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After the Rebellion

After the Rebellion: Black Youth, Social Movement Activism, and the Post-Civil Rights Generation

Sekou M. Franklin
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    After the Rebellion
    Book Description:

    What happened to black youth in the post-civil rights generation? What kind of causes did they rally around and were they even rallying in the first place?After the Rebelliontakes a close look at a variety of key civil rights groups across the country over the last 40 years to provide a broad view of black youth and social movement activism.Based on both research from a diverse collection of archives and interviews with youth activists, advocates, and grassroots organizers, this book examines popular mobilization among the generation of activists principally black students, youth, and young adults who came of age after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Franklin argues that the political environment in the post-Civil Rights era, along with constraints on social activism, made it particularly difficult for young black activists to start and sustain popular mobilization campaigns.Building on case studies from around the countryincluding New York, the Carolinas, California, Louisiana, and BaltimoreAfter the Rebellionexplores the inner workings and end results of activist groups such as the Southern Negro Youth Congress, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Student Organization for Black Unity, the Free South Africa Campaign, the New Haven Youth Movement, the Black Student Leadership Network, the Juvenile Justice Reform Movement, and the AFL-CIOs Union Summer campaign. Franklin demonstrates how youth-based movements and intergenerational campaigns have attempted to circumvent modern constraints, providing insight into how the very inner workings of these organizations have and have not been effective in creating change and involving youth. A powerful work of both historical and political analysis,After the Rebellionprovides a vivid explanation of what happened to the militant impulse of young people since the demobilization of the civil rights and black power movements a discussion with great implications for the study of generational politics, racial and black politics, and social movements.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6061-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Youth-based activism has been central to black political historiography in the past century. The Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC), though vastly understudied, emerged as a preeminent social movement organization in the 1930s and 1940s. In addition to mobilizing young blacks in support of civil rights and racial desegregation campaigns, the SNYC implemented economic justice initiatives for black workers in the South. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed two decades after the SNYC’s formation. SNCC quickened the pace of the civil rights movement, advanced a participatory democratic framework of community organizing, and challenged racial terrorism in southern jurisdictions. The...

  6. PART I

    • 1 Movement Activism and the Post–Civil Rights Generation
      (pp. 15-46)

      The Peoples’ Community Feeding Program was created in 1994 by a contingent of black students from Hunter College in New York City. Similar to the feeding programs created by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and 1970s, the initiative tackled malnutrition and hunger, feeding close to two hundred people each month in its Central Brooklyn neighborhood. Supported through in-kind contributions from churches and activists, the program was eventually taken over by activists affiliated with the Black Student Leadership Network (BSLN), a national organization allied with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), a prominent...

    • 2 The World beyond the Campus
      (pp. 47-70)

      When James Jackson died in September 2007 at the age of ninety-two, few contemporary activists acknowledged or understood his valuable contribution to progressive social movements, black radicalism, and the development of a black student and youth activist tradition in the twentieth century. Jackson was part of a small cadre of young black radicals who cofounded the little known, but no less important, Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC) in the late 1930s. The SNYC was a social movement organization that provided a blueprint for black student and youth organizing two decades before the student protests of the 1960s. It was instrumental...

    • 3 From Civil Rights to Anti-Apartheid
      (pp. 71-94)

      The Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC) was the most influential youth formation to emerge out of the black protest movement in the 1930s and 1940s. Its radical orientation and militant opposition to Jim Crow segregation was part of a larger wave of youth activism among black and white young people. The black protest movement would not have to wait long before the emergence of another transformational wave of student and youth activism. In the late 1950s and continuing into the mid-1970s, young African Americans participated in the most militant period of youth-based activism in the twentieth century.

      Similar to participants...

