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Ideologies and Strategies in African American Politics

Kevin R. Anderson

Publication Year: 2010

Though the activities of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were unified in their common idea of resistance to oppression, these groups fought their battles on multiple fronts. The NAACP filed lawsuits and aggressively lobbied Congress and state legislatures, while Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC challenged the racial status quo through nonviolent mass action, and the SNCC focused on community empowerment activities. In Agitations, Kevin Anderson studies these various activities in order to trace the ideological foundations of these groups and to understand how diversity among African Americans created multiple political strategies. Agitations goes beyond the traditionally acknowledged divide between integrationist and accommodationist wings of African American politics to explore the diverse fundamental ideologies and strategic outcomes among African American activists that still define, influence, and complicate political life today.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

When Africans first arrived in America, they came bound together in chains. These chains tied them together as a group yet the links of the chain separated them into individuals, creating distinct experiences with slavery, racism, and the character of American life. How did these experiences affect the agitations for freedom? ...

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p. xiii

This work is the product of multiple influences; although only my name is on the cover, numerous people have shaped this work in ways large and small and I thank each of them for their knowledge, friendship, and support. My intellectual debts begin with Dr. Leroy Williams of the Department of History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. ...

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1.Agitations: African American Ideology in Action

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pp. 1-8

African Americans hold a unique claim upon the evolution of American politics and political thought. Scholarly debates regarding freedom and equality, liberty and justice, and the fundamental definition of what it means to be an American can all be filtered through the history of African Americans. ...

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2. Counted but not Heard: The Evolutionary Context of African American Political Thought

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pp. 9-32

This nation’s dominant ideological traditions are central to both African American freedom and American democracy, traditions which framed the political ideals of an oppressed minority and translated those ideals into concrete politi - cal action. This investigation begins by analyzing the history of American political thought and its relationship to African Americans. ...

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3. An Identity Crisis: The Ideological Foundation of the NAACP

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pp. 33-72

The quest for freedom by African Americans has, from the founding of the nation, revolved around the basic concepts of justice and equality. The professed ideals of the American Revolution that shaped the politics of the emerging nation never appeared to apply to African Americans. ...

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4. Ministers in Black: The Ideological Origins of Grassroots Civil Rights Protest

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pp. 73-112

Although the racial oppression felt by African Americans varied little across the nation, the perceptions of it and reactions to it varied greatly among the people. The moral foundations of the arguments for change emanating from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were rooted in a perception of American racism ...

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5. Sitting Down to Stand Up: Ideology and the Creation of SNCC

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pp. 113-148

At what point would people most vulnerable to racial oppression lead their own organization and articulate strategies reflecting their class status and the ideological diversity among African Americans? What is the impact of pushing against the boundaries of American liberalism? How do strategies change? ...

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6. Agitations: Freedom and the Future

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pp. 149-158

In 1903 W. E. B. Du Bois posed a fundamental question as he prepared to analyze the existence of African Americans: How does it feel to be a problem? Given the status of African American life, what could they do to uplift the community and make America a better nation? ...


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pp. 159-174

Works Cited

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pp. 175-190


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pp. 191-198

E-ISBN-13: 9781610750110
E-ISBN-10: 161075011X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557289261
Print-ISBN-10: 1557289263

Page Count: 263
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 769187848
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Agitations

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Politics and government -- Philosophy.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Political science -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Intellectual life -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
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