My Life with Charles Billups and Martin Luther King

Trauma and the Civil Rights Movement

Charles Billups displayed pivotal leadership during the climax of the entire civil rights movement — Martin Luther King’s campaign in Birmingham. But little of Billups’ story has been told. Until now. In this book, Billups’ daughter, Rene Billups Baker, relates his torture by the Ku Klux Klan. For the first time, she reveals his participation in King’s key strategy sessions at the Gaston Motel. More fully than anyone else, Rene records her father’s courageous direction of a march that serves as one of the peak moments of American nonviolence. King himself deemed the march “fantastic.” Rene also tells about her own encounters with King, encounters that have never before appeared in print. And she recalls an experience of unthinkable trauma in Chicago. This dramatic account illuminates the horrors of white supremacist violence, as well as the triumph and cost of resisting it.


Keith Miller is professor of English in writing, rhetorics and literacies at ASU.

Praise for this book

When Keith (Miller) sent me the manuscript of this book, I literally could not put it down: I read it straight through, and then read it again, time traveling back to Baker’s childhood and trying to see events through her young eyes. Baker is determined to tell her father’s story, to make sure that people remember him for the hero he was, and to honor that memory. And he comes to life in her pages; we get to know him through his daughter’s words.

Andrea A. Lunsford Bedford Bits
Cover of My Life with Charles Billups and Martin Luther King by Rene Billups Baker and Keith Miller
Date published
Peacock Proud Press

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