Dark Yesterdays and Bright Tomorrows: The Birmingham Movement in Public Memory

deadline for submissions: 
September 10, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Southern Historical Association
contact email: 

Southern Historical Association Conference November 8-11, 2018 (Birmingham, AL)


Roundtable Call for Proposals Due: September 10, 2017:

“Dark Yesterdays and Bright Tomorrows: The Birmingham Movement in Public Memory”


Birmingham exists in national public memory as a racial heart of darkness, a reputation derived in part from the iconic words and images that emerged from the city’s 1963 civil rights battles: Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Bull Connor’s police dogs and fire hoses, and four young victims of a dynamited church. Within Birmingham, however, civic leaders have worked hard to shape a different narrative. The site of the city’s most infamous moments now forms the center of an extensive memorial complex that includes the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, multiple walking tours, and the public art of Kelly Ingram Park. Here the focus is on foot soldier resistance and the positive impact of social change. This panel will explore how these and other competing narratives about Birmingham get deployed or challenged in multiple geographies of memory.


Organizers plan a roundtable of scholars from different perspectives offering 5-7 minutepresentations. Topics can include representations of the Birmingham Movement in history, literature, film, television, the visual arts, and/or public monuments. Please email 150-word proposals and a brief cv by September 10, 2017 to Julie Buckner Armstrong (jba@usfsp.edu) or Christopher Metress (cpmetres@samford.edu).


The 84th Annual Meeting of the Southern Historical Association will be held at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama on November 8-11, 2018. Presenters must be members of the SHA. According to SHA policy, no one who gave a paper at either of the previous two programs, those at St. Pete Beach or Dallas, is eligible to be part of the program in Birmingham. Those who served as a commentator or chair in Dallas are also ineligible for the Birmingham program.