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Black Political Organizations in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Black Political Organizations in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Ollie A. Johnson
Karin L. Stanford
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Black Political Organizations in the Post-Civil Rights Era
    Book Description:

    We know a great deal about civil rights organizations during the 1960s, but relatively little about black political organizations since that decade. Questions of focus, accountability, structure, and relevance have surrounded these groups since the modern Civil Rights Movement ended in 1968. Political scientists Ollie A. Johnson III and Karin L. Stanford have assembled a group of scholars who examine the leadership, membership, structure, goals, ideology, activities, accountability, and impact of contemporary black political organizations and their leaders. Questions considered are: How have these organizations adapted to the changing sociopolitical and economic environment? What ideological shifts, if any, have occurred within each one? What issues are considered important to black political groups and what strategies are used to implement their agendas? The contributors also investigate how these organizations have adapted to changes within the black community and American society as a whole.Organizations covered include well-known ones such as the NAACP, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Urban League, and the Congress of Racial Equality, as well as organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. Religious groups, including black churches and the Nation of Islam, are also considered.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4701-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Ollie A. Johnson III and Karin L. Stanford
  5. Introduction: The Relevance of Black Political Organizations in the Post–Civil Rights Era
    (pp. 1-13)
    Ollie A. Johnson III and Karin L. Stanford

    Prior to the 1960s most African Americans were denied their basic civil and human rights. The right to vote, the right to protest peacefully, the right to a fair trial, the right to live without fear of state violence, and the rights to live, work, study, and travel were routinely violated by government officials and their allies. The success of the Civil Rights Movement changed that reality and led to important socioeconomic and political changes in the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and related legislation created more opportunities for African Americans...

  6. One Will the Circle Be Unbroken? The Political Involvement of Black Churches since the 1960s
    (pp. 14-27)
    Allison Calhoun-Brown

    The Black church is unique among Civil Rights organizations in that it is not a single organization, nor was it founded with the express purpose of addressing racism and discrimination.Black churchis a term that aggregates all predominantly Black Christian congregations whose primary purpose is to meet the spiritual needs of their parishioners. Yet perhaps no institution has been more central to the Black community or done more to uplift the race. The fact that thousands of disparate groupings can be referenced with meaning as a single unit is a testament to the integral role that the church has...

  7. Two The NAACP in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 28-39)
    Robert C. Smith

    In recent years a number of Black scholars have questioned both the effectiveness and the relevance of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the continuing struggle for racial justice in the United States, arguing that in its organizational structure, programs, and strategies the group is out of touch with the complex realities of race in the post–Civil Rights era.¹ Criticism of the NAACP by African American scholars is of course not a new phenomenon; see, for example, Ralph Bunche’s critique during the New Deal era and Louis Lomax’s critique during the Civil Rights era.²...

  8. Three The National Urban League: Reinventing Service for the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 40-53)
    Jennifer A. Wade and Brian N. Williams

    The National Urban League (NUL) defines itself “as the premier social service and civil rights organization in America.”¹ Headquartered in New York City, this nonprofit, community-based agency has an organizational structure of over one hundred affiliates in thirty-four states and the District of Columbia and is known for its signature programs in the areas of employment, job training, housing, youth services, education, and social welfare. Current scholarly literature reveals little attention to the contributions made by this organization, its leadership, and its affiliates during the post–Civil Rights era. The following chapter provides a normative examination of the goals and...

  9. Four A Layin’ On of Hands: Black Women’s Community Work
    (pp. 54-79)
    Erika L. Gordon

    At its core this study is about the linkages between African American women, the political community work they perform in gender-specific organizations, and the development of a distinctive race- and gender-informed style of politics produced from these locations. It seeks to examine the significance of race, gender, and socioeconomic context in shaping African American women’s organizational politics in the post–Civil Rights era. Many critics and scholars of African American politics have observed that the post–Civil Rights era has been characterized by a lack of popularly recognized African American leadership and clearly defined and communicated objectives for group economic,...

