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Becoming American: The African American Quest for Civil Rights, 1861 - 1976

ISBN: 978-0-88295-280-2
381 pages
November 2011, ©2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Becoming American: The African American Quest for Civil Rights, 1861 - 1976 (0882952803) cover image

Scholars continue to differ over when African Americans’ struggle for civil rights began—as well as whether it has actually ended. In the long-awaited volume in our illustrious American History Series, Daniel Aldridge presents a critical and analytical study of the many different leaders and organizations, with special attention to the largely unsung ones whom most student readers never hear about, whose efforts eventually overturned the South’s legal and extralegal system of racial discrimination known as Jim Crow, radically transforming society in that blacks fully became part of the American nation. Regardless of one’s point of view, no one can dispute that African Americans’ long but successful quest for civil rights stands as one of the defining elements in United States history.

Becoming American makes ideal reading for courses on the history of the Civil Rights movement as well as a superb supplement to survey courses in African American and United States history.

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Preface and Acknowledgments xi

CHAPTER ONE: Emancipation, Reconstruction, and the Origins of the African American Quest for Civil Rights 1

The Civil War and Emancipation 1

The Origins of Reconstruction 7

Radical Reconstruction 17

The End of Reconstruction 28

African American Responses to the End of Reconstruction 35

CHAPTER TWO: The New Black Leadership of the Post-Reconstruction Era, 1890—1910 41

Ida B. Wells and the Campaign against Lynching 41

Disfranchisement and the Rise of Jim Crow 46

The Age of Booker T. Washington 50

W.E.B. Du Bois and the Rise of the Radicals 65

CHAPTER THREE: From the Margins to the Mainstream, 1910—1930 74

The Great Migration 74

The Origins of the NAACP 78

African Americans and World War I 86

A. Philip Randolph, Marcus Garvey, and the New Black Politics of the 1920s 96

CHAPTER FOUR: Civil Rights in the New Deal Era, 1930—1945 114

The Scottsboro Case, African Americans, and the Communist Party 114

The New Generation of the NAACP 124

African Americans, the New Deal, and the Democratic Party 131

The National Negro Congress and the March on Washington Movement 147

Civil Rights during World War II 159

CHAPTER FIVE: A Shifting of the Tide: Civil Rights in Postwar America, 1945—1955 169

Black Resistance and Racial Liberation 169

The Journey of Reconciliation and the Origins of Nonviolent Direct Action 177

The Cold War, the NAACP, and the 1948 Election 180

Race, Culture, and Society in Postwar America 192

The Brown Decision 196

CHAPTER SIX: The Civil Rights Revolution Begins, 1955—1962 208

The Montgomery Bus Boycott 208

School Desegragation and the White Backlash 220

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference 226

The Sit-In Movement and the Origins of SNCC 228

The Freedom Rides and the Kennedy Administration 234

The Albany Defeat 243

CHAPTER SEVEN: The Civil Rights Revolution Triumphs, 1963—1965 252

The Birmingham Campaign 252

The March on Washington and the Civil Rights Act 263

Mississippi Summer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party 271

Selma and the Voting Rights Act 284

CHAPTER EIGHT: Black Power and the End of the Civil Rights Era 293

Urban Riots and Inner City Poverty 293

Malcolm X and the Resurgence of Black Nationalist Populism 299

Black Power and the Decline of SNCC 306

The Center Cannot Hold: The Last Years of Martin Luther King 312

Things Fall Apart: The End of the Civil Right Era 320

CONCLUSION THOUGHTS 332

Bibliographical Essay 342

Index 354

Photographs follow pages 73 and 207

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Daniel W. Aldridge III received his B.A. from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. from Emory University. He also holds a J.D. from Northwestern University Law School and practiced law for several years in Los Angeles, California. He is currently Associate Professor of History at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, where he teaches courses in African American and United States cultural history. He taught previously at Emory University, from which he received an Emory Minority Fellowship and a Dean’s Teaching Fellowship, and at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. His recent works include an article in Diplomatic History on African Americans’ anti-colonial efforts during the World War II years.

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"[A] compelling and well-written resource to add to any American history survey course and a thoughtful introduction to a contemporary study of African American history from the Civil War to the mid-1970s." (Teaching History, Fall 2011)

Aldridge’s revisionist interpretation of the Civil Rights Movement is a forceful and elegantly written argument for an admittedly controversial position. Liberals and conservatives alike will find this book informative and provocative.
—Wilson J. Moses, Professor of History, The Pennsylvania State University

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