The University Press of Kentucky

Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century

Steven F. Lawson & Cynthia G. Fleming

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

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Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century

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After the Dream

Black and White Southerners since 1965

Timothy J. Minchin and John A. Salmond

Martin Luther King’s 1965 address from Montgomery, Alabama, the center of much racial conflict at the time and the location of the well-publicized bus boycott a decade earlier, is often considered by historians to be the culmination of the civil rights era in American history. In his momentous speech, King declared that segregation was “on its deathbed” and that the movement had already achieved significant milestones. Although the civil rights movement had won many battles in the struggle for racial equality by the mid-1960s, including legislation to guarantee black voting rights and to desegregate public accommodations, the fight to implement the new laws was just starting. In reality, King’s speech in Montgomery represented a new beginning rather than a conclusion to the movement, a fact that King acknowledged in the address. After the Dream: Black and White Southerners since 1965 begins where many histories of the civil rights movement end, with King’s triumphant march from the iconic battleground of Selma to Montgomery. Timothy J. Minchin and John Salmond focus on events in the South following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. After the Dream examines the social, economic, and political implications of these laws in the decades following their passage, discussing the empowerment of black southerners, white resistance, accommodation and acceptance, and the nation’s political will. The book also provides a fascinating history of the often-overlooked period of race relations during the presidential administrations of Ford, Carter, Reagan, and both George H. W. and George W. Bush. Ending with the election of President Barack Obama, this study will influence contemporary historiography on the civil rights movement.

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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.

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Becoming King

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Making of a National Leader

Troy Jackson. introduction by Clayborne Carson

“The history books may write it Reverend King was born in Atlanta, and then came to Montgomery, but we feel that he was born in Montgomery in the struggle here, and now he is moving to Atlanta for bigger responsibilities.”—Member of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, November 1959 Preacher—this simple term describes the twenty-five-year-old Ph.D. in theology who arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, to become the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1954. His name was Martin Luther King Jr., but where did this young minister come from? What did he believe, and what role would he play in the growing activism of the civil rights movement of the 1950s? In Becoming King: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Making of a National Leader, author Troy Jackson chronicles King’s emergence and effectiveness as a civil rights leader by examining his relationship with the people of Montgomery, Alabama. Using the sharp lens of Montgomery’s struggle for racial equality to investigate King’s burgeoning leadership, Jackson explores King’s ability to connect with the educated and the unlettered, professionals and the working class. In particular, Jackson highlights King’s alliances with Jo Ann Robinson, a young English professor at Alabama State University; E. D. Nixon, a middle-aged Pullman porter and head of the local NAACP chapter; and Virginia Durr, a courageous white woman who bailed Rosa Parks out of jail after Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white person. Jackson offers nuanced portrayals of King’s relationships with these and other civil rights leaders in the community to illustrate King’s development within the community. Drawing on countless interviews and archival sources, Jackson compares King’s sermons and religious writings before, during, and after the Montgomery bus boycott. Jackson demonstrates how King’s voice and message evolved during his time in Montgomery, reflecting the shared struggles, challenges, experiences, and hopes of the people with whom he worked. Many studies of the civil rights movement end analyses of Montgomery’s struggle with the conclusion of the bus boycott and the establishment of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Jackson surveys King’s uneasy post-boycott relations with E. D. Nixon and Rosa Parks, shedding new light on Parks’s plight in Montgomery after the boycott and revealing the internal discord that threatened the movement’s hard-won momentum. The controversies within the Montgomery Improvement Association compelled King to position himself as a national figure who could rise above the quarrels within the movement and focus on attaining its greater goals. Though the Montgomery struggle thrust King into the national spotlight, the local impact on the lives of blacks from all socioeconomic classes was minimal at the time. As the citizens of Montgomery awaited permanent change, King left the city, taking the lessons he learned there onto the national stage. In the crucible of Montgomery, Martin Luther King Jr. was transformed from an inexperienced Baptist preacher into a civil rights leader of profound national importance.

