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Peace Be Still

Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama

Matthew C. Whitaker

Publication Year: 2014

A concise, engaging, and provocative history of African Americans since World War II, Peace Be Still is also nothing less than an alternate history of the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Organizing this history around culture, politics, and resistance, Matthew C. Whitaker takes us from World War II as a galvanizing force for African American activism and the modern civil rights movement to the culmination of generations of struggle in the election of Barack Obama.

From the promise of the post–World War II era to the black power movement of the 1960s, the economic and political struggles of the 1970s, and the major ideological realignment of political culture during the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, this book chronicles a people fighting oppression while fashioning a dynamic culture of artistic and religious expression along with a program of educational and professional advancement. A resurgence of rigid conservative right-wing policies, the politics of poverty, racial profiling, and police brutality are ongoing counterpoints to African Americans rising to political prominence and securing positions once denied them.

A history of African Americans for a new generation, Peace Be Still demonstrates how dramatically African American history illuminates the promise, conflicts, contradictions, hopes, and victories that all Americans share.


Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

Favor is priceless. I have benefi ted from the good deeds of many people, and if my wealth were determined by the goodwill they have given me, my buying power would rival that of Bill Gates. Indeed, I am truly beholden to many institutions, colleagues, friends, and family for enabling me to write this book. I thank the following people at Arizona State University ...

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pp. 1-6

...?Moses, my servant, is dead. Th erefore arise and go over Jordan.? Th ere are no deliverers. Th ey?re all dead. We must arise and go over History exists within the past and the present. Although we tend to view the past as complete and fi xed regardless of the passage of time, it is far from static. If you consider how many things occurred in the lives of ...

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1. “Make Way for Democracy,” 1939–1954

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pp. 7-52

Be not dismayed in these terrible times. You possess power, great power. Our problem is to hitch it up [to] action on the broadest, African American life during the Great Depression and World War II cre-ated the framework for the development of the modern civil rights move-ment. Forged to destroy both legal and extralegal racial discrimination ...

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2. “Let Your Motto Be Resistance,” 1954–1961

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pp. 53-84

One?s own struggle is individual, but it is not unique. All of life is For most white Americans, the period between 1954 and 1963 brought unparalleled prosperity. Th e wealthy among them, as well as many mid-dle-class whites, escaped the integration of public schools and the decay-ing urban industrial economy by fl eeing to all-white suburbs character-...

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3. “Deep Rumbling of Discontent,” 1961–1968

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pp. 85-132

...rumbling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of the bright hills of freedom . . . All over the world, like a fever, the freedom movement is spreading in the widest liberation in history.?Martin L.scuther K.scing J.scr., ?Quest for Peace and Justice,? Between 1961 and 1965, the civil rights movement cultivated highly eff ec-...

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4. “So Let It Be Done,” 1968–1980

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pp. 133-168

...dismiss the fallacious notion that white people can give anybody their freedom. In order for America to really live a new society must be born. Racism must die. Th e economic exploitation by this King?s murder unleashed a torrent of violence, as many African Ameri-cans, saddened and enraged at the same time, responded to the news by ...

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5. “To the Break of Dawn,” 1980–2000

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pp. 169-212

I remember Marvin Gaye, he used to sing to me. He had me feeling like black was the thing to be. And suddenly the ghetto didn?t seem Th e Republican return to power during the 1980s swung America?s polit-ical pendulum sharply to the right. Th is transition profoundly aff ected black Americans, especially the poorest among them. When Reagan ...

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6. “The Audacity of Hope,” 2000–2008

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pp. 213-246

Th ere is not a liberal America and a conservative America?there is the United States of America. Th ere is not a black America and a In his most famous work, Th e Souls of Black Folk, the black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois (1868?1963) off ered his readers a vision of the United States in which people of African descent could embrace both their Afri-...

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7. Contemporary Black America

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pp. 247-278

Understanding American race relations and using its lessons can help us break out of the contemporary cycle of racial polarization and fragmentation and move into a cycle of racial understanding Th roughout the history of modern black America, African Americans continued to advance socially, economically, and politically, despite the ...

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8. Hope and Change

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pp. 279-306

Th is union may never be perfect, but generation aft er generation On February 10, 2007, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for Presi-dent of the United States in front of the state capitol building in Spring-fi eld, Illinois. Th e announcement site was extremely meaningful because it was also where Abraham Lincoln, in 1858, had delivered his historic ...

Appendix 1

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pp. 307-308

Appendix 2

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pp. 309-310

Appendix 3

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pp. 311-312

Appendix 4

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pp. 313-316

Appendix 5

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pp. 317-320

Appendix 6

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pp. 321-322

Appendix 7

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pp. 323-349

Appendix 8

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pp. 333-334

Appendix 9

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pp. 335-336

Appendix 10

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pp. 337-338


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pp. 339-348


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pp. 349-374


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pp. 375-393

E-ISBN-13: 9780803249585
E-ISBN-10: 0803249586
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803246935

Page Count: 424
Illustrations: 37 photographs, 10 appendixes
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Politics and government -- 21st century.
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Social conditions -- 21st century.
  • African Americans -- History -- 1877-1964.
  • African Americans -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
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