  10. Five From Protest to Black Conservatism: The Demise of the Congress of Racial Equality
    (pp. 80-98)
    Charles E. Jones

    The tribute in honor of the late James Farmer held in Washington, D.C., on September 10, 1999, underscored the Congress of Racial Equality’s (CORE) historic role in the struggle for African American equality.¹ CORE, cofounded by Farmer in 1942, was a forerunner to the nonviolent, direct-action Civil Rights Movement that successfully dismantled de jure segregation in the 1960s. A decade before the 1955 Martin Luther King Jr.–led Montgomery bus boycott, CORE activists systematically employed an array of protest tactics challenging racial discrimination in the nation’s northern cities. In May 1961 CORE launched the legendary Freedom Rides, which confronted Jim...

  11. Six “You’re Not Ready for Farrakhan”: The Nation of Islam and the Struggle for Black Political Leadership, 1984–2000
    (pp. 99-131)
    Claude A. Clegg III

    October 16, 1995, was a clear, radiant day in Washington, D.C. As the morning sun arced against an azure sky, tens of thousands of people, predominantly African American and male, began assembling on the Mall in front of the Capitol Building. The occasion was the “Million Man March,” a carefully planned mass demonstration intended to dramatize the capacity of Black men to organize and gather in large numbers as well as their potential as a progressive social force and political constituency. Additionally, the event was billed as a day of atonement and reconciliation, an opportunity for African American men to...

  12. Seven The Southern Christian Leadership Conference: Beyond the Civil Rights Movement
    (pp. 132-149)
    F. Carl Walton

    The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was founded in 1957 in Atlanta, Georgia. Like other civil rights groups, the SCLC was established to improve the political and social conditions of Black Americans. The SCLC is characterized by its use of nonviolent direct action. This method was manifested predominately through marches that were organized to protest segregated facilities throughout the southern United States. It was supplemented in the early 1960s by the sit-in movement, which was orchestrated mostly by college students who ultimately organized to become the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

    In the post–Civil Rights era the SCLC has...

  13. Eight Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition: Institutionalizing Economic Opportunity
    (pp. 150-169)
    Karin L. Stanford

    The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Wall Street Project, launched on January 15, 1997, represents Rev. Jesse Jackson’s effort to promote economic inclusion.¹ Its purpose is to create new opportunities for African Americans and other minorities in corporate America and on Wall Street. The project’s objectives include expanding minority access to capital; urging corporate America to become trading partners with African Americans, Hispanics, and other disadvantaged groups; building investment vehicles to close the vast wealth disparities in the United States; and fighting for greater diversity in senior-level management in American corporations.

    The Wall Street Project is not the first economic initiative led by...

  14. Nine “We Refused to Lay Down Our Spears”: The Persistence of Welfare Rights Activism, 1966–1996
    (pp. 170-192)
    Todd C. Shaw

    By the time President Bill Clinton left office in January 2001, he had made good on his campaign pledge to “end welfare as we know it,” even though few critics and supporters actually thought he would dismantle the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. What had been a New Deal entitlement for poor women and children became a Republican-inspired “block grant” that devolved much of the old program’s federal discretion to the states. Underlying this overhaul of the American welfare system and this drastic shift away from a federal guarantee to the poor was a view long in...

  15. Ten Black Political Leadership in the Post–Civil Rights Era
    (pp. 193-201)
    Akwasi B. Assensoh and Yvette Alex-Assensoh

    An examination of the history of Black people in America invokes more than 350 years of slavery, overt discrimination, segregation, and institutional racism.¹ It also reveals the indefatigable strength of Black people and their enduring political leadership.² At the same time, poverty statistics demonstrate a widening gulf between middle-class and poor Blacks, most of whom are falling daily into a chasm of economic despair and social isolation.³ Moreover, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’sBrown v. Board of Educationruling of May 17, 1954, which rendered the tainted notion of separate but equal educational facilities unconstitutional, Black children still languish in...

  16. Eleven Where Do We Go from Here? Facing the Challenges of the Post–Civil Rights Era
    (pp. 202-216)
    Valerie C. Johnson

    As a critique of Black politics in the post–Civil Rights era, the preceding chapters address numerous factors that challenge the effectiveness of Black political organizations. Key to this assessment is the general acknowledgment that Black political organizations and institutions have been constrained in their ability to promote lasting solutions to the problems affecting Black people, particularly the urban poor. As a result, despite the major successes of the Civil Rights Movement (the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965), many Blacks face serious difficulties. An examination of any socioeconomic indicator would confirm this conclusion....

  17. Notes
    (pp. 217-248)
  18. Contributors
    (pp. 249-252)
  19. Index
    (pp. 253-264)