Civil Rights and the Idea of Freedom

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9780820318240: Civil Rights and the Idea of Freedom

Civil Rights and the Idea of Freedom is a groundbreaking work, one of the first to show in detail how the civil rights movement crystallized our views of citizenship as a grassroots-level, collective endeavor and of self-respect as a formidable political tool. Drawing on both oral and written sources, Richard H. King shows how rank-and-file movement participants defined and discussed such concepts as rights, equality, justice, and, in particular, freedom, and how such key movement leaders as Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Stokely Carmichael, and James Forman were attuned to this "freedom talk."

The book includes chapters on the concept of freedom in its many varieties, both individual and collective; on self-interest and self-respect; on Martin Luther King's use of the idea of freedom; and on the intellectual evolution of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, especially in light of Frantz Fanon's thought among movement radicals.

In demonstrating that self-respect, self-determination, and solidarity were as central to the goals of the movement as the dismantling of the Jim Crow system, King argues that the movement's success should not be measured in terms of tangible, quantifiable advances alone, such as voter registration increases or improved standards of living. Not only has the civil rights movement helped strengthen the meaning and political importance of active citizenship in the contemporary world, says King, but

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A groundbreaking work, one of the first to show in detail how the civil rights movement crystallized our views of citizenship as a grassroots-level, collective endeavor and self-respect as a formidable political tool.

About the Author:

Richard H. King is a professor in the American and Canadian Studies department at the University of Nottingham. His books include "A Southern Renaissance" and "Dixie Debates," which he coedited with Helen Taylor.

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