further that her daughter, your granddaughter, is arrested, beaten bloody and naked by law enforcement for peaceably protesting that culture of violence. Such has been the life of the Southern black women, and this book does a remarkable jo ...more
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a very important book. It is also an extremely depressing and upsetting book, but they go hand in hand, right? In reexamining the civil rights movement through the lens of sexual abuse of black women by white men in the South, McGuire challenges the prevailing wisdom of a number of commonly accepted historical narratives: the growth of the CRM at large and especially Rosa Parks's role, the gendered violence of the white backlash, and the courageous resistance of black women in the Jim Cr ...more
Apr 13, 2011 is currently reading it
The subtitle should be noted: "Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power"

I'm only about 20 pages in, but so far the stories being told are devastating and, frankly, rage inducing. It's interesting seeing a focus on women in teh civil rights movement, and also cool learning the real back story of Rosa Parks. She wasn't just some woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus because she was tired, as they teach you i
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adults Interested in the Civil Rights Movement or History
Recommended to Katrina by: 2010 Literacy Award Committee
Shelves: adult, non-fiction
Did you know that in her early forties when she refused to give up her seat? Did you know that she was the local NAACP best investigator? Did you know that she was the driving force behind numerous sexual abuse cases throughout the south BEFORE the 1955 bus boycotts even began? In taking on these cases, Parks launched a movement that ultimately changed the world.

In this book, McGuire challenges the prevailing wisdom of a number of commonly accepted historical narratives: especially Rosa Parks's
Margaret Sankey
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
The image of Rosa Parks as a sweet, quietly heroic elderly seamstress does her a great disservice. In the 1940s, she was the NAACP's best investigator in cases of African-American women raped by white men as part of their campaign of terror, as crucial to controlling the local population as cross burning and arson. This woman was not a patient saint but a vital hellraiser whose work was subsumed in the larger political decision to highlight civil rights crimes against men. ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly important book that I definitely recommend reading, even though it can be hard to read so many descriptions of white men raping black women in brutal and awful ways and facing minimal to no consequences. Danielle McGuire (who I knew when she was a student of my dad's at UW) tells an incredibly powerful story of the ways black women's resistance to rape and sexual assault laid the foundation for the civil rights movement, which we so often frame as a movement led by men. I b ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic-history
This book must come with a trigger warning as it includes descriptions of sexual violence. But the stories were incredibly compelling to my students who all said it was the most impactful book they read this year. The arc of the story goes from an terrible gang rape in the 1940s where the perpetrators were let go to the 1970s when a woman in jail killed the guard who was assaulting her and was acquitted (she had been on trial for the death penalty).
The book sets black women at the center of the
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This is the best book I've read all year.

The civil rights movement is often told with a few main characters, these characters are always men and even their stories have been whitewashed to fit a narrative that seeks to erase a history that still cuts deep into the current American psyche. In this book McGuire highlights, magnificently, the abuse, violence and humiliation that black women had to suffer at the hands of white men in the southern states of America but also details how it was these
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As much non-fiction as I read, it takes a lot to shock me. This did. I can no longer take someone who considers themselves a buff of Civil Rights and Women's Movements seriously if they've not factored this in. It ends somewhat short of the rise of the Black Power movement and the epilogue is sad. Worth it for the truth it unearths and illuminates. Rosa Parks is much celebrated, yet some of her most amazing work is unsung. ...more
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In her book, At the Dark End of the Street; Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power, Danielle L. McGuire re-tells the history of the Civil Rights Movement with a focus on the role of gender. Realizing the popularity of the male-centered canonical versions of African-American’s struggles which mainly focus on the struggle between black and white men (as in males), McGuire highlights the role of rape and sexual violenc ...more
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant and distressing book, and a needed one - a must-read for anyone interested in human rights, women's history, race, and justice. One knows going in that there's likely little of the latter to be found, but story after story still evokes anger and shock.