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The Chicago Freedom Movement

Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North

edited by Mary Lou Finley, Bernard LaFayette Jr., James R. Ralph Jr., and Pam Smith. foreword by Clayborne Carson

Six months after the Selma to Montgomery marches and just weeks after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a group from Martin Luther King Jr.'s staff arrived in Chicago, eager to apply his nonviolent approach to social change in a northern city. Once there, King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) joined the locally based Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) to form the Chicago Freedom Movement. The open housing demonstrations they organized eventually resulted in a controversial agreement with Mayor Richard J. Daley and other city leaders, the fallout of which has historically led some to conclude that the movement was largely ineffective.

In this important volume, an eminent team of scholars and activists offer an alternative assessment of the Chicago Freedom Movement's impact on race relations and social justice, both in the city and across the nation. Building upon recent works, the contributors reexamine the movement and illuminate its lasting contributions in order to challenge conventional perceptions that have underestimated its impressive legacy.

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Civil Rights Crossroads

Nation, Community, and the Black Freedom Struggle

Steven F. Lawson

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.

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Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South

Louisville, Kentucky, 1945-1980

Tracy E. K'Meyer

Situated on the banks of the Ohio River, Louisville, Kentucky, represents a cultural and geographical intersection of North and South. Throughout its history, Louisville has simultaneously displayed northern and southern characteristics in its race relations. In their struggles against racial injustice in the mid-twentieth century, activists in Louisville crossed racial, economic, and political dividing lines to form a wide array of alliances not seen in other cities of its size. In Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 1945–1980, noted historian Tracy E. K’Meyer provides the first comprehensive look at the distinctive elements of Louisville’s civil rights movement. K’Meyer frames her groundbreaking analysis by defining a border as a space where historical patterns and social concerns overlap. From this vantage point, she argues that broad coalitions of Louisvillians waged long-term, interconnected battles during the city’s civil rights movement. K’Meyer shows that Louisville’s border city dynamics influenced both its racial tensions and its citizens’ approaches to change. Unlike African Americans in southern cities, Louisville’s black citizens did not face entrenched restrictions against voting and other forms of civic engagement. Louisville schools were integrated relatively peacefully in 1956, long before their counterparts in the Deep South. However, the city bore the marks of Jim Crow segregation in public accommodations until the 1960s. Louisville joined other southern cities that were feeling the heat of racial tensions, primarily during open housing and busing conflicts (more commonly seen in the North) in the late 1960s and 1970s. In response to Louisville’s unique blend of racial problems, activists employed northern models of voter mobilization and lobbying, as well as methods of civil disobedience usually seen in the South. They crossed traditional barriers between the movements for racial and economic justice to unite in common action. Borrowing tactics from their neighbors to the north and south, Louisville citizens merged their concerns and consolidated their efforts to increase justice and fairness in their border city. By examining this unique convergence of activist methods, Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South provides a better understanding of the circumstances that unified the movement across regional boundaries.

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Constructing Affirmative Action

The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity

David Hamilton Golland

Between 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson defined affirmative action as a legitimate federal goal, and 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon named one of affirmative action’s chief antagonists the head of the Department of Labor, government officials at all levels addressed racial economic inequality in earnest. Providing members of historically disadvantaged groups an equal chance at obtaining limited and competitive positions, affirmative action had the potential to alienate large numbers of white Americans, even those who had viewed school desegregation and voting rights in a positive light. Thus, affirmative action was—and continues to be—controversial. Novel in its approach and meticulously researched, David Hamilton Golland’s Constructing Affirmative Action: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity bridges a sizeable gap in the literature on the history of affirmative action. Golland examines federal efforts to diversify the construction trades from the 1950s through the 1970s, offering valuable insights into the origins of affirmative action–related policy. Constructing Affirmative Action analyzes how community activism pushed the federal government to address issues of racial exclusion and marginalization in the construction industry with programs in key American cities.

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Democracy Rising

South Carolina and the Fight for Black Equality since 1865

Peter F. Lau

Considered by many historians to be the birthplace of the Confederacy, South Carolina experienced one of the longest and most turbulent Reconstruction periods of all the southern states. After the Civil War, white supremacist leadership in the state fiercely resisted the efforts of freed slaves to secure full citizenship rights and to remake society based upon an expansive vision of freedom forged in slavery and the crucible of war. Despite numerous obstacles, African Americans achieved remarkable social and political advances in the ten years following the war, including the establishment of the state's first publicly-funded school system and health care for the poor. Through their efforts, the state's political process and social fabric became more democratic.

