Introduction to Special Issue: "The Civil Rights Movement in New York City"

By Taylor, Clarence | Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, July 2007 | Go to article overview

Introduction to Special Issue: "The Civil Rights Movement in New York City"


Taylor, Clarence, Afro-Americans in New York Life and History


Since the 1960s most US history has been written as if the civil rights movement was primarily or entirely a southern history. Of course this is incorrect. The fight for civil rights has always been a national struggle. For many years now historians have been attempting to correct this view. My own contribution to this effort has focused on the struggle in New York City through a history of the black churches in Brooklyn, a biography of one of the most prominent religious leaders in New York City, and a forthcoming history of the teachers union. I also co-edited a survey history of the civil rights movement that emphasizes the national-both northern and southern--character of this ongoing struggle. One of the first chapters in that book discuses the fight for school integration in Boston in 1787. (2)

Of course, no one has been alone in this work. There is a new generation of scholarship rewriting our understanding of this history. This special issue of Afro-Americans in New York Life and History represents one of the first compilations surveying this effort. The essays chosen for this volume, which will later be expanded in book form, focus on this northern history from a New York perspective. (3)

In their challenge to the southern paradigm of the movement, scholars have not only questioned the 1954 starting date of the civil rights movement but have argued that voting rights, public accommodation, and integration were not the only goals of civil rights campaigns. Jeanne F. Theoharis, for instance, has argued that the northern wing of the movement embraced black economic empowerment, and a fairer distribution of governmental services and resources. Campaigns outside of the South, she argues, did not limit their approach to non-violent protest but adopted self-defense and Black Nationalism in some campaigns. Theoharis and other scholars of northern civil rights struggles also challenge the portrayal of the Black Power Movement in the late 1960s as a force that derailed the "triumphant" struggle for civil rights.

Periodization is also an important question in this literature. There are some who contend that the objectives that would later be identified with the black freedom struggle of the late 1960s were evident in the late 1940s and 1950s. Not only have northern civil right studies been more geographically inclusive, they have also moved beyond the white-black dichotomy so pervasive in studies on the South and have turned to the plight and agency of other people of color, especially Latinos and Asians. Some scholars have also disputed the portrayal of the classification of segregation in the North as de facto, arguing that northern segregation was sanctioned by the state. (4)

There are at least three important components noted by scholars studying northern civil rights. The first component was a secular left that included members of the American Communist Party. Despite attacks on the party during the Cold War, many members did not abandoned racial justice movements, but instead joined national and grassroots organizations. For example, Annie Stein became active in the Brooklyn branch of the NAACP in the 1950s where she championed the cause of school integration.

Communists were not the only leftist fighting for racial justice. Other members of the secular left included anti-Communist democratic socialists and social democrats. A good example is Bayard Rustin who was the main organizer of the February 3, 1964 New York City School Boycott. Some historians have also noted the pivotal role of trade unionists in civil rights campaigns outside of the South. (5)

The second important part of the northern civil rights movement was made up of a religious component. Various religious communities, including ministers of different denominations and non-ministerial lay people were at the fore, organizing, and carrying out demonstrations. It was not just in the South but many places outside of the southern region that black churches became the center force of civil rights campaigns.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Introduction to Special Issue: "The Civil Rights Movement in New York City"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.