McGuire does a wonderful job of fleshing out the stories of well-known but misrepresented activists like Rosa Parks, often remembered as the weary woman too tired to give up her seat on a bus - an almost accidental symbol - rather than
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This the most important book on Civil rights history I have read in a long time. Danielle McGuire presents a revised history of the CR movement, placing African American women at the center of the story. Rosa Parks i re-presented as a courageous activist, who 10 years before the Montgomery (AL) bus boycott for which she became famous was doing investigative work for the NAACP of the brutal rape of Recy Taylor by four white men. McGuire's re-telling highlights the consistent sexual assault and ra ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, non-fic
[Trigger warning: Rape, misogynoir] This book is a fascinating, necessary history of the role activism for & by Black women played in the civil rights movement - and how it’s missing from the narrative. It took me several weeks to read & I learned so much.

The book starts with Black women like Rosa Parks fighting for justice for Recy Taylor, a Black woman who was raped by white men in the 40s. McGuire outlines how the activism surrounding the case laid the groundwork for later success for the Mon
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really fascinating history of the Civil Rights movement to read right now during the #metoo movement. It places black women's fight against sexual abuse at the heart of the Civil Rights struggle and it makes a very convincing case that this fight was the very heart of the movement. I loved reading about the radical leadership of Rosa Parks before she was transformed in the name of respectability politics and how by the end of the decade, even rape of a prisoner was taken seriously. An important ...more
Like any book that includes the word "rape" in the title, this book is an ordeal to read. But it's well worth it. It's a side of the Civil Rights Movement that doesn't get much attention. Only within the past few years did I realize that rape was a huge part of slavery (it seems blatantly obvious now). Before I started reading this book, I had no idea that white men gang raping black women had a large role in Jim Crow. ...more
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A history of the civil rights movement from 1940-1975 that centers African American women, their activism, and the sexual violence levied against them by whites. It emphasizes the ways in which sexism and sexual violence were integral to the success, power, and maintenance of white supremacy, and how the fight against this sexual terror built the foundation of the modern civil rights movement. McGuire argues, in part, that the Montgomery bus boycott wasn't the start of the modern civil rights mo ...more
Craig Werner
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the two or three most important books about the Civil Rights Movement. Reconsidering the (overly and deceptively) familiar story, At the Dark End of the Street places the experience of African American community at the center of the narrative to show that sexual violence against black women was as important as the battles for equal rights and desegregation which have received the lion's share of attention from historians. McGuire, who writes beautifully, redefines our understanding of maj ...more
Morgan Dhu
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Danielle L. McGuire’s book At The Dark End of the Street, subtitled Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power, looks at the role of black women’s resistance to sexual violence at the hands of white men in the history of the civil rights movement. As she notes in her Introduction:

“And yet analyses of rape and sexualized violence play little or no role in most histories of the civil rights movement, which present it as a
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Enjoyed the content and the history, but wish that it had been done by a better writer, or even by the same writing, but after she outlined the book before writing. It was incredibly well-researched, SO much detailed information, but it read like the author took all the facts and research she did, threw them in a bag, and just grabbed at random to stick in the book. The stories did not follow a chronology or a theme (other than fighting racism, of course), so there was no driving element. Rosa P ...more
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: black-white
If you're going to read one book by a white woman about black women, this should be the one (rather than, you know, that other one*, which is not only fiction, it's complete fiction).

At the Dark End of the Street is one of the most enlightening books I've read on race and gender. I learned from this book that it's not possible to have a meaningful conversation about race without talking about gender, although many have been trying to do just that for a long time. As I read, I kept feeling a sens
Essential reading. Should be required in all high schools. Intensely, compulsively readable from start to finish. Dedicated to the brave, formidable and powerfully vulnerable black women who shared (and continue to share) their stories of near-constant sexual abuse and white supremacist violence, and whose legacies should be more widely known, venerated and studied. It is a disservice to truth and justice that their histories are not universally acknowledged.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
During this US election year, one of the things I reflect on is the various ways the system which includes educational, political, social and media, keeps most topics in a small tight framework. This results in many Americans having shallow knowledge about American history and world geography.

