In his seminal article “Freedom Then, Freedom Now,” renowned civil rights historian Steven F. Lawson described his vision for the future study of the civil rights movement. Lawson called for a deeper examination of the social, economic, and political factors that influenced the movement’s development and growth. He urged his fellow scholars to connect the “local with the national, the political with the social,” and to investigate the ideological origins of the civil rights movement, its internal dynamics, the role of women, and the significance of gender and sexuality. In Freedom Rights: New Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement, editors Danielle L. McGuire and John Dittmer follow Lawson’s example, bringing together the best new scholarship on the modern civil rights movement. The work expands our understanding of the movement by engaging issues of local and national politics, gender and race relations, family, community, and sexuality. The volume addresses cultural, legal, and social developments and also investigates the roots of the movement. Each essay highlights important moments in the history of the struggle, from the impact of the Young Women’s Christian Association on integration to the use of the arts as a form of activism. Freedom Rights not only answers Lawson’s call for a more dynamic, interactive history of the civil rights movement, but it also helps redefine the field.
Over the past thirty years, Steven F. Lawson has established himself as one of the nation's leading historians of the black struggle for equality. Civil Rights Crossroads is an important collection of Lawson's writings about the civil rights movement that is essential reading for anyone concerned about the past, present, and future of race relations in America. Lawson examines the movement from a variety of perspectives -- local and national, political and social -- to offer penetrating insights into the civil rights movement and its influence on contemporary society. Civil Rights Crossroads also illuminates the role of a broad array of civil rights activists, familiar and unfamiliar. Lawson describes the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Johnson to shape the direction of the struggle, as well as the extraordinary contributions of ordinary people like Fannie Lou Hamer, Harry T. Moore, Ruth Perry, Theodore Gibson, and many other unsung heroes of the most important social movement of the twentieth century. Lawson also examines the decades-long battle to achieve and expand the right of African Americans to vote and to implement the ballot as the cornerstone of attempts at political liberation.
The ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice lies at the heart of America’s evolving identity. The pursuit of equal rights is often met with social and political trepidation, forcing citizens and leaders to grapple with controversial issues of race, class, and gender. Renowned scholar Harvard Sitkoff has devoted his life to the study of the civil rights movement, becoming a key figure in global human rights discussions and an authority on American liberalism. Toward Freedom Land assembles Sitkoff ’s writings on twentieth-century race relations, representing some of the finest race-related historical research on record. Spanning thirty-five years of Sitkoff ’s distingushed career, the collection features an in-depth examination of the Great Depression and its effects on African Americans, the intriguing story of the labor movement and its relationship to African American workers, and a discussion of the effects of World War II on the civil rights movement. His precise analysis illuminates multifaceted racial issues including the New Deal’s impact on race relations, the Detroit Riot of 1943, and connections between African Americans, Jews, and the Holocaust.
A. Philip Randolph's career as a trade unionist and civil rights activist fundamentally shaped the course of black protest in the mid-twentieth century. Standing alongside individuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey at the center of the cultural renaissance and political radicalism that shaped communities such as Harlem in the 1920s and into the 1930s, Randolph fashioned an understanding of social justice that reflected a deep awareness of how race complicated class concerns, especially among black laborers. Examining Randolph's work in lobbying for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, threatening to lead a march on Washington in 1941, and establishing the Fair Employment Practice Committee, Cornelius L. Bynum shows that Randolph's push for African American equality took place within a broader progressive program of industrial reform. Some of Randolph's pioneering plans for engineering change--which served as foundational strategies in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s--included direct mass action, nonviolent civil disobedience, and purposeful coalitions between black and white workers. Bynum interweaves biographical information on Randolph with details on how he gradually shifted his thinking about race and class, full citizenship rights, industrial organization, trade unionism, and civil rights protest throughout his activist career.
The Struggle for Black Equality is a dramatic, memorable history of the civil rights movement. Harvard Sitkoff offers both a brilliant interpretation of the personalities and dynamics of civil rights organizations and a compelling analysis of the continuing problems plaguing many African Americans. With a new foreword and afterword, and an up-to-date bibliography, this anniversary edition highlights the continuing significance of the movement for black equality and justice.
