Black Political Organizations in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Black Political Organizations in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Black Political Organizations in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Black Political Organizations in the Post-Civil Rights Era


We know a great deal about civil rights organizations during the 1960s, but relatively little about black political organizations since that decade. Questions of focus, accountability, structure, and relevance have surrounded these groups since the modern Civil Rights Movement ended in 1968. Political scientists Ollie A. Johnson III and Karin L. Stanford have assembled a group of scholars who examine the leadership, membership, structure, goals, ideology, activities, accountability, and impact of contemporary black political organizations and their leaders. Questions considered are: How have these organizations adapted to the changing sociopolitical and economic environment? What ideological shifts, if any, have occurred within each one? What issues are considered important to black political groups and what strategies are used to implement their agendas? The contributors also investigate how these organizations have adapted to changes within the black community and American society as a whole.

Organizations covered include well-known ones such as the NAACP, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Urban League, and the Congress of Racial Equality, as well as organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. Religious groups, including black churches and the Nation of Islam, are also considered.


The idea for this book was the result of a myriad of questions raised by students in American Politics and African American Politics classes. Although the students understood and celebrated the work of African American political organizations during the Civil Rights Movement, they were uncertain about their continued relevance, asking: What is the purpose of these organizations today? Do they really contribute to American society? Is the leadership of African American political organizations out of touch and ineffective? Their questions highlighted the need for serious analysis of African American political organizations in contemporary society.

Karin L. Stanford and E Carl Walton began this project while they were both professors at the University of Georgia. Eventually, E Carl Walton's academic and personal commitments required him to turn over coeditorship to Ollie A. Johnson III, who accepted the role enthusiastically. His students at the University of Maryland, College Park, embraced the project and made it their own. Graduate students Todd S. Burroughs, Lynne Gibson, Cedric K. Johnson, Tamelyn Tucker, and Donn C. Worgs provided outstanding research assistance and critical commentary on early versions of all the chapters.

We thank the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) for its central role in the study of African American politics and for providing a supportive environment for the discussion of various chapters. We received important encouragement from senior NCOBPS scholars, especially Joseph McCormick, K. C. Morrison, Dianne M. Pinderhughes, and Linda E Williams. We also thank the University of Maryland's African American Leadership Institute and its director, Ronald Walters, for logistical support and intellectual leadership. The institute has sponsored regular workshops, lectures, symposia . . .

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