Once in a great while, an image captures the essence of an era. Three people--one black, two white--sit at a lunch counter while a horde of cigarette smoking hot shots pour catsup, sugar, and other counter condiments on the sitters’ heads and down their backs. The image strikes a chord for all who lived through those turbulent times of a changing America. And for those too young to have endured that period, it evokes an era, not that long ago, when the ordinary act of getting a cup of coffee with a friend of another race could spark a riot.
"Michael O’Brien has written a detailed history and fascinating study of one of the iconic moments of the modern civil rights movement and the powerful effect it had. . . . Readers will enjoy this behind the scenes look at an important event in movement history."Julian Bond Chairman Emeritus NAACP
AbouT the Author
It was while visiting the Martin Luther King Center for Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia in 1991
that M. J. O’Brien conceived the work that has become We Shall Not Be Moved. As part of
its civil rights display, the King Center showed a photograph of the 1963 Jackson, Mississippi
Woolworth’s sit-in—a photograph that has become the image used in history books and
magazine articles to show what a sit-in was like. O’Brien was captivated by the photograph
because at its center was a woman, Joan (Trumpauer)Mulholland, whom he had known for a
number of years.
We Shall Not Be Moved is a labor of love. Primarily created in the late 1990s and finally brought to life through the auspices of the University Press of Mississippi, it is a story of triumph and determination that was captured by the now-iconic Fred Blackwell photograph. Although its publication was delayed (as told in Acknowledgements), timing is everything. The book was supposed to be published in 1999, but for a variety of reasons, it is only reaching a broader public today. And that is as it should be. We are on the cusp of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In (May 28, 1963) and the courageous souls who decided, one-by-one , to sit in at the counter that day are being recognized for their contribution to the overall civil rights struggle.