New Perspectives on the Black Freedom Struggle in America
Author: Jeffrey L. Littlejohn,Reginald K. Ellis,Peter B. Levy
Publisher: Southern Dissent
The essays presented here offer a wide-ranging and inclusive interpretation of the Black Freedom Struggle that stretches beyond the confines of the "old South" from 1954 to 1968. By expanding the chronology and geography of the Black Freedom Struggle, the essays in this collection enhance the existing historical narrative, while also complicating our understanding of black activism over the last century and a half.
Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South
Author: Robert R. Korstad
Publisher: UNC Press Books
Category: Political Science
Drawing on scores of interviews with black and white tobacco workers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Robert Korstad brings to life the forgotten heroes of Local 22 of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers of America-CIO. These workers confronted a system of racial capitalism that consigned African Americans to the basest jobs in the industry, perpetuated low wages for all southerners, and shored up white supremacy. Galvanized by the emergence of the CIO, African Americans took the lead in a campaign that saw a strong labor movement and the reenfranchisement of the southern poor as keys to reforming the South--and a reformed South as central to the survival and expansion of the New Deal. In the window of opportunity opened by World War II, they blurred the boundaries between home and work as they linked civil rights and labor rights in a bid for justice at work and in the public sphere. But civil rights unionism foundered in the maelstrom of the Cold War. Its defeat undermined later efforts by civil rights activists to raise issues of economic equality to the moral high ground occupied by the fight against legalized segregation and, Korstad contends, constrains the prospects for justice and democracy today.
Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America
Author: Daniel R. Biddle,Murray Dubin
Publisher: Temple University Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Octavius Valentine Catto was an orator who shared stages with Frederick Douglass, a second baseman on Philadelphia’s best black baseball team, a teacher at the city’s finest black school and an activist who fought in the state capital and on the streets for equal rights. With his racially-charged murder, the nation lost a civil rights pioneer—one who risked his life a century before Selma and Birmingham. In Tasting Freedom Murray Dubin and Pulitzer Prize winner Dan Biddle painstakingly chronicle the life of this charismatic black leader—a “free” black whose freedom was in name only. Born in the American south, where slavery permeated everyday life, he moved north where he joined the fight to be truly free—free to vote, go to school, ride on streetcars, play baseball and even participate in July 4th celebrations. Catto electrified a biracial audience in 1864 when he proclaimed, “There must come a change,” calling on free men and women to act and educate the newly freed slaves. With a group of other African Americans who called themselves a “band of brothers,” they challenged one injustice after another. Tasting Freedom presents the little-known stories of Catto and the men and women who struggled to change America.
Bernard LaFayette Jr. (b. 1940) was a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a leader in the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, a Freedom Rider, an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the national coordinator of the Poor People's Campaign. At the young age of twenty-two, he assumed the directorship of the Alabama Voter Registration Project in Selma -- a city that had previously been removed from the organization's list due to the dangers of operating there. In this electrifying memoir, written with Kathryn Lee Johnson, LaFayette shares the inspiring story of his years in Selma. When he arrived in 1963, Selma was a small, quiet, rural town. By 1965, it had made its mark in history and was nationally recognized as a battleground in the fight for racial equality and the site of one of the most important victories for social change in our nation. LaFayette was one of the primary organizers of the 1965 Selma voting rights movement and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, and he relates his experiences of these historic initiatives in close detail. Today, as the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is still questioned, citizens, students, and scholars alike will want to look to this book as a guide. Important, compelling, and powerful, In Peace and Freedom presents a necessary perspective on the civil rights movement in the 1960s from one of its greatest leaders.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Memphis, Tennessee, had the largest metropolitan population of African Americans in the Mid-South region and served as a political hub for civic organizations and grassroots movements. On April 4, 1968, the city found itself at the epicenter of the civil rights movement when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel. Nevertheless, despite the many significant events that took place in the city and its citizens' many contributions to the black freedom struggle, Memphis has been largely overlooked by historians of the civil rights movement. In An Unseen Light, eminent and rising scholars offer a multidisciplinary examination of Memphis's role in African American history during the twentieth century. Together, they investigate episodes such as the 1940 "Reign of Terror" when black Memphians experienced a prolonged campaign of harassment, mass arrests, and violence at the hands of police. They also examine topics including the relationship between the labor and civil rights movements, the fight for economic advancement in black communities, and the impact of music on the city's culture. Covering subjects as diverse as politics, sports, music, activism, and religion, An Unseen Light illuminates Memphis's place in the long history of the struggle for African American freedom.
