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History > U.S. History > 20th Century

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An Army of Lions Cover

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An Army of Lions

The Civil Rights Struggle Before the NAACP

Shawn Leigh Alexander

"An Army of Lions is a stunning and heroic work of research about one of the great 'origins' stories of American history. With remarkable originality, Alexander illuminates the grassroots civil rights organizations, leadership, and strategies in the nineteenth century, well before we typically think about those efforts. In the hands of this very talented historian, we see that T. Thomas Fortune and others struggled with the same questions that occupied the later generations of Du Bois and King. This is a scholarly achievement of the first order, with wide social and political implications today."--David W. Blight, author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era "With impressive detail, An Army of Lions documents a complex era in African American politics during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Alexander offers readers invaluable insights into how African American activists responded to the rising violence, disfranchisement, and segregation that characterized the Jim Crow era. Most importantly, he helps us to see how a broad range of early civil rights organizations were vying with one another for national leadership, political access, and mass support."--Martha S. Jones, University of Michigan In January 1890, journalist T. Thomas Fortune stood before a delegation of African American activists in Chicago and declared, "We know our rights and have the courage to defend them," as together they formed the Afro-American League, the nation's first national civil rights organization. Over the next two decades, Fortune and his fellow activists organized, agitated, and, in the process, created the foundation for the modern civil rights movement. An Army of Lions: The Civil Rights Struggle Before the NAACP traces the history of this first generation of activists and the organizations they formed to give the most comprehensive account of black America's struggle for civil rights from the end of Reconstruction to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. Here a host of leaders neglected by posterity--Bishop Alexander Walters, Mary Church Terrell, Jesse Lawson, Lewis G. Jordan, Kelly Miller, George H. White, Frederick McGhee, Archibald Grimké--worked alongside the more familiar figures of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington, who are viewed through a fresh lens. As Jim Crow curtailed modes of political protest and legal redress, members of the Afro-American League and the organizations that formed in its wake--including the Afro-American Council, the Niagara Movement, the Constitution League, and the Committee of Twelve--used propaganda, moral suasion, boycotts, lobbying, electoral office, and the courts, as well as the call for self-defense, to end disfranchisement, segregation, and racial violence. In the process, the League and the organizations it spawned provided the ideological and strategic blueprint of the NAACP and the struggle for civil rights in the twentieth century, demonstrating that there was significant and effective agitation during "the age of accommodation." Shawn Leigh Alexander teaches African and African American studies at the University of Kansas.

Art for Equality Cover

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Art for Equality

The NAACP's Cultural Campaign for Civil Rights

Jenny Woodley

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest civil rights organization, having dedicated itself to the fight for racial equality since 1909. While the group helped achieve substantial victories in the courtroom, the struggle for civil rights extended beyond gaining political support. It also required changing social attitudes. The NAACP thus worked to alter existing prejudices through the production of art that countered racist depictions of African Americans, focusing its efforts not only on changing the attitudes of the white middle class but also on encouraging racial pride and a sense of identity in the black community.

Art for Equality explores an important and little-studied side of the NAACP's activism in the cultural realm. In openly supporting African American artists, writers, and musicians in their creative endeavors, the organization aimed to change the way the public viewed the black community. By overcoming stereotypes and the belief of the majority that African Americans were physically, intellectually, and morally inferior to whites, the NAACP believed it could begin to defeat racism.

Illuminating important protests, from the fight against the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation to the production of anti-lynching art during the Harlem Renaissance, this insightful volume examines the successes and failures of the NAACP's cultural campaign from 1910 to the 1960s. Exploring the roles of gender and class in shaping the association's patronage of the arts, Art for Equality offers an in-depth analysis of the social and cultural climate during a time of radical change in America.

Asian America Cover

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Asian America

Forming New Communities, Expanding Boundaries

Edited by Huping Ling

The last half century witnessed a dramatic change in the geographic, ethnographic, and socioeconomic structure of Asian American communities. While traditional enclaves were strengthened by waves of recent immigrants, native-born Asian Americans also created new urban and suburban areas. Asian America is the first comprehensive look at post-1960s Asian American communities in the United States and Canada. Contributors from an array of academic fields focus on global views of Asian American communities as well as on territorial and cultural boundaries.

Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest Cover

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Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest

Fifty Pieces from the Road

by Curtis Wilkie; foreword by Hank Klibanoff

Writing as a newspaper reporter for nearly forty years, Curtis Wilkie covered eight presidential campaigns, spent years in the Middle East, and traveled to a number of conflicts abroad. However, his memory keeps turning home and many of his most treasured stories transpire in the Deep South. He called his native Mississippi, “the gift that keeps on giving.” For Wilkie, it represented a trove of rogues and racists, colorful personalities and outlandish politicians who managed to thrive among people otherwise kind and generous.

Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest collects news dispatches and feature stories from the author during a journalism career that began in 1963 and lasted until 2000. As a young reporter for the Clarksdale Press Register, he wrote many articles that dealt with the civil rights movement, which dominated the news in the Mississippi Delta during the 1960s.Wilkie spent twenty-six years as a national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe. One of the original “Boys on the Bus” (the title of a best-selling book about journalists covering the 1972 presidential campaign), he later wrote extensively about the winning races of two southern Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Wilkie is known for stories reported deeply, rife with anecdotes, physical descriptions, and important background details. He writes about the notorious, such as the late Hunter S. Thompson, as well as more anonymous subjects whose stories, in his hands, have enduring interest. The anthology collects pieces about several notable southerners: Ross Barnett; Byron De La Beckwith and Sam Bowers; Billy Carter; Edwin Edwards and David Duke; Trent Lott; and Charles Evers. Wilkie brings a perceptive eye to people and events, and his eloquent storytelling represents some of the best journalistic writing.

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Astounding Wonder

Imagining Science and Science Fiction in Interwar America

By John Cheng

When physicist Robert Goddard, whose career was inspired by H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, published "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes," the response was electric. Newspaper headlines across the country announced, "Modern Jules Verne Invents Rocket to Reach Moon," while people from around the world, including two World War I pilots, volunteered as pioneers in space exploration. Though premature (Goddard's rocket, alas, was only imagined), the episode demonstrated not only science's general popularity but also its intersection with interwar popular and commercial culture. In that intersection, the stories that inspired Goddard and others became a recognizable genre: science fiction. Astounding Wonder explores science fiction's emergence in the era's "pulps," colorful magazines that shouted from the newsstands, attracting an extraordinarily loyal and active audience.

Pulps invited readers not only to read science fiction but also to participate init, joining writers and editors in celebrating a collective wonder for and investment in the potential of science. But in conjuring fantastic machines, travel across time and space, unexplored worlds, and alien foes, science fiction offered more than rousing adventure and romance. It also assuaged contemporary concerns about nation, gender, race, authority, ability, and progress—about the place of ordinary individuals within modern science and society—in the process freeing readers to debate scientific theories and implications separate from such concerns.

Readers similarly sought to establish their worth and place outside the pulps. Organizing clubs and conventions and producing their own magazines, some expanded science fiction's community and created a fan subculture separate from the professional pulp industry. Others formed societies to launch and experiment with rockets. From debating relativity and the use of slang in the future to printing purple fanzines and calculating the speed of spaceships, fans' enthusiastic industry revealed the tensions between popular science and modern science. Even as it inspired readers' imagination and activities, science fiction's participatory ethos sparked debates about amateurs and professionals that divided the worlds of science fiction in the 1930s and after.

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At Berkeley in the Sixties

The Making of an Activist

Jo J. Freeman

This book is a memoir and a history of Berkeley in the early Sixties. As a young undergraduate, Jo Freeman was a key participant in the growth of social activism at the University of California, Berkeley. The story is told with the "you are there" immediacy of Freeman the undergraduate but is put into historical and political context by Freeman the scholar, 35 years later. It draws heavily on documents created at the time -- letters, reports, interviews, memos, newspaper stories, FBI files -- but is fleshed out with retrospective analysis. As events unfold, the campus conflicts of the Sixties take on a completely different cast, one that may surprise many readers.

Babysitter Cover

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Babysitter

An American History

Miriam Forman-Brunell

On Friday nights many parents want to have a little fun together—without the kids. But “getting a sitter”—especially a dependable one—rarely seems trouble-free. Will the kids be safe with “that girl”? It's a question that discomfited parents have been asking ever since the emergence of the modern American teenage girl nearly a century ago. In Babysitter, Miriam Forman-Brunell brings critical attention to the ubiquitous, yet long-overlooked babysitter in the popular imagination and American history.