One of the ways this is evident is how Martin Luther King Jr is remembered and celebrated. I would wager that on the MLK holiday, most TV news programs use a clip from "I Have A Dream." This keeps King in
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
must read
C Lynn
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Riveting, in-depth look into the less told stories of the Civil Rights Movement, centering on African American women's fight for bodily integrity and justice. McGuire redirects 0ur vision of history by highlighting the voices and agency of Black women. She provides backstory on Rosa Parks, tells a woman-centric story of the Montgomery bus boycott, discusses Recy Taylor and many African American women raped by white men without seeing justice, and describes in detail the cases -such as that of Ro ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The most salient part of this book is the perspective. The look at the beginnings of the civil rights movement from the eyes of Black women, who are often pushed to the margins in historical works, was a welcome addition to the civil rights historical canon. Because Ms. McGuire centered her book in this way, the reader will learn the names of women here, that contributed mightily to the struggle for not only civil rights but human dignity. For those who have read little history, you will find in ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, non-fiction
One of the books I'm most glad to have found this year. This book was extremely difficult to read in parts; it needs a strong trigger warning for graphic discussion of rape and the way it was an explicit tool of the anti-rights white South in the 1960s and 1970s. It deserves five stars and more for that discussion, and for the way it uncovers and retells this story, and for the way it reclaims Rosa Parks' activist history from the specter of the mild, tired lady with sore feet whom we're told ab ...more
Jade C. Jamison
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a well-written book--quite enlightening. A friend of mine lent it to me because we were discussing race issues. Being white, I am an ally and a supporter of people of color, and I empathize and advocate for their causes, but I cannot ever truly understand what black people (especially women) have gone through or continue to go through, because I haven't been part of a marginalized group. This book opened my eyes to much of what happened in the twentieth century. The Civil Rights movement di ...more
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very informative. It makes me remember that history is usually decided and remembered from the point of view of its authors, not necessarily based in fact. It was wonderful to get some factual and historical confirmantion on the important and leading role black woman played before and during the civil rights movement and how black woman lead the activism against sexual assault decades before white women. I think this a must read for everyone, but especially black women interested a historical pe ...more
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love how Danielle McGuire has put women's struggle against sexual violence and rape front and center of the freedom struggle. Where it always was, though never enough acknowledged. She says it more eloquently than I could:
The real story--that the civil rights movement is also rooted in African-American women's long struggle against sexual violence--has never before been written. The stories of black women who fought for bodily integrity and personal dignity hold profound truths about the sexua
Angela Gyurko
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In 1943, a young Alabama woman became a secretary at her local NAACP office. Her job? To interview women who were sexually assaulted by white men and record their stories. Her name was Rosa Parks. This book is the story of the thousands of young black women who pushed the Civil Rights Movement. When Recy Taylor of Abbeville, AL, was raped by 6 men, 4 of whom confessed, Rosa Parks did the initial investigation.

So when Rosa Parks sat in the 5th row of that bus in 1955, she was 12 years into the s
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Danielle McGuire is an award-winning author and historian interested in the African American freedom struggle and the legacies of racial and sexual violence. She lives with her husband and two children in metro Detroit. Her next book, Murder in the Motor City: The 1967 Detroit Riot and American Injustice, is forthcoming from Knopf.

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“Often ignored by civil rights historians, a number of campaigns led to trials and even convictions throughout the South. These cases, many virtually unknown, broke with Southern tradition and fractured the philosophical and political foundations of white supremacy by challenging the relationship between sexual domination and racial equality.” 4 likes
“is senseless to fight fascism abroad if fascistic influences are to be protected here at home.” 3 likes
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