In 1989, Alston Fitts III published a brief history of Selma, Alabama, from its founding through the aftermath of the civil rights movement. Selma: A Bicentennial History is a greatly revised and expanded version of Fitts’s history of the city, replete with a wealth of new, never-before-published illustrations, which further develops a number of significant events, corrects critical errors, and, most importantly, incorporates many new stories and materials that document Selma’s establishment, growth, and development.

Comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and nonpartisan, Fitts’s pleasantly accessible history addresses every major issue, movement, and trend from the city’s settlement in 1815 to the end of the twentieth century. Its commerce, institutions, governance, as well as its evolving racial, religious, and class composition are all treated with candor and depth. Selma’s transformative role within the state and the nation is fully explored, and most notable is a nuanced and complex discussion of race relations from the rise of the civil rights era to modern times.

Alston Fitts III is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who earned a master’s degree from Harvard University in 1964 and a PhD in English from the University of Chicago in 1974. A former English teacher, Fitts served for decades as the director of information and principal fundraiser for the Edmundite Missions, a Catholic organization based in Selma.

“There is a palpable even-handedness about this book. It could serve as a common frame of reference for all of Selma’s citizens, black and white, and certainly for people in other places, including other parts of Alabama; it offers a font of useful information.”
—Frye Gaillard, author of Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement that Changed America

“What makes this book so worthwhile in my view is its discussion of the complexity of race since the days of the civil rights movement. Like so many communities that went through the civil rights movement, race remains a significant issue that can lead to open conflict with the slightest spark. Fitts shows how explosive the issue of race continued to be.”
—Wilson Fallin Jr., author of Uplifting the People: Three Centuries of Black Baptists in Alabama

384 pages / 199 B&W figures
ISBN: 978-0-8173-1832-8 Cloth
ISBN: 978-0-8173-9065-5 Ebook