Clinton desegregation book wins history prize

A book about the desegregation of Clinton schools won the 2023 Tennessee History Book Award.

The book is “A Very Tolerant Town: The Explosive Beginnings of School Desegregation.” It was written by Rachel Louise Martin, a historian and writer, according to a press release.

The award was announced by the Tennessee Historical Commission and the Tennessee Historical Society. The prize includes $2,000.

“Set in Clinton, Tennessee, in September 1956, the book describes the first school to attempt court-ordered desegregation in the wake of Brown v. Board (which found that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional ),” the press release said. “The author interviewed more than sixty townspeople, including nearly a dozen of the first students to desegregate Clinton High. Judged by a panel of four historians from the Grand Divisions of Tennessee, two other books were finalists for the award: “Who is James K. Polk? The Presidential Election of 1844′ by Mark Cheathem and ‘The Civil War Letters of Sarah Kennedy’ by Minoa D. Uffelman.”

The awards program received a record number of entries for publication year 2023. “We are excited to partner with the Tennessee Historical Society on this long-standing annual awards program that highlights works that focus on Tennessee history,” said Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission.

“The Tennessee Historical Society is pleased to see this important story told through this comprehensive work,” said Jennifer Core, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Society. “Rachel Martin’s compelling and complex story of the civil rights movement in Tennessee offers a new perspective on desegregation.”

Martin, the winning author, is a historian and writer living in Nashville whose work has appeared in the Atlantic and Oxford American, among other publications, the news release said. She is the author of “Hot, Hot Chicken,” a cultural history of Nashville hot chicken, and “A Most Tolerant Little Town,” the forgotten story of the first school to attempt court-ordered desegregation in the wake of Brown v. Board.

“Martin is particularly interested in the politics of memory and the power of stories to illuminate why injustice continues in America today,” the press release said.

Additional information about the award and nomination forms can be found on the Tennessee Historical Society website. For more information about the Tennessee Historical Commission, visit the website.

More information will be added as it becomes available.

Many news stories on Oak Ridge Today are free, brought to you by Oak Ridge Today with help from our advertisers, contributors and subscribers. This is a free story. Thank you to our advertisers, contributors and subscribers. You can see what we cover here.


Do you appreciate this story or our work in general? If so, consider a monthly subscription to Oak Ridge Today. See our Subscribe page here. Thanks for reading Oak Ridge today!

Alternatively, you can make a donation to support our work here. Thank you for your support!

Copyright 2024 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Leave a Comment