Peter F. Lau traces the civil rights movement in South Carolina from Reconstruction through the early twenty-first century. He stresses that the movement was shaped by local, national, and international circumstances in which individuals worked to redefine and expand the meaning and practice of democracy beyond the borders of their own state. Contrary to recent scholars who separate civil rights claims from general calls for economic justice, Lau asserts that African American demands for civil rights have been inseparable from broader demands for a redistribution of social and economic power. Using the tension between rights possession and rights application as his organizing theme, Lau fundamentally revises our understanding of the civil rights movement in America.

In addition to considering South Carolina's pivotal role in the national civil rights movement, Lau offers a comprehensive analysis of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during the height of its power and influence, from 1910 through the years following Brown v. Board of Education (1954). During this time, the NAACP worked to ensure the rights guaranteed to African Americans by the 14th and 15th amendments and facilitated the emergence of a broad-based movement that included many of the nation's rural and most marginalized people.

By examining events that occurred in South Carolina and the impact of the activities of the NAACP, Democracy Rising upends traditional interpretations of the civil rights movement in America. In their place, Lau offers an innovative way to understand the struggle for black equality by tracing the movement of people, institutions, and ideas across boundaries of region, nation, and identity. Ultimately, the book illustrates how conflicts caused by the state's history of racial exclusion and discrimination continue to shape modern society.

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The Dream Is Lost

Voting Rights and the Politics of Race in Richmond, Virginia

Julian Maxwell Hayter

Once the capital of the Confederacy and the industrial hub of slave-based tobacco production, Richmond, Virginia has been largely overlooked in the context of twentieth century urban and political history. By the early 1960s, the city served as an important center for integrated politics, as African Americans fought for fair representation and mobilized voters in order to overcome discriminatory policies. Richmond's African Americans struggled to serve their growing communities in the face of unyielding discrimination. Yet, due to their dedication to strengthening the Voting Rights Act of 1965, African American politicians held a city council majority by the late 1970s.

In The Dream Is Lost, Julian Maxwell Hayter describes more than three decades of national and local racial politics in Richmond and illuminates the unintended consequences of civil rights legislation. He uses the city's experience to explain the political abuses that often accompany American electoral reforms and explores the arc of mid-twentieth-century urban history. In so doing, Hayter not only reexamines the civil rights movement's origins, but also seeks to explain the political, economic, and social implications of the freedom struggle following the major legislation of the 1960s.

Hayter concludes his study in the 1980s and follows black voter mobilization to its rational conclusion -- black empowerment and governance. However, he also outlines how Richmond's black majority council struggled to the meet the challenges of economic forces beyond the realm of politics. The Dream Is Lost vividly illustrates the limits of political power, offering an important view of an underexplored aspect of the post--civil rights era.

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Faith in Black Power

Religion, Race, and Resistance in Cairo, Illinois

Kerry Pimblott

In 1969, nineteen-year-old Robert Hunt was found dead in the Cairo, Illinois, police station. The white authorities ruled the death a suicide, but many members of the African American community believed that Hunt had been murdered -- a sentiment that sparked rebellions and protests across the city. Cairo suddenly emerged as an important battleground for black survival in America and became a focus for many civil rights groups, including the NAACP. The United Front, a black power organization founded and led by Reverend Charles Koen, also mobilized -- thanks in large part to the support of local Christian congregations. In this vital reassessment of the impact of religion on the black power movement , Kerry Pimblott presents a nuanced discussion of the ways in which black churches supported and shaped the United Front. She deftly challenges conventional narratives of the de-Christianization of the movement, revealing that Cairoites embraced both old-time religion and revolutionary thought. Not only did the faithful fund the mass direct-action strategies of the United Front, but activists also engaged the literature on black theology, invited theologians to speak at their rallies, and sent potential leaders to train at seminaries. Pimblott also investigates the impact of female leaders on the organization and their influence on young activists, offering new perspectives on the hypermasculine image of black power.

Based on extensive primary research, this groundbreaking book contributes to and complicates the history of the black freedom struggle in America. It not only adds a new element to the study of African American religion but also illuminates the relationship between black churches and black politics during this tumultuous era.

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