The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
Author: Thomas J. Sugrue
Publisher: Random House
The struggle for racial equality in the North has been a footnote in most books about civil rights in America. Now this monumental new work from one of the most brilliant historians of his generation sets the record straight. Sweet Land of Liberty is an epic, revelatory account of the abiding quest for justice in states from Illinois to New York, and of how the intense northern struggle differed from and was inspired by the fight down South. Thomas Sugrue’s panoramic view sweeps from the 1920s to the present–more than eighty of the most decisive years in American history. He uncovers the forgotten stories of battles to open up lunch counters, beaches, and movie theaters in the North; the untold history of struggles against Jim Crow schools in northern towns; the dramatic story of racial conflict in northern cities and suburbs; and the long and tangled histories of integration and black power. Appearing throughout these tumultuous tales of bigotry and resistance are the people who propelled progress, such as Anna Arnold Hedgeman, a dedicated churchwoman who in the 1930s became both a member of New York’s black elite and an increasingly radical activist; A. Philip Randolph, who as America teetered on the brink of World War II dared to threaten FDR with a march on Washington to protest discrimination–and got the Fair Employment Practices Committee (“the second Emancipation Proclamation”) as a result; Morris Milgram, a white activist who built the Concord Park housing development, the interracial answer to white Levittown; and Herman Ferguson, a mild-mannered New York teacher whose protest of a Queens construction site led him to become a key player in the militant Malcolm X’s movement. Filled with unforgettable characters and riveting incidents, and making use of information and accounts both public and private, such as the writings of obscure African American journalists and the records of civil rights and black power groups, Sweet Land of Liberty creates an indelible history. Thomas Sugrue has written a narrative bound to become the standard source on this essential subject. From the Hardcover edition.
African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement
Author: Janet Dewart Bell
Publisher: The New Press
One of Book Riot's “29 Amazing New Books Coming in 2018” A groundbreaking collection based on oral histories that brilliantly plumb the leadership of African American women in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights—many nearly lost to history—from the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize During the Civil Rights Movement, African American women were generally not in the headlines; they simply did the work that needed to be done. Yet despite their significant contributions at all levels of the movement, they remain mostly invisible to the larger public. Beyond Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Dorothy Height, most Americans, black and white alike, would be hard-pressed to name other leaders at the community, local, and national levels. In Lighting the Fires of Freedom Janet Dewart Bell shines a light on women’s all-too-often overlooked achievements in the Movement. Through wide-ranging conversations with nine women, several now in their nineties with decades of untold stories, we hear what ignited and fueled their activism, as Bell vividly captures their inspiring voices. Lighting the Fires of Freedom offers these deeply personal and intimate accounts of extraordinary struggles for justice that resulted in profound social change, stories that remain important and relevant today. Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Lighting the Fires of Freedom is a vital document for understanding the Civil Rights Movement and an enduring testament to the vitality of women’s leadership during one of the most dramatic periods of American history.
The civil rights movement was first and foremost a struggle for racial equality, but questions of gender lay deeply embedded within this struggle. Steve Estes explores key groups, leaders, and events in the movement to understand how activists used race and manhood to articulate their visions of what American society should be. Estes demonstrates that, at crucial turning points in the movement, both segregationists and civil rights activists harnessed masculinist rhetoric, tapping into implicit assumptions about race, gender, and sexuality. Estes begins with an analysis of the role of black men in World War II and then examines the segregationists, who demonized black male sexuality and galvanized white men behind the ideal of southern honor. He then explores the militant new models of manhood espoused by civil rights activists such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., and groups such as the Nation of Islam, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Black Panther Party. Reliance on masculinist organizing strategies had both positive and negative consequences, Estes concludes. Tracing these strategies from the integration of the U.S. military in the 1940s through the Million Man March in the 1990s, he shows that masculinism rallied men to action but left unchallenged many of the patriarchal assumptions that underlay American society.
