Why the Vote Wasn’t Enough for Selma is a dynamic contribution to the history of the African American working class. Karlyn Forner offers a local study of Selma, Alabama, as a window into the convoluted relationship between economics and politics in the racially divided twentieth-century South. In this study, the author examines the significance of African American labor while highlighting how working-class African Americans experienced both empowerment and oppression.

Systematic racial segregation became the springboard for the economic oppression, political exclusion, and social marginalization that defined the African American experience throughout the south in the twentieth century. Selma was no exception. Forner sheds light on the white-supremacist power structure at the core of Southern politics. The author reveals the complex nature of Selma’s race relations by juxtaposing the story of the local police captain running for sheriff and campaigning at a 1958 Ku Klux Klan rally with a discussion of...

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