“The Stirring of the Water”

Troy Jackson

in Becoming King

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780813125206
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135045 | DOI:
“The Stirring of the Water”

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This chapter examines the story of Montgomery from 1948 to 1953, before King arrived in the Alabama capital, and depicts those years where several black and white men and women were challenging segregation and white supremacy in their city. It notes that the economy and social structure of Montgomery depended upon the affordable service labor of the region's African American men and women. Baptist minister Ralph Abernathy estimated that service-oriented occupations accounted for 75–80 percent of the African American workforce and approximately two-thirds of the black women in the area found employment as domestic workers. The chapter observes that the lack of alternative industrial jobs significantly limited their earning potential and that, given the insidious nature of Montgomery's racism and segregation, white supremacy appeared to be firmly in place. However, further examination reveals the presence of subtle changes in racial mores.

Keywords: Montgomery; King; Alabama; white supremacy; African American; Ralph Abernathy; segregation; racial mores

Chapter.  10218 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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