Informed by her research on the history of teenage girls' culture, Forman-Brunell analyzes the babysitter, who has embodied adults' fundamental apprehensions about girls' pursuit of autonomy and empowerment. In fact, the grievances go both ways, as girls have been distressed by unsatisfactory working conditions. In her quest to gain a fuller picture of this largely unexamined cultural phenomenon, Forman-Brunell analyzes a wealth of diverse sources, such as The Baby-sitter's Club book series, horror movies like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, urban legends, magazines, newspapers, television shows, pornography, and more.

Forman-Brunell shows that beyond the mundane, understandable apprehensions stirred by hiring a caretaker to “mind the children” in one's own home, babysitters became lightning rods for society's larger fears about gender and generational change. In the end, experts' efforts to tame teenage girls with training courses, handbooks, and other texts failed to prevent generations from turning their backs on babysitting.

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Back Channel to Cuba

The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana

William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh

Challenging the conventional wisdom of perpetual hostility between the United States and Cuba--beyond invasions, covert operations, assassination plots using poison pens and exploding seashells, and a grinding economic embargo--this fascinating book chronicles a surprising, untold history of bilateral efforts toward rapprochement and reconciliation. Since 1959, conflict and aggression have dominated the story of U.S.-Cuban relations. Now, LeoGrande and Kornbluh present a new and increasingly more relevant account. From Kennedy's offering of an olive branch to Castro after the missile crisis, to Kissinger's top secret quest for normalization, to Obama's promise of a "new approach," LeoGrande and Kornbluh reveal a fifty-year record of dialogue and negotiations, both open and furtive, indicating a path toward better relations in the future.

Baltimore '68 Cover

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Baltimore '68

Riots and Rebirth in an American City

Edited by Jessica I. Elfenbein, Thomas L. Hollowak and Elizabeth M. Nix

In 1968, Baltimore was home to a variety of ethnic, religious, and racial communities that, like those in other American cities, were confronting a quickly declining industrial base. In April of that year, disturbances broke the urban landscape along lines of race and class.

This book offers chapters on events leading up to the turmoil, the riots, and the aftermath as well as four rigorously edited and annotated oral histories of members of the Baltimore community. The combination of new scholarship and first-person accounts provides a comprehensive case study of this period of civil unrest four decades later.

This engaging, broad-based public history lays bare the diverse experiences of 1968 and their effects, emphasizing the role of specific human actions. By reflecting on the stories and analysis presented in this anthology, readers may feel empowered to pursue informed, responsible civic action of their own.

Baltimore '68 is the book component of a larger public history project, "Baltimore '68 Riots: Riots and Rebirth." The project's companion website (http://archives.ubalt.edu/bsr/index.html ) offers many more oral histories plus photos, art, and links to archival sources. The book and the website together make up an invaluable teaching resource on cities, social unrest, and racial politics in the 1960s. The project was the corecipient of the 2009 Outstanding Public History Project Award from the National Council on Public History.

A Band of Noble Women Cover

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A Band of Noble Women

Racial Politics in the Women's Peace Movement

Melinda Plastas

A Band of Noble Women brings together the histories of the women’s peace movement and the black women’s club and social reform movement in a story of community and consciousness building between the world wars. Believing that achievement of improved race relations was a central step in establishing world peace, African American and white women initiated new political alliances that challenged the practices of Jim Crow segregation and promoted the leadership of women in transnational politics. Under the auspices of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), they united the artistic agenda of the Harlem Renaissance, suffrage-era organizing tactics, and contemporary debates on race in their efforts to expand women’s influence on the politics of war and peace. Plastas shows how WILPF espoused middle-class values and employed gendered forms of organization building, educating thousands of people on issues ranging from U.S. policies in Haiti and Liberia to the need for global disarmament. Highlighting WILPF chapters in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Baltimore, the author examines the successes of this interracial movement as well as its failures. A Band of Noble Women enables us to examine more fully the history of race in U.S. women’s movements and illuminates the role of the women’s peace movement in setting the foundation for the civil rights movement

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