T. R. M. Howard
T. R. M. Howard

T. R. M. Howard

Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer


356 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, ebook: EPUB, ebook: PDF, Mobipocket

Paperback, $19.95 (US $19.95) (CA $26.95)

Publication Date: May 2018

ISBN 9781598133134


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T. R. M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer tells the remarkable story of one of the early leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. A renaissance man, T. R. M. Howard (1908-1976) was a respected surgeon, important black community leader, and successful businessman. Howard's story reveals the importance of the black middle class, their endurance and entrepreneurship in the midst of Jim Crow, and their critical role in the early Civil Rights Movement. In this powerful biography, David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito shine a light on the life and accomplishments of this civil rights leader. Howard founded black community organizations, organized civil rights rallies and boycotts, mentored Medgar Evers, antagonized the Ku Klux Klan, and helped lead the fight for justice for Emmett Till. Raised in poverty and witness to racial violence from a young age, Howard was passionate about justice and equality. Ambitious, zealous, and sometimes paradoxical, T. R. M. Howard provides a complete portrait of an important leader all too often forgotten.


"In the 15 or so years of the civil-rights movement, no incident evoked more outrage than the torture and killing of Emmett Till, the spirited 14-year-old who left Chicago in August 1955 to visit relatives in Mississippi. One afternoon in a general store, Till committed the fatal sin of smarting off (jokingly) to a white woman. His cousins hustled him away, but two nights later a knock at the door sounded. Menacing white men loomed, and as Till's great-uncle pleaded they marched in and hauled him away. A few days later, Till's body surfaced in the Tallahatchie River, a cotton-gin fan-wheel wrapped around him with barbed wire. The murder brought national disgust upon Mississippi. Especially after thousands of mourners viewed Till's open casket and noted the barbarities wrought upon the boy. . . . One of them was T.R.M. Howard, physician, landowner, activist, orator, and the subject of T.R.M. Howard, a compelling biography by David T. Beito and his wife Linda Royster Beito. T.R.M. Howard is a necessary biography, too: Howard played an important part in the Emmett Till story, and in the entire civil-rights are. He deserves to be better known... Three months after the Till murder, he lectured in a Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., the guest of 26-year-old pastor Martin Luther King. He spoke of shootings, the FBI and a freedom march on Washington, D.C. One woman in the audience remembered years later Howard's vivid description of the Till killing. Her name was Rosa Parks, and four days after Howard spoke, she answered a Montgomery bus driver, 'No.' He bought land, bred livestock, served on the board of a bank and advanced black enterprise on the premise that political power needed financial power. He led voter-registration drives, supported boycotts, and lobbied Washington for services and hospitals. . . Famed civil-rights leader Medgar Evans was Howard's protégé, as was (later) Jesse Jackson... Howard drove Cadillacs and Buicks, wore fancy clothes and loved guns and big-game hunting. He praised free enterprise with a Booker T. Washington fervor, believing entrepreneurs to be better agents of change than activists... A flamboyant Second Amendment, anti-communist capitalist doesn't please journalists and historians searching for civil-rights martyrs. T.R.M. Howard, though, makes room for exactly such a figure, and rightly so. That Howard made an important contribution is unquestionable." —Wall Street Journal

"T.R.M. Howard's wonderfully told story about an important personality sadly unknown to most students of the Civil Rights Movement, is a more than welcome corrective. Dr. Howard's life and accomplishments need to be better known!" —Julian Bond, former Chairman, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

"Dr. Howard was a history maker, and this book brings him to life as a man of courage whose actions and views on civil rights shaped American history." —Juan A. Williams, former News Analyst, National Public Radio; Political Analyst, Fox News Channel; author, Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965

"David T. Beito, a professor of history at the University of Alabama, and Linda Royster Beito, the chair of the department of social sciences at Stillman College, are the authors of T.R.M. Howard. Fifty-four years ago today, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting family in Mississippi, was abducted, mutilated and slain after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Several days later, his horribly disfigured body was fished out of the Tallahatchie River. Many such tragedies had previously happened to black Americans, and then been ignored. The Till case was different because of the efforts of a flamboyant and wealthy black planter and surgeon, T.R.M. Howard. Howard's place in history has been woefully slighted. Without him, we might never have heard of Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers or Operation PUSH. Howard was the crucial link connecting the Till slaying and the rise of the modern civil rights movement. But he was an unlikely civil rights hero. A prosperous businessman who spared no expense on his wardrobe, sped around in expensive Cadillacs, gambled on horses, ran a successful hospital that provided affordable healthcare, hunted big game in Africa, and owned a 1,000-acre plantation, Howard promoted an agenda of entrepreneurship and self-help... Why isn't this larger-than-life figure better known? Howard, a classically American 'man on the make,' is hard to pigeonhole. His secular orientation and pro-business ideas made him an anomaly in a civil rights movement dominated by church leaders and left-liberal activists. Politically, his activities offer something to please and offend everybody: A staunch Republican and ally of President Eisenhower, Howard was also a committed feminist whose clinics offered safe abortions in the years before Roe vs. Wade. But those who knew T.R.M. Howard (who died in 1976 at age 68) still speak about his energy, charisma and commitment. 'The man was dynamic,' recalled Mamie Till-Mobley, 'I just thought he was the greatest in the world.'" —Los Angeles Times  

"It is my privilege and pleasure to have known and worked with Dr. Howard as he was pursuing the cause of civil rights in Mississippi with the same vim and vigor as it was being pursued in New York, Chicago, and other places. I was also afraid of him. This illuminating biography is a must-read for anyone seeking to know more about the civil rights struggle in Mississippi in foregone years. Every acre was a drop of blood and every step was a tear." —Benjamin L. Hooks, former Executive Director, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

"The definitive work on the life of T.R.M. Howard. A fascinating narrative that illuminates important aspects of the African American experience in the twentieth century." —Adam Fairclough, Professor Emeritus of American History, Leiden University Institute for History; author of Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000

"If there was a Mount Rushmore of civil rights icons, it would include Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and T.R.M. Howard. Howard was that important to the cause of civil rights. The powerful book, T.R.M. Howard, now brings to life this extraordinary figure in African-American history. Best known for his role in the civil rights movement, Howard was also a leading figure in African-American medicine, business, and social life. This is the story of Howard, but it is also the story of the black professionals and business people who contributed mightily to the cause of racial freedom. Readers will marvel at the life of Howard: a machine-gun toting advocate of protest and nonviolence who courted controversy within the movement and beyond. Based on the true story of Howard, the life and legend of the man could fill a Hollywood movie (or two). In the meantime, we have this magnificent biography to tell the story of larger-than-life figure, T.R.M. Howard." —Jonathan J. Bean, Professor of History, Southern Illinois University

"One of the best biographies I have read in years. It works both as a revisionist project, challenging our understanding of the nature of black leadership in the South, and as a reclamation project, bringing back into the discussion a colorful and important transitional figure who has received little notice from scholars." —Charles M. Payne, Jr., Frank P. Hixon Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago; author of I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

Author Biography

David T. Beito is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Professor of History at the University of Alabama. He received his Ph.D. in history at the University of Wisconsin, and he is the recipient of the Ellis Hawley Prize. Professor Beito is the author of Taxpayers in Revolt: Tax Resistance during the Great Depression and From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967.Linda Royster Beito is associate professor and chair of the Department of Social Sciences at Stillman College and the author of Leadership Effectiveness in Community Policing.

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