Agitations: Ideologies and Strategies in African American Politics

Article excerpt

Agitations: Ideologies and Strategies in African American Politics. By Kevin R. Anderson. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2010. Pp. [xiv], 198. $34.95, ISBN 978-1-55728-926-1.)

Kevin R. Anderson's Agitations: Ideologies and Strategies in African American Politics explores African American political ideology in broad strokes from the nation's founding through the present as a way to make sense of the multiple strategies that African Americans used in their struggle for equality and justice. For Anderson, African Americans' perception of racism as either indelible ("stable racism") or impermanent ("ambivalent racism") serves as the motive force behind the formation of African American political ideology and the kinds of activism that it generated (p. 150).

To prove his theory, Anderson examines the ideologies that helped form the foundation of the strategies pursued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the three most prominent civil rights organizations of the 1950s and 1960s. In exploring the ideology and activism of these organizations, Anderson draws mainly on secondary sources. He does, however, provide excerpts from primary source material derived from the papers of each organization to strengthen his core argument. Nevertheless, his reliance on the accounts and interpretations of others leads to an absence of original historical findings. To be fair, his aim is not to uncover new evidence about the activities of movement organizations but to provide a new framework for understanding the work they performed.

Agitations is divided into six chapters. The first provides an overview of the debate surrounding the intellectual and ideological traditions that inform American politics, specifically as they relate to iterations of liberalism, and the second locates African American thought within this discourse. …

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