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African Americans and the Media

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4036-5
248 pages
October 2009, Polity
African Americans and the Media (0745640362) cover image


From pamphlets denouncing slavery to boycotts of Hollywood, African Americans have fought for adequate representations of themselves in the mass media industries of the United States. This book provides readers with an interdisciplinary overview of the past, present, and future of African Americans in U.S. media and the ongoing project of gaining racial equality in media: a process which spans generations. Catherine Squires introduces the reader to the varied ways in which Black Americans have navigated cultural, political, and economic obstacles both to make their own media and to critique mainstream media.

Synthesizing the work of social scientists, historians, cultural critics, as well as comments from audience members and media producers, African Americans and the Media gives readers a lively entry point to classic and contemporary studies of Black Americans and mass media. Across the chapters, readers follow African Americans’ struggles to harness the power of print, broadcasting, film, and digital media, through five main themes which are woven through the book: representation, circulation, innovation, audience and responsibility. Taking in examples as diverse as Blaxploitation films, the work of 20th Century black activist journalists such as Ida B. Wells and A. Philip Randolph, and popular television such as The Cosby Show, this book will be essential reading for all students and scholars of media and communications and African American studies.

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Table of Contents

Chronology of Events
Introduction - African Americans and the Mass Media
Section One: The Black Press
1. The Black Press in the 19th Century: From Slavery to Reconstruction
2. The Great Black Migration and the Growth of the Urban Black Press, 1910-1945
3. The Black Press, the Civil Rights Movement, and Beyond
4. Black Magazines in the 20th Century
Section Two: Film
5. Mainstream Cinema and African Americans, 1900-1940s
6. From Servile to "Upstanding": Message films, Sidney Poitier, and Hollywood after WWII
7. Approaching a New Century: From Spike Lee to Direct-to-DVD
Section Three: Radio and Recorded Music
8. Records and Race in the Early Years of Radio
9. Radio and Race: From World War II to Rock ‘n' Roll
10. Integrating Entertainment and Ownership in Music & Radio
Section Four: Television and New Media
11. Black Faces in Small Places: Early television and Black Americans
12. Enter Cosby: A New Era of Black Presence on Television, 1984-1992
13. Black Entertainment Television and the Promise of Cable Diversity
14. African Americans and the New Media Environment: From Mass to Niche Media
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Author Information

Catherine Squires, Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity & Equality, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
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The Wiley Advantage

  • Provides a textbook overview of the past, present, and future of African Americans in US media
  • Brings together work from a variety of disciplines to provide the fullest understanding of this complex relationship to date
  • Uses 5 main themes to pull together this wealth of material: representation, circulation, innovation, audience and responsibility
  • Employs diverse and resonant examples to bring the book to life, from Blaxploitation films to popular television like The Cosby Show
  • A volume in the Polity Media and Minorities Series
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"Prof. Squires has accomplished something quite remarkable with African Americans and the Media. This is not simply a 'textbook'. Rather, it is one of the most comprehensive, engaged works of scholarship to chart the relationship African Americans have with media. This book not only covers every medium, from print to internet, but it also examines innovation, audience reception, and even industry responsibility. This is an absolutely essential resource for students and scholars at every level."
Robin Coleman, University of Michigan
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