Glenn T. Eskew has an abiding interest in southern history having taught the subject at Georgia State University since 1993. Currently he heads the university's World Heritage Initiative, an effort to develop a serial nomination of U. S. civil rights sites for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. His But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle (1997) received the Francis Butler Simkins Award from Southern Historical Association and Longwood College for the best book in southern history by a new author. His biography, Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World (2013), received the Bell Award from the Georgia Historical Society and was selected as a Choice outstanding academic title. Currently he is writing a history of civil rights monuments, museums, and institutions in the Deep South. Eskew serves on a number of national, regional, state, and local boards, and promotes historic preservation and public history.
In documenting how communities in the U. S. South built monuments and museums to the modern struggle for race reform, Memorializing the Movement: Civil Rights Commemorations and America’s Ideology of Tolerance considers a variety of outcomes resulting from the public engagement with the contested past in Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and Memphis, but also Little Rock, Albany, Oxford, Greensboro, Farmville, and Washington. In many cases movement veterans initiated the drives that federal, state and local leaders took up. Funding came from public, private and corporate sources. These memorials serve as shrines for pilgrims and fuel a heritage tourism industry. Bifurcated missions celebrated civil rights victories while advocating for social change, sending out ambiguous messages. The grassroots embraced civil rights memorials as vehicles for telling local stories that had a global impact, while national leaders saw in them opportunities to promulgate international values of tolerance. Having told separate stories of southern communities using public memory to memorialize the movement, a conclusion offers analysis of an American expression of tolerance as a form of personal identity in an era of transnationalism.