A new book examines the organizations and movements in the Black and Latino communities often overlooked by history. "Civil Rights in Black and Brown: Histories of Resistance and Struggle in Texas" is based on an oral history collaboration between Texas universities, and brings together more than 500 voices from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods.
History professors Max Krochmal of Texas Christian University and Todd Moye of the University of North Texas led the project. The pair spoke with Texas Standard. Listen to the interview in the audio player above or read the transcript below
This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.
Texas Standard: How did this oral history project get started, and why did you decide to turn it into a book?
Max Krochmal: When I first arrived at TCU, I looked around and started working with my students to record interviews with activists in the area, and it became apparent that other folks were doing that as well. And so it made sense for us to collaborate with Todd and with a couple of faculty members at University of Texas at Arlington.
The idea was that we needed to help create these sources, that the information was not recorded in the documentary record, that many of these activists were getting up there in age and that if we wanted to be able to tell a true story of the African American and Mexican American liberation struggles in Texas, we needed to go and interview them and get their ideas out of their heads and onto tape and into paper.
And so we threw around the idea of writing a grant so that we could connect these interviews statewide. And on our second try, we got the grant and we were able to hire a whole bunch of graduate students to help us go out and do these interviews all over the state.
Part of the reason this project came about is because of the lack of scholarly research on the civil rights movement in Texas, particularly outside the cities. Can you tell us more about that?
Todd Moye: So many of the newspapers around the state did not cover civil rights protest when it was happening in the 1960s and 1970s, especially, so the documentary record is somewhat lacking. But the knowledge of these struggles exists in communities, and the way to document it is through oral histories. So we really hoped that by creating this big archive that the grant enabled us to create, that we would help start more scholarship on that. And it's been really useful so far for other scholars.
We know of grad students who are using these interviews in their dissertations. We know of journalists who are using it around the state. We know of K-12 teachers who are able to pull in information about local activists for their own teaching. And we, of course, wanted to capitalize on this by having the grad students who had done the interviews around the state and had become experts on these communities to get down on paper what they had learned. And so that was the genesis for the book.