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I''ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle

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This momentous work offers a groundbreaking history of the early civil rights movement in the South with new material that situates the book in the context of subsequent movement literature.

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... In addition to its breadth, organizing is also incredibly diverse and dynamic. There are long-standing models (Payne, 1995), an array of historical influences (Fisher, 1994), contextual adaptations (Christens & Collura, 2012), trends (Christens & Speer, 2015), innovations (Mumby, 2015), and tensions and trade-offs (Minkler et al., 2019) that are constantly animating the field. Local leaders and staff organizers creatively deploy unique interpretations of these models, trends, stories, ideas, and practices in attempts to more effectively engage greater portions of their city's and region's residents in building social power to contend with entrenched interests and oppressive aspects of the status quo. ...
... At the same time as we confront elevated radicalization and mobilization of overtly antidemocratic, white nationalist, and science-denying factions of society, we are also struck, paradoxically, by the timelessness of some of the phenomena under study in this special issue. The granular study of how organizