Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-vi

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-x

read more

Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xvi

There he was, busily moving about his toys and happily humming.
“Do you know what that song is?” I asked him.
“Yes, it’s the Black National Anthem!”
“Where did you learn it?”
“At school.”
He walked away. I was surprised. My eldest son was then in kindergarten at a predominantly white, mostly upper-middle-class Quaker elementary...

read more

ONE: I’ll Make Me a World: Black Formalism at the Nadir

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 17-40

The beginnings of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” can be found in the lives of its lyricist, James Weldon Johnson, and its composer, John Rosamond Johnson. The building blocks were, of course, their imaginations and intellects. But how they came of age, the social fabric in which they lived, and the culture to which they belonged (and the many others of which they partook) are essential contexts for understanding how and why their song became the anthem of black America....

read more

TWO: The Sound and Fury of a Renaissance: Art and Activism in the Early Twentieth Century

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 41-87

Alain Locke’s 1925 essay “Enter the New Negro” is a classic in African American letters.1 In it, Locke describes a shift in black cultural and political life, a step toward greater boldness and unfettered imagination. But by the time the essay was published, black America was already a decade into the movement he described. During the years of World War I, and in its aftermath, black Americans, with their institutions now solidified, began mobilizing widely and creating more. Locke described this transition toward “the New Negro”...

read more

THREE: School Bell Song: "Lift Every Voice and Sing” in the Lives of Children in the Segregated South

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 88-125

Children, James Weldon Johnson stated, were the ones who first carried “Lift Every Voice and Sing” forward. But it was the deliberate cultivation of black children in formal educational and civic spaces that firmly institutionalized the song. That cultivation also shaped the youth of the black South who, in the mid-twentieth century, faced down white supremacy and transformed the nation and world....

read more

FOUR: The Bell Tolls for Thee: War, Americana, and the Anthem

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 126-155

Martin Luther King Jr.’s first public speech was delivered on April 17, 1944, at the state convention of the Colored Elks Clubs held at the First African Baptist Church in Dublin, Georgia. Each local chapter of the Colored Elks sponsored a high school student for the convention’s oratory contest. Young King, representing his father’s chapter, was the winner in 1944. Such contests were a commonplace in the segregated South. They were occasions to revel in the much-celebrated southern oratorical tradition, and for the...

read more

FIVE: Shall We Overcome?: Music and the Movement

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 156-179

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was precipitated by the act of Rosa Parks, a longtime activist and well-respected member of the black Montgomery community. Parks refused to yield her seat on a city bus to a white man. She was arrested and fined. The networked associations of Montgomery, long committed to organizing against segregation, responded with a call to boycott the segregation of the city’s public buses....

read more

SIX: All Power, All Poetry, to the People: From “Negro” to “Black” National Anthem

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 180-216

James Meredith began walking on June 6, 1966. He started in Memphis, Tennessee, and planned to go all the way to Jackson, Mississippi, on foot, a distance of 220 miles. Meredith was frustrated. Four years after he’d integrated Ole Miss, two years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and a year after the Voting Rights Act, little progress had been made to lift the heavy burden of racism on the backs of African Americans. In September 1962, he’d been escorted by federal marshals into his dorm room. In response, several...

read more

SEVEN: A Piece of the Rock: Post–Civil Rights Losses, Gains, and Remnants

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 217-233

One of the more tangible outcomes of the late 1960s freedom movement was the rise of black leadership in electoral politics. Carl Stokes became the mayor of Cleveland in 1967, the same year Richard Hatcher was elected mayor of Gary, Indiana. Between 1967 and 1995, approximately 400 black mayors were elected in American cities, a remarkable transformation in local leadership that began just over a decade after Jim Crow had been declared unconstitutional. Hatcher hosted the National Black Political Convention in...

read more

Afterword

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 234-242

The end is bitter with only the slightest sweetness. After eight increasingly frustrating years of the second Bush presidency, marked by September 11 and the continuing toll of two long wars, candidate Barack Obama stood as a beacon of hope: hope for new beginnings, for the possibility of a changed course in our national political vision, and for a refuge from the painful politics of race. That hope was unrealistic, premature, and sophomoric at best....

read more

Acknowledgment

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 243-244

To borrow from the inimitable Alabaman Margaret Walker, this book is for my people. And it is of them. I mean specifically the black South and its diaspora. This book is also a “but for my people” work, meaning it exists because of the grace of others as much if not more than as a result of my own labor.
My editor, Mark Simpson-Vos, has been an absolute delight to work with, and I couldn’t imagine better hands for bringing it to the world....

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 245-264

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 265-296