Jonna Perrillo is assistant professor of English education at the University of Texas at El Paso.
In Freedom Rights: New Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement, editors Danielle L. McGuire and John Dittmer follow Lawson's example, bringing together the best new scholarship on the modern civil rights movement. The work expands our understanding of the movement by engaging issues of local and national politics, gender and race relations, family, community, and sexuality. The volume addresses cultural, legal, and social developments and also investigates the roots of the movement. Each essay highlights important moments in the history of the struggle, from the impact of the Young Women's Christian Association on integration to the use of the arts as a form of activism. Freedom Rights not only answers Lawson's call for a more dynamic, interactive history of the civil rights movement, but it also helps redefine the field.
Exploring the different strands within the movement, key figures and leaders, and its ongoing legacy, Rethinking the Black Freedom Movement is the perfect introduction for anyone seeking to understand the struggle for Black civil rights in America.
In Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings, historian Brian Purnell explores the chapter's numerous direct-action protest campaigns for economic justice and social equality. The group's tactics evolved from pickets and sit-ins for jobs and housing to more dramatic action, such as dumping trash on the steps of Borough Hall to protest inadequate garbage collection. The Brooklyn chapter's lengthy record of activism, however, yielded only modest progress. Its members eventually resorted to desperate measures, such as targeting the opening day of the 1964 World's Fair with a traffic-snarling "stall-in." After that moment, its interracial, nonviolent phase was effectively over. By 1966, the group was more aligned with the black power movement, and a new Brooklyn CORE emerged.
Drawing from archival sources and interviews with individuals directly involved in the chapter, Purnell explores how people from diverse backgrounds joined together, solved internal problems, and earned one another's trust before eventually becoming disillusioned and frustrated. Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings adds to our understanding of the broader civil rights movement by examining how it was implemented in an iconic northern city, where interracial activists mounted a heroic struggle against powerful local forms of racism.
Through these oral histories, Golin examines the hopes of the teachers as they picketed, risking arrest and imprisonment. Why did they strike? How did the union represent them? How did their action—and incarceration—change them? Did they continue to teach in impoverished schools? Golin also discusses the tensions arising during that period. These include differences in attitudes toward unions among black, Jewish, and Italian teachers; different organizing strategies of men and women; and conflict between teachers’ professional and working-class identities.
The first part of the book sets the stage by exploring the experience of teachers in Newark from World War II to the 1970 strike. After covering both strikes, Golin brings the story up to 1995 in the epilogue, which traces the connection between educational reform and union democracy. Teacher Power enhances our understanding of what has worked and what hasn’t worked in attempts at reforming urban schools. Equally importantly, the teachers’ vivid words and the author’s perceptive analysis enables us to view the struggles of not just Newark, but the entire United States during a turbulent time.
American public schooling, Steffes shows, was not merely another reform project of the Progressive Era, but a central one. She addresses why Americans invested in public education and explains how an array of reformers subtly transformed schooling into a tool of social governance to address the consequences of industrialization and urbanization. By extending the reach of schools, broadening their mandate, and expanding their authority over the well-being of children, the state assumed a defining role in the education—and in the lives—of American families.
In School, Society, and State, Steffes returns the state to the study of the history of education and brings the schools back into our discussion of state power during a pivotal moment in American political development.