Samuel G. Freedman in conversation with Joseph Crespino - Into the Bright Sunshine

Samuel G. Freedman in conversation with Joseph Crespino - Into the Bright Sunshine

Wednesday, Oct 04, 2023 7:00 PM

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
441 John Lewis Freedom Parkway, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30307

From one of the country's most distinguished journalists, a revisionist and riveting look at the American politician whom history has judged a loser, yet who played a key part in the greatest social movement of the 20th century.

"Riveting. . . . A superbly written tale of moral and political courage for present-day readers who find themselves in similarly dark times." -The New York Times

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and A Cappella Books welcome author Samuel G. Freedman to discuss his widely-acclaimed book, "Into the Bright Sunshine: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights." The author will appear in conversation with Joseph Crespino, Jimmy Carter Professor of History at Emory University and author of "Atticus Finch: The Biography."

This event is free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the venue. Masks are optional.

About the Book

During one sweltering week in July 1948, the Democratic Party gathered in Philadelphia for its national convention. The most pressing and controversial issue facing the delegates was not whom to nominate for president -the incumbent, Harry Truman, was the presumptive candidate -but whether the Democrats would finally embrace the cause of civil rights and embed it in their official platform. Even under Franklin Roosevelt, the party had dodged the issue in order to keep a bloc of Southern segregationists-the so-called Dixiecrats-in the New Deal coalition.

On the convention's final day, Hubert Humphrey, just 37 and the relatively obscure mayor of the midsized city of Minneapolis, ascended the podium. Defying Truman's own desire to occupy the middle ground, Humphrey urged the delegates to "get out of the shadow of state's rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights." Humphrey's speech put everything on the line, rhetorically and politically, to move the party, and the country, forward.

To the surprise of many, including Humphrey himself, the delegates voted to adopt a meaningful civil-rights plank. With no choice but to run on it, Truman seized the opportunity it offered, desegregating the armed forces and in November upsetting the frontrunner Thomas Dewey, a victory due in part to an unprecedented surge of Black voters.

The outcome of that week in July 1948-which marks its 75th anniversary as this book is published-shapes American politics to this day. And it was in turned shaped by Humphrey. His journey to that pivotal speech runs from a remote, all-white hamlet in South Dakota to the mayoralty of Minneapolis as he tackles its notorious racism and anti-Semitism to his role as a national champion of multiracial democracy. His allies in that struggle include a Black newspaper publisher, a Jewish attorney, and a professor who had fled Nazi Germany. And his adversaries are the white supremacists, Christian Nationalists, and America Firsters of mid-century America - one of whom tries to assassinate him.

Here is a book that celebrates one of the overlooked landmarks of civil rights history, and illuminates the early life and enduring legacy of the man who helped bring it about

About the Author

Samuel G. Freedman is an award-winning professor, columnist, and author of nine acclaimed books.

Freedman was a staff reporter for The New York Times from 1981 through 1987. From 2004 through 2008, he wrote the paper's "On Education" column, winning first prize in the Education Writers Association's annual competition in 2005. From 2006 through 2016, Freedman wrote the "On Religion" column, receiving the Goldziher Prize for Journalists in 2017 for a series of columns about Muslim-Americans that had been published over the preceding six years.

As a professor of journalism at Columbia University, Freedman has been named the nation's outstanding journalism educator by the Society of Professional Journalists and received Columbia's coveted Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

About the Conversation Partner

Joseph Crespino is the Jimmy Carter Professor of History at Emory University. He is an expert in the political and cultural history of the twentieth-century United States, and of the history of the American South since Reconstruction.

His research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Academy of Education.

In 2014, he served as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the University of Tubingen, and he has been named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Organization of American Historians.

Crespino has published three books, has co-edited a collection of essays, and has written for academic journals as well as for popular forums such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, and the Wall Street Journal. His most recent book; "Atticus Finch: The Biography—Harper Lee, Her Father, and the Making of an American Icon"; was published in 2018 by Basic Books.