the radical roots of the civil rights movement

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the radical roots of the civil rights movement



[url= warriors in the fight for racial equality[/url]

The review has a liberal bias but this book looks like a good attempt to document the largely glossed-over ground-breaking decades of the civil rights movement.


The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950

By Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore

Illustrated. 642 pages. W. W. Norton & Company. $39.95.

"In the three decades that followed World War I, black Southerners and their allies relentlessly battled Jim Crow," Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore writes at the outset of this rich but sprawling book. Ms. Gilmore, a professor of history at Yale, wants her "collective biography of activist black and white Southerners" from that era to illuminate how resistance to the South's elaborate system of racial segregation, often nicknamed Jim Crow after a 19th-century minstrel song, long predated the onset of traditionally celebrated civil-rights initiatives in 1954-55.

Ms. Gilmore begins her story at the end of World War I, when "the virulence of discrimination during the war and the racial violence afterward transformed African-Americans' political consciousness" and stimulated a new generation of activists. Southern officialdom was violently intolerant of such dissenters, and in most instances "those who openly protested white domination had to leave" the region.

"The South could remain the South only by chasing out some of its brightest minds and most bountiful spirits, generation after generation," Ms. Gilmore writes.

The first focal figure in "Defying Dixie" is Lovett Fort-Whiteman, a widely traveled Texan who in 1919 became "the first American-born black Communist." Ms. Gilmore devotes considerable attention to such early Soviet true-believers, few though they were, for "in the 1920s and 1930s the Communists alone argued for complete equality between the races," she notes. "Their racial ideal eventually became America's ideal."

[ 06 January 2008: Message edited by: rasmus ]