The 1986 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award was presented to Robert Norrell for Reaping the Whirlwind: The Civil Rights Movement in Tuskegee and J. Anthony Lukas for Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families.
In Reaping the Whirlwind, Robert Norrell traces the course of the civil rights movement in Tuskegee, Alabama. Home to Booker T. Washington's famed Tuskegee Institute, the town boasted an unusually large professional class of African Americans, whose economic security and level of education provided a base for challenging the authority of white conservative officials. Offering sensitive portrayals of both black and white figures, Norrell takes the reader from the founding of the Institute in 1881 and early attempts to create a harmonious society based on the separation of the races to the successes and disappointments delivered by the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
Robert Norrell holds the Bernadotte Schmitt Chair of History at the University of Tennessee. In addition to Reaping the Whirlwind, he is the author of numbers books including Opening Doors: An Appraisal of Contemporary Race Relations.