Toward Freedom Land: The Long Struggle for Racial Equality in America

Toward Freedom Land: The Long Struggle for Racial Equality in America

Toward Freedom Land: The Long Struggle for Racial Equality in America

Toward Freedom Land: The Long Struggle for Racial Equality in America


The ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice lies at the heart of America's evolving identity. The pursuit of equal rights is often met with social and political trepidation, forcing citizens and leaders to grapple with controversial issues of race, class, and gender. Renowned scholar Harvard Sitkoff has devoted his life to the study of the civil rights movement, becoming a key figure in global human rights discussions and an authority on American liberalism.

Toward Freedom Land assembles Sitkoff 's writings on twentieth-century race relations, representing some of the finest race-related historical research on record. Spanning thirty-five years of Sitkoff 's distingushed career, the collection features an in-depth examination of the Great Depression and its effects on African Americans, the intriguing story of the labor movement and its relationship to African American workers, and a discussion of the effects of World War II on the civil rights movement. His precise analysis illuminates multifaceted racial issues including the New Deal's impact on race relations, the Detroit Riot of 1943, and connections between African Americans, Jews, and the Holocaust.


In the pages that follow I have assembled a selection of my essays on the “long” black freedom struggle. Written over the course of five decades, they exemplify my sustained interest in a cluster of themes associated with the struggle for racial justice and equality.

In rereading these essays for inclusion in this book, I was sorely tempted to tidy up some of the prose, temper or amplify a few arguments, revise an outdated perspective, and generally make use of the wonderful scholarship on race done in the recent past. in part, because too many books of essays with the usual disclaimer of being just lightly retouched leave me wondering how much has been changed, and in part, to be fair to those who initially commented upon or criticized them in print, these writings, however vulnerable, are presented here as they originally appeared.

They all deal broadly with the struggle for black equality, but written between 1969 and 2008, for different venues and purposes, they do not present a single coherent interpretation. Moreover, arranged chronologically by subject rather than by publication date, so as to provide a linear sense of that topic’s history, they sometimes counter and at other times echo one another. Indeed, I occasionally repeat myself in pieces written years apart and for different audiences. So did Mozart, but alas, the analogy ends there. the overlapping and interlocking, however, do mirror one historian’s effort to grapple with changing times and changing historical scholarship.

They are, I believe, still of value as historical scholarship. It is my hope that in gathering together in a single volume works written for many journals or scholarly collections, some no longer in print, they will be more accessible to future generations of scholars. This volume also reveals (hopefully) the evolution of a mind. It can be read as an account of a historian’s growth or, at least, his changing views. It is evidence of how one historian confronted and articulated some . . .

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