author of "You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America"
Paul Kix, author of "You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America"
Paul Kix, a writer who loves to tell big beating-heart stories about larger-than-life people in precarious situations. The men and women who live through these experiences often have the best sense for the universal truths of life, and I’ve become obsessed over the years with not only the drama of these characters’ existence but the wisdom they’ve gained. I’ve tried my best to relay that wisdom in my magazines pieces or in the pages of my book, The Saboteur, which DreamWorks optioned for a movie, and my piece for GQ, The Accidental Getaway Driver, which was turned into a major motion picture.
I’ve also had the good fortune of shaping other writers’ work at ESPN.com, where I’m a deputy editor. These are often writers whose compassion drives them to do their best work: Pulitzer-Prize winners like Eli Saslow and Don Van Natta, Jr.; the poet and MacArthur “Genius” Award winner Claudia Rankine; and Wright Thompson, acclaimed (not only by me!) as the best sportswriter working today.
When I’m not writing I’m teaching a digital course I created, The Storytelling You, or helping clients with their writing and storytelling projects.
From journalist Paul Kix, the riveting story, never before fully told, of the 1963 Birmingham Campaign—ten weeks that would shape the course of the Civil Rights Movement and the future of America.
It’s one of the iconic photographs of American history: A Black teenager, a policeman and his lunging German Shepherd. Birmingham, Alabama, May of 1963. In May of 2020, as reporter Paul Kix stared at a different photo–that of a Minneapolis police officer suffocating George Floyd–he kept returning to the other photo taken half a century earlier, haunted by its echoes. What, Kix wondered, was the full legacy of the Birmingham photo? And of the campaign it stemmed from?
In You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live, Paul Kix takes the reader behind the scenes as he tells the story of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s pivotal 10 week campaign in 1963 to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. At the same time, he also provides a window into the minds of the four extraordinary men who led the campaign—Martin Luther King, Jr., Wyatt Walker, Fred Shuttlesworth, and James Bevel. With page-turning prose that read like a thriller, Kix’s book is the first to zero in on the ten weeks of Project C, as it was known—its specific history and its echoes sounding throughout our culture now. It’s about Where It All Began, for sure, but it’s also the key to understanding Where We Are Now and Where We Will Be. As the fight for equality continues on many fronts, Project C is crucial to our understanding of our own time and the impact that strategic activism can have.