No other book about the civil rights movement captures the drama and impact of the black struggle for equality better than Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 1945 1968. Two of the most respected scholars of African-American history, Steven F. Lawson and Charles M. Payne, examine the individuals who made the movement a success, both at the highest level of government and in the grassroots trenches. Designed specifically for college and university courses in American history, this is the best introduction available to the glory and agony of these turbulent times. Carefully chosen primary documents augment each essay giving students the opportunity to interpret the historical record themselves and engage in meaningful discussion. In this revised and updated edition, Lawson and Payne have included additional analysis on the legacy of Martin Luther King and added important new documents."
Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle
Author: Darryl Mace
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Category: Social Science
The lynching of fourteen-year-old Emmett Louis Till was one of the most incendiary events of the growing civil rights movement, and the myths and misinformation spread by the media have complicated his legacy. In Remembrance of Emmett Till: Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle breaks down the media coverage to examine events from various perspectives -- revealing racial and regional biases -- and analyses the way in which Till has been memorialized.
James Jackson and Esther Cooper Jackson grew up understanding that opportunities came differently for blacks and whites, men and women, rich and poor. In turn, they devoted their lives to the fight for equality, serving as career activists throughout the black freedom movement. Having grown up in Virginia during the depths of the Great Depression, the Jacksons also saw a path to racial equality through the Communist Party. This choice in political affiliation would come to shape and define not only their participation in the black freedom movement but also the course of their own marriage as the Cold War years unfolded. In this dual biography, Sara Rzeszutek Haviland examines the couple's political involvement as well as the evolution of their personal and public lives in the face of ever-shifting contexts. She documents the Jacksons' significant contributions to the early civil rights movement, discussing their time leading the Southern Negro Youth Congress, which laid the groundwork for youth activists in the 1960s; their numerous published writings in periodicals such as Political Affairs; and their editorial involvement in The Worker and the civil rights magazine Freedomways. Drawing upon a rich collection of correspondence, organizational literature, and interviews with the Jacksons themselves, Haviland follows the couple through the years as they bore witness to economic inequality, war, political oppression, and victory in the face of injustice. Her study reveals a portrait of a remarkable pair who lived during a transformative period of American history and whose story offers a vital narrative of persistence, love, and activism across the long arc of the black freedom movement.
Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom
Author: William Henry Chafe
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Reveals how whites in Greensboro used the traditional Southern concept of civility as a means of keeping Black protest in check and how Black activists continually devised new ways of asserting their quest for freedom.
Black Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis
Author: Keona K. Ervin
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Like most of the nation during the 1930s, St. Louis, Missouri, was caught in the stifling grip of the Great Depression. For the next thirty years, the "Gateway City" continued to experience significant urban decline as its population swelled and the area's industries stagnated. Over these decades, many African American citizens in the region found themselves struggling financially and fighting for access to profitable jobs and suitable working conditions. To combat ingrained racism, crippling levels of poverty, and sub-standard living conditions, black women worked together to form a community-based culture of resistance -- fighting for employment, a living wage, dignity, representation, and political leadership. Gateway to Equality investigates black working-class women's struggle for economic justice from the rise of New Deal liberalism in the 1930s to the social upheavals of the 1960s. Author Keona K. Ervin explains that the conditions in twentieth-century St. Louis were uniquely conducive to the rise of this movement since the city's economy was based on light industries that employed women, such as textiles and food processing. As part of the Great Migration, black women migrated to the city at a higher rate than their male counterparts, and labor and black freedom movements relied less on a charismatic, male leadership model. This made it possible for women to emerge as visible and influential leaders in both formal and informal capacities. In this impressive study, Ervin presents a stunning account of the ways in which black working-class women creatively fused racial and economic justice. By illustrating that their politics played an important role in defining urban political agendas, her work sheds light on an unexplored aspect of community activism and illuminates the complexities of the overlapping civil rights and labor movements during the first half of the twentieth century.