Pub. Date:
New York University Press
Groundwork: Local Black Freedom Movements in America / Edition 1

Groundwork: Local Black Freedom Movements in America / Edition 1

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Over the last several years, the traditional narrative of the civil rights movement as largely a southern phenomenon, organized primarily by male leaders, that roughly began with the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and ended with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, has been complicated by studies that root the movement in smaller communities across the country. These local movements had varying agendas and organizational development, geared to the particular circumstances, resources, and regions in which they operated. Local civil rights activists frequently worked in tandem with the national civil rights movement but often functioned autonomously from—and sometimes even at odds with—the national movement.

Together, the pathbreaking essays in Groundwork teach us that local civil rights activity was a vibrant component of the larger civil rights movement, and contributed greatly to its national successes. Individually, the pieces offer dramatic new insights about the civil rights movement, such as the fact that a militant black youth organization in Milwaukee was led by a white Catholic priest and in Cambridge, Maryland, by a middle-aged black woman; that a group of middle-class, professional black women spearheaded Jackson, Mississippi's movement for racial justice and made possible the continuation of the Freedom Rides, and that, despite protests from national headquarters, the Brooklyn chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality staged a dramatic act of civil disobedience at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.

No previous volume has enabled readers to examine several different local movements together, and in so doing, Groundwork forges a far more comprehensive vision of the black freedom movement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814782859
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2005
Pages: 344
Sales rank: 236,337
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jeanne Theoharis is distinguished Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of numerous books and articles on the black freedom struggle, including the award-winning The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (Beacon Press, 2013) and most recently A More Beautiful and Terrible History (Beacon Press, 2018).

Komozi Woodard is Professor of American History, Public Policy, and Africana Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and author of A Nation within a Nation: Amiri Baraka and Black Power Politics.

Charles M. Payne is Sally Dalton Robinson Professor of African American studies, History and Sociology at Duke University. He is the author of the prize-winning I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.

Table of Contents

“They Told Us Our Kids Were Stupid”: Ruth Batson & the Educational Movement in Boston
“Drive Awhile for Freedom”: Brooklyn CORE’s Stall-In & Public Discourses on Protest Violence
Message from the Grassroots: The Black Power Experiment in Newark
Gloria Richardson & the Civil Rights Movement in Cambridge
We’ve Come a Long Way: Septima Clark, the Warings, & the Changing Civil Rights Movement
Organizing for More Than the Vote: The Political Radicalization of Local People in Lowndes County
“God’s Appointed Savior”: Charles Evers’s Use of Local Movements for National Stature
Local Women & the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi: Re-visioning Woman power Unlimited
The Stirrings of the Modern Civil Rights Movement in Cincinnati
“We Cannot Wait for Understanding to Come to Us”: Community Activists Respond to Violence at Detroit’s Northwestern High School
“Not a Color, but an Attitude”: Father James Groppi and Black Power Politics in Milwaukee
Practical Internationalists: The Story of the Des Moines, Black Panther Party
Inside the Panther Revolution: The Black Freedom Movement and the Black Panther Party in Oakland
About the Contributors

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher


“The thirteen essays in this important collection examine grass-roots struggles for racial justice throughout the United States from 1940-1980...Read together, these essays remind us that activism changes people as much as society.”
-Journal of American History


“The essays in Groundwork assert individually and collectively that at the root of any national movement for change are local activists working from the bottom up to change their communities first, then the world. This excellent and invigorating collection is crucial reading in an election year.”
-Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,Director, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, and author of America Behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans

“A major contribution to the ever expanding historical literature of the modern African American freedom struggle. This book brings together outstanding examples of detailed and thoughtful studies of northern as well as southern local movements.”
-Clayborne Carson,Professor of History and Director, Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, Stanford University

“Brilliantly conveys the vibrancy and creativity of community-based movements that transformed America's racial and civic landscape in the decades following World War II.”-Patricia Sullivan,author of Freedom Writer: Virginia Foster Durr, Letters from the Civil Rights Years

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