    • 4 The New Haven Youth Movement
      (pp. 95-112)

      In recent years, political observers have speculated about a potential resurgence of black youth activism in American politics. Indeed, during each presidential cycle, the prospect of a reinvigorated youth movement that attracts large numbers of young blacks and other youth of color is the subject of much debate among activists and the media. In the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, youth groups and youth-based voter mobilization organizations registered thousands of voters, including Black Youth Vote, Rock the Vote, the NAACP Youth Council, Americans Coming Together, the League of Young Voters, US Action, and a collection of hip-hop activist networks. Yet...

  7. PART II

    • 5 The Origins of the Black Student Leadership Network
      (pp. 115-141)

      A major challenge that activists and leaders of an aggrieved population encounter is the shortage or low supply of monetary resources and selective incentives to help facilitate social movement activities. The shortage of resources available to progressive organizations can limit their ability to spread collective action and sustain long-term, movement-building initiatives targeting regressive policies.² Consequently, Aldon Morris argues that aggrieved populations have come to rely upon internal resources (indigenous activists, preexisting organizations, and networks of activists) and the “mobilization capacity” of movement infrastructures in their communities to help spread collective action.³ Under such conditions, young people serve as a potential...

    • 6 Organizing for Change
      (pp. 142-182)

      When the Black Student Leadership Network (BSLN) was formed in 1991, its lead organizers wanted to develop the leadership capacity of young social and political activists, albeit within the narrow confines of the Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC), and connect them to locally based, grassroots initiatives. They also wanted to shape the BSLN into a political force that could weigh in on national policy debates concerning the black predicament and marginalized communities.

      Yet during the BSLN’s early years, as it attempted to make connections with indigenous activists, it struggled to establish a formal organizing structure that was semiautonomous of...

    • 7 The Collapse of the Black Student Leadership Network
      (pp. 183-206)

      During its short-lived tenure, the Black Student Leadership Network (BSLN), with the assistance of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and the Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC), attempted to build a mass-based social movement organization that mobilized young people for social and political action. The three groups operated in the same movement infrastructure, which had linkages to social advocates, local organizations and activists, and intellectuals throughout the country.

      Movement infrastructures consist of diverse organizations that often debate the optimum strategies that can advance their causes. They may consist of groups or activists that have more resources and organizations than other...


    • 8 Reclaiming Our Youth: Policing and Protesting Juvenile Injustice
      (pp. 209-234)

      Grover Arbuthnot was twenty-one years old when he was shot and killed in New Orleans, Louisiana. Like many youth in the city, he grew up poor, having spent most of his formative years in the St. Thomas public housing development. While still in his teens, he was arrested for armed robbery and was sent to the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth (also called the Tallulah Correctional Center for Youth). Tallulah exemplified the harsh realities of the U.S. juvenile justice system. Shortly after opening its doors in 1994, the private facility earned a reputation as one of the country’s worst maximum-security...

    • 9 We Are Labor Too
      (pp. 235-252)

      When John Sweeney was elected president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in 1995, labor movement progressives hoped his election would help recruit young people, women, and people of color into an aging and politically impotent labor movement. After his election, he began to implement many reforms within the AFL-CIO hierarchy that were first pronounced through his New Voices platform. This included the doubling of minority and women appointments to the AFL-CIO’s fifty-three-member board and the creation of the Union Summer program, an initiative that recruited hundreds of college-age young people as frontline organizers...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 253-262)

    Five years after the collapse of the Black Student Leadership Network (BSLN), Lisa Y. Sullivan, the organization’s cofounder and most visible member, passed away from an unexpected illness. Her death was a shocking blow to many young activists who viewed her as both a mentor and a rising young leader who symbolized the hopes and dreams of the post–civil rights generation. As a student of African American politics and social movements, Sullivan believed, perhaps too optimistically, that she could bridge the interests of young and older activists in black America and in social justice circles around a common agenda...

  10. APPENDIX A: Study Design and Methodology
    (pp. 263-264)
  11. APPENDIX B: Interview Methodology and Biographies of Interviewees
    (pp. 265-270)
  12. APPENDIX C: Profiles of Principal Organizations and Networks
    (pp. 271-272)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 273-318)
    (pp. 319-342)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 343-365)
    (pp. 366-366)