The importance of establishing principles to promote change

Oct 26, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:39 am

In a March 14, 2012 photo, a display of colored items is seen at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memo...

In a March 14, 2012 photo, a display of colored items is seen at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Big Rapids, Mich. Norman and Velma Hill's new book "Climbing the Rough Side of the Mountain," details the important role that values played in the civil rights movement. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Norman and Velma Hill’s new book demonstrates the important role that defining governing principles played in the American civil rights movement. A new book, “Climbing the Rough Side of the Mountain,” highlights how alliances and core values are key elements of moving toward change, even today. 

Both authors were activists fighting for racial equality when they met and later married. 

Post Hill Press described the book as a “remarkable story of a couple who came together during the civil rights movement.” Norman and Velma worked for over sixty years fighting for equality, civil rights, and workers’ rights. 

“I think that by utilizing the basic operating principles and organizing coalition basis to … generate support we can overcome [problems] today,” said Hill. 

Hill said he and his wife “believe that pursuing racial equality, and economic justice should be done by adopting a majoritarian strategy.” 

According to Hill, there is a level of commitment to values that must be upheld. Accordingly, the theme is one he returns to throughout the book. 

“Climbing the rough side means that we are committed to a society [where] racial equality and economic justice would prevail,” Hill said. Values, much like rocks on an actual mountain, give those who are “climbing” something to hold on to. 

The story behind “Climbing the Rough Side of the Mountain” 

Hill explained the title of the book. “‘Climbing the rough side of the Mountain’ is from a Negro spiritual. [It] reflects the fact that it is not possible to climb the smooth side of the mountain because there’s nothing to hold on to.” 

Hill met his wife, Velma, on the picket lines of the civil rights movement. After they met, they worked to de-segregate Rainbow Beach in Chicago. He said Velma was the leader of the effort. 

“We decided to take an integrated group of about 30 to the beach,” Hill said. A “white gang” confronted the group during the evening spent on the beach.

They threw stones and rocks, hitting Velma in the head. 

“We vowed in spite of what had happened to go back to the beach,” said Hill. He added that they continued to return until the beach was de-segregated. 

The book is a chronicle of the activism and the visions that led to change.

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The importance of establishing principles to promote change