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Lee Hadden wrote "Southern Discomfiters," By STUART FERGUSON. Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2007; Page P13
This is a book review of a biography of "showing the unlikely firebrand Juliette Hampton Morgan as the very stereotype of a lady librarian. (Her warm smile and sparkling eyes more than make up for her rather severe hair and dull dress.)"
A devout Episcopalian, Morgan insisted that the New Testament required the equal treatment of everyone, no matter their skin color. She urged her library, unsuccessfully, to allow black patrons to use its collections. Her Dec. 12, 1955, letter to the Montgomery Advertiser in support of the just-begun bus boycott is especially moving...The letter was praised in the black press and denounced in the white. Friends and library patrons stopped talking to Morgan. She was harassed with phone calls and the ringing of her doorbell in the middle of the night. Stones were thrown through the windows of her house. Even so, a new driver's license in hand, she picked up Montgomery's boycott-stranded cooks and maids, taking them to work in the morning and back home in the evening. But after a Jan. 14, 1957, letter to the editor of the Tuscaloosa News (her mother called it Juliette's "death warrant") -- commenting on the attempted integration of the University of Alabama -- her world came undone. She wrote: "I have begun to wonder if there were any men in the state -- any white men -- with any sane evaluation of our situation here in the middle of the 20th century, with any good will and most especially any moral courage to express it. After this swipe at the courage of white Southern men, a cross was burned on the Morgan's front lawn. People boycotted the Montgomery Library and teenage boys taunted Morgan in front of her staff. Often plagued by depression, she found her state of mind deteriorating. She underwent shock treatments, which just made things worse. The city's segregationist mayor, determined to get rid of Morgan, cut her salary from the library budget. Finally she resigned. Two days later, on July 17, 1957, Lila Bess found her daughter dead in her bedroom next to an empty bottle of sleeping pills. Despite all the enemies she had made, it turned out that Juliette Morgan also had many admirers -- they thronged her funeral service. But there were no black mourners among them. The church where the service was held turned them away.