Jackson, 1964: And Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America (Hardcover)

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In this collection of 15 pieces originally published in The New Yorker, Calvin Trillin, probably best known for his humorous articles and writing about food, begins the activities of the Council of Federated Organizations, or COFO, in Mississippi during Freedom Summer, 1964, and ends with the 1995 opening of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission files. In between, there is reportage on racism, big and small, in other parts of the South, as well as in Massachusetts, Long Island (the most segregated suburban area in America), Utah, and other places in America. This remarkable book might never have appeared had Robert Coles not suggested the idea to the author. These essays amount to as good or as useful as, and certainly more entertaining than, any single book on the Civil Rights Movement because its subject of racism seems to find a more timeless and universal quality than it does in most others.

— From 2016 releases


From bestselling author and beloved New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, a deeply resonant, career-spanning collection of articles on race and racism, from the 1960s to the present

In the early sixties, Calvin Trillin got his start as a journalist covering the Civil Rights Movement in the South. Over the next five decades of reporting, he often returned to scenes of racial tension. Now, for the first time, the best of Trillin's pieces on race in America have been collected in one volume.

In the title essay of Jackson, 1964, we experience Trillin's riveting coverage of the pathbreaking voter registration drive known as the Mississippi Summer Project--coverage that includes an unforgettable airplane conversation between Martin Luther King, Jr., and a young white man sitting across the aisle. ("I'd like to be loved by everyone," King tells him, "but we can't always wait for love.")

In the years that follow, Trillin rides along with the National Guard units assigned to patrol black neighborhoods in Wilmington, Delaware; reports on the case of a black homeowner accused of manslaughter in the death of a white teenager in an overwhelmingly white Long Island suburb; and chronicles the remarkable fortunes of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, a black carnival krewe in New Orleans whose members parade on Mardi Gras in blackface.

He takes on issues that are as relevant today as they were when he wrote about them. Excessive sentencing is examined in a 1970 piece about a black militant in Houston serving thirty years in prison for giving away one marijuana cigarette. The role of race in the use of deadly force by police is highlighted in a 1975 article about an African American shot by a white policeman in Seattle.

Uniting all these pieces are Trillin's unflinching eye and graceful prose. Jackson, 1964 is an indispensable account of a half-century of race and racism in America, through the lens of a master journalist and writer who was there to bear witness.

Praise for Jackson, 1964

"Trillin's elegant storytelling and keen observations sometimes churned my wrath about the glacial pace of progress. That's because to me and millions of African-Americans, the topics of race and poverty--and their adverse impact on the mind and spirit--are, as Trillin acknowledges, not theoretical; they're personal."--Dorothy Butler Gilliam, The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)

"These pieces . . . will continue to be read for the pleasure they deliver as well as for the pain they describe."--The New York Times

"With the diligent clarity, humane wit, polished prose and attention to pertinent detail that exemplify Trillin's journalism at its best . . . Jackson, 1964 drives home a sobering realization: Even with signs of progress, racism in America is news that stays news."--USA Today

"These unsettling tales, elegantly written and wonderfully reported, are like black-and-white snapshots from the national photo album. They depict a society in flux but also stubbornly unmoved through the decades when it comes to many aspects of race relations. . . . The grace Trillin brings to his job makes his stories all the more poignant."--The Christian Science Monitor

"An exceptional collection from] master essayist Trillin."--Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Calvin Trillin has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1963, when the magazine published "An Education in Georgia," his account of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. He is the author of thirty books. His nonfiction includes About Alice, Remembering Denny, and Killings. His humor writing includes books of political verse, comic novels, books on eating, and the collection Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780399588242
ISBN-10: 0399588248
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: June 28th, 2016
Pages: 304
Language: English