In Sitting In and Speaking Out, Jeffrey A. Turner
examines student movements in the South to grasp the nature of
activism in the region during the turbulent 1960s.
Turner argues that the story of student activism is too often
focused on national groups like Students for a Democratic Society
and events at schools like Columbia University and the University
of California at Berkeley. Examining the activism of black and
white students, he shows that the South responded to national
developments but that the response had its own trajectory-one that
was rooted in race. Turner looks at such events as the initial
desegregation of campuses; integration's long aftermath, as
students learned to share institutions; the Black Power movement;
and the antiwar movement.
Escalating protest against the Vietnam War tested southern
distinctiveness, says Turner. The South's tendency toward
hawkishness impeded antiwar activism, but once that activism
arrived, it was-as in other parts of the country-oriented toward
events at national and global scales. Nevertheless, southern
student activism retained some of its core characteristics. Even in
the late 1960s, southern protesters' demands tended toward reform,
often eschewing calls to revolution increasingly heard elsewhere.
Based on primary research at more than twenty public and private
institutions in the deep and upper South, including historically
black schools, Sitting In and Speaking Out is a
wide-ranging and sensitive portrait of southern students navigating
a remarkably dynamic era.
Subjects: History, Political Science, Education
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