Prof. Charles McKinney Has New Book Out on Black Freedom Struggle In Memphis

college professor standing outside on a college campus

Dr. Charles McKinney, the Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and an associate professor of history at Rhodes, has co-edited a new book with University of Memphis history chair Dr. Aram Goudsouzian, providing an overview of the black freedom struggle in Memphis. 

In An Unseen Light: Black Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee (University Press of Kentucky, March 29, 2018), scholars examine Memphis’ role in African American history. They investigate episodes such as the 1940 “Reign of Terror” when black Memphians experienced a prolonged campaign of harassment, mass arrests, and violence at the hands of police. They also examine topics including the relationship between the labor and civil rights movements, the fight for economic advancement in black communities, and the impact of music on the city’s culture. 

“One of its greatest strengths is the breadth of the essays, which span a long period from the end of the civil war to the twenty-first century. An Unseen Light is a valuable addition to civil rights scholarship,” according to Cynthia Griggs Fleming, author of Yes We Did?: From King's Dream to Obama's Promise.

At Rhodes, McKinney teaches various courses that focus on the Africana experience. His primary research interests include the Civil Rights Movement and the exploration of local movements. His first book, Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina, explores the slow, deliberate building of a movement in rural North Carolina. In 2014, McKinney helped organize the “From Civil War to Civil Rights” conference at Rhodes. 

An Unseen Light is available through the University Press of Kentucky at