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Toward Freedom Land

Toward Freedom Land: The Long Struggle for Racial Equality in America

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Toward Freedom Land
    Book Description:

    The ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice lies at the heart of America's evolving identity. The pursuit of equal rights is often met with social and political trepidation, forcing citizens and leaders to grapple with controversial issues of race, class, and gender. Renowned scholar Harvard Sitkoff has devoted his life to the study of the civil rights movement, becoming a key figure in global human rights discussions and an authority on American liberalism.

    Toward Freedom Landassembles Sitkoff 's writings on twentieth-century race relations, representing some of the finest race-related historical research on record. Spanning thirty-five years of Sitkoff 's distingushed career, the collection features an in-depth examination of the Great Depression and its effects on African Americans, the intriguing story of the labor movement and its relationship to African American workers, and a discussion of the effects of World War II on the civil rights movement. His precise analysis illuminates multifaceted racial issues including the New Deal's impact on race relations, the Detroit Riot of 1943, and connections between African Americans, Jews, and the Holocaust.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7380-1
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    In the pages that follow I have assembled a selection of my essays on the “long” black freedom struggle. Written over the course of five decades, they exemplify my sustained interest in a cluster of themes associated with the struggle for racial justice and equality.

    In rereading these essays for inclusion in this book, I was sorely tempted to tidy up some of the prose, temper or amplify a few arguments, revise an outdated perspective, and generally make use of the wonderful scholarship on race done in the recent past. In part, because too many books of essays with the...

  5. The Preconditions for Racial Change
    (pp. 11-20)

    Of the interrelated causes of progress in race relations since the start of the Great Depression, none was more important than the changes in the American economy. No facet of the race problem was untouched by the elephantine growth of the gross national product, which rose from $206 billion in 1940 to $500 billion in 1960, and then in the 1960s increased by an additional 60 percent. By 1970, the economy topped the trillion-dollar mark. This spectacular rate of economic growth produced some 25 million new jobs in the quarter of a century after World War II and raised real...

  6. The New Deal and Race Relations
    (pp. 21-42)

    Perhaps no aspect of the New Deal appears more anomalous or paradoxical than the relationship of Afro-Americans and the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. On the one hand are the facts of pervasive racial discrimination and inequity in the recovery and relief programs, coupled with the evasiveness of New Dealers on civil rights issues. On the other hand, there is the adoration of FDR by blacks and the huge voting switch of Afro-Americans from the party of Lincoln to the Roosevelt coalition between 1932 and 1940. Faced with this enigma, some historians have concluded that Roosevelt gulled blacks in the...

  7. The Detroit Race Riot of 1943
    (pp. 43-64)

    For the American Negro, World War II began a quarter of a century of increasing hope and frustration. After a long decade of depression, the war promised a better deal. Negroes confidently expected a crusade against Nazi racism and for the Four Freedoms, a battle requiring the loyalty and manpower of all Americans, to be the turning point for their race. This war would be “Civil War II,” a “Double V” campaign. No Negro leader urged his people to suspend grievances until victory was won, as most did during World War I. Rather, the government’s need for full cooperation from...

  8. Racial Militancy and Interracial Violence in the Second World War
    (pp. 65-92)

    World War II opened a quarter of a century of increasing hope and frustration for the black man. After a decade of depression, the ideological character of the war and the government’s need for the loyalty and manpower of all Americans led blacks to expect a better deal from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. With a near unanimity rare in the Negro community, civil rights groups joined with the Negro press and influential, church, labor, and political leaders to demand “Democracy in Our Time!”¹ Individuals and organizations never before involved in a protest movement found it respectable, even expedient, to be...

  9. African American Militancy in the World War II South: Another Perspective
    (pp. 93-128)

    It is now commonplace to emphasize the Second World War as a watershed in the African American freedom struggle, as a time of mass black militancy, and as the direct precursor to the civil rights protest movement of the late 1950s and 1960s. Even most textbooks today dramatize the wartime bitterness of African American protests against racial discrimination in the defense industry and the military and highlight the phenomenal growth of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the beginnings of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which practiced directaction civil disobedience to desegregate places of...

  10. Willkie as Liberal: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
    (pp. 129-146)

    There is little agreement among historians and biographers of Wendell Willkie as to why he became one of the most ardent, outspoken champions of civil rights and civil liberties of his era. Some attribute his concern for the underdog to the influence of his mother, Henrietta Trisch Willkie, the first woman admitted to the Indiana bar and a fiercely independent battler for her beliefs. Some stress the importance of his father, Herman, Elwood’s legal defender of the controversial and unorthodox, a lover of justice and pro-Bryan Democrat who had once joined the Socialist Party. And some see the roots of...

  11. African Americans, American Jews, and the Holocaust
    (pp. 147-174)

    African Americans and Jewish Americans have together journeyed a long, twisted path of enmities and empathies. Jews who currently oppose black goals as well as those who bemoan the dissolution of the civil rights alliance each have their antecedents to emulate, much as anti-Semitic African Americans and blacks who decry such prejudice each have their precedents to employ. Their joint, disjointed history points in no single direction. Today the media trumpet the views of African Americans praising Adolf Hitler or those claiming for themselves a greater victimization than that suffered by Jews during what we now call the Holocaust.* Today...

  12. Harry Truman and the Election of 1948: The Coming of Age of Civil Rights in American Politics
    (pp. 175-196)

    A year before the national election of 1948 Clark M. Clifford, an administrative assistant and special counsel to the president, presented a forty-three-page confidential memorandum to Harry S. Truman. The memo, referred to as “The Politics of 1948,” suggested the electoral strategy for Truman in the upcoming election. Clifford particularly emphasized the importance of the Negro vote, warning that because of Henry A. Wallace’s growing identification with the civil rights issue and Thomas E. Dewey’s presumed popularity with Negro leaders, as well as the Republican policy of embarrassing the Democrats by publicly favoring anti–poll tax and antilynching legislation, Truman...

  13. Martin Luther King Jr.: Seeing Lazarus, 1967–1968
    (pp. 197-214)

    Grief would shadow King’s spirit in the last year and a half of his earthly journey. In the fall of 1966, Stokely Carmichael reaped headlines, and political havoc, by increasingly portraying Black Power as a bitter rejection of both white society and King’s nonviolence and by depicting the score of ghetto riots that summer as revolutionary violence to overthrow a reactionary society. Meanwhile, capitalizing on the backlash against racial violence and “crime in the streets,” Republicans, many of them right-wing conservatives, replaced forty-seven Democratic incumbents in the House and three in the Senate. At the same time, King watched the...

  14. The Second Reconstruction
    (pp. 215-224)

    “There comes a time,” Lyndon Baines Johnson liked to say, quoting Cactus Jack Garner, “in poker and politics, when a man has to shove in all his stack.”

    For LBJ, the moment came on November 22, 1963. President Kennedy was dead. Few Americans knew what to make of his successor. To the press, the Texan was known as a wheeler-dealer with a cynical disdain for principle. He had stolen (it was rumored) his first election to the Senate. In Congress, he had frequently thwarted the aims of the Democratic Left. His dislike of the Kennedy family was plain. Now, as...

  15. Index
    (pp. 225-232)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-233)