TUESDAY

In 1963, “the Year of Birmingham,” Diane McWhorter was about as old as the four young girls who arrived early for choir practice on Sept. 15 at the city’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The bombing of the church and the loss of four innocent lives that morning, coupled with the huge nonviolent demonstrations staged by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in that industrial Southern city that spring, made Birmingham the epicenter of the civil rights movement. “But I was growing up on the wrong side of the revolution,” McWhorter recalls in her book Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama—The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. “I knew nothing of what was happening downtown, even though my father, the renegade son of a prominent white Birmingham family, was taking an increasingly active role in opposing Martin Luther King’s movement.” McWhorter traces the movement from the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956 through the sit-ins of 1960 and the Freedom Rides of 1961 to the pivotal Year of Birmingham. By weaving together personal memories along with a decade of research in FBI and police files and hundreds of interviews—including a few dozen with members of Birmingham’s active Ku Klux Klan chapter—McWhorter makes both sides of the struggle feel three-dimensional and very much alive. Hear the author reminisce and sign her Southern Book Critics Circle Award-winning book at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Elissa Silverman)