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Revolutionaries to Race Leaders

Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Revolutionaries to Race Leaders
    Book Description:

    Exploring the major political and intellectual currents from the Black Power era to the present, Cedric Johnson reveals how black political life conformed to liberal democratic capitalism and how the movement’s most radical aims were eclipsed by more moderate aspirations. Documenting the historical retreat from democratic struggle, Revolutionaries to Race Leaders ultimately calls for the renewal of popular resistance and class-conscious politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5373-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Note on Usage
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Introduction: All Power to the People?
    (pp. xix-xl)

    In early June 1966, James Meredith began his March Against Fear, a 220-mile hike down Highway 51 from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi. This route would take the lone marcher through some of the most doggedly segregationist counties in the South. An activist who integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962, Meredith hoped that this courageous act against one of the last bastions of Jim Crow segregation would inspire others to take progressive action. On the second day of the march, however, he was shot in an ambush. Following his shooting, Meredith’s procession was taken up by a mix of...


    • 1 The “Negro Revolution” and Cold War America: Revolutionary Politics and Racial Conservatism in the Work of Harold Cruse
      (pp. 3-41)

      In his 1968New York Review of Booksessay on Harold Cruse’sThe Crisis of the Negro Intellectualand a handful of other relevant books on Black Power, Christopher Lasch asserted that “When all the manifestoes and polemics of the Sixties are forgotten, this book will survive as a monument of historical analysis— a notable contribution to understanding the American past.”¹ Lasch was only partially right. Cruse’s work had a profound impact on African American public debate during the sixties and beyond, but not as a “monument of historical analysis.” Instead, his highly polemical reading of twentieth-century African American political...

    • 2 Return of the Native: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), the New Nationalism, and Black Power Politics
      (pp. 42-82)

      Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) is arguably the most significant African American intellectual of the late twentieth century. His voluminous body of artistic work includes poetry, prose, drama, and visual arts and spans over four decades—from the heyday of the fifties Beat generation through the Black Arts movement and into the early twenty-first century. Even his toughest critics openly acknowledge Baraka’s tremendous influence. Commenting on the younger generation of sixties black radicals, Harold Cruse inThe Crisis of the Negro Intellectualconcluded, “[o]ne of the most outstanding among them, Jones, learned in such a personal way to epitomize within himself...


    • 3 The Convention Strategy and Conventional Politics: The 1972 Gary Convention and the Limits of Racial Unity
      (pp. 85-130)

      In his proto-Black Power rhetoric,Malcolm X asserted that the commonality of racial oppression mediated all other social or idiosyncratic differences among African Americans. In his “Message to the Grassroots” speech, he argued:

      What you and I need to do is to learn to forget our differences. When we come together, we don’t come together as Baptists or Methodists . . . You don’t catch hell because you’re a Methodist or a Baptists, you don’t catch hell because you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you don’t catch hell because you’re a Mason or an Elk and you sure don’t catch hell...

    • 4 From Popular Anti-Imperialism to Sectarianism: The African Liberation Day Mobilizations and Radical Intellectuals
      (pp. 131-172)

      Though commonly neglected in discussions of African American influence over U.S. relations with Africa, the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC) made an indelible impact on American public consciousness of African politics and U.S. state policy toward the continent during the 1970s. Like the National Black Political Assembly (NBPA) and the Congress of African Peoples (CAP), ALSC was an attempt to develop an institutional space for black oppositional politics. At various historical moments, blacks in the western hemisphere have marshaled their resources and political clout to influence the shape of modern Africa. The African Liberation Support Committee efforts were in some...

    • 5 Radical Departures: The National Black Political Assembly, the National Black Independent Political Party, and the Struggle for Alternatives
      (pp. 173-216)

      The year 1980 marked a critical turning point in the history of the National Black Assembly, an organization established at the 1972 Gary Convention as a continuations apparatus and, some hoped, the beginnings of an independent political party. In the eight years after Gary, activists habitually tabled party formation. In 1976, the organization attempted to draft a prominent black politician to run for president, but was unsuccessful. Calls for a black political party gained momentum in 1979 within the context of high inflation, Ronald Reagan’s neoconservative presidential campaign, and the embattled Democratic presidency of James “Jimmy” Carter. The 1980 election...

  9. Conclusion: The Ends of Black Politics
    (pp. 217-230)

    The demand for Black Power arose as a challenge to liberal democracy. The landmark civil rights reforms enacted under the Johnson administration helped to close a long chapter of legal segregation in American life, but the problems facing African Americans could not be resolved solely through the assurance of formal constitutional protections. Black Power radicals demanded meaningful selfdetermination—the power to decide one’s political and economic destiny. For some, this meant controlling local government, antipoverty programs, public schools, businesses, and other institutions that organized black life. Taking aim at Western historiography and deep-seat racist assumptions in American culture, many black...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 231-280)
  11. Index
    (pp. 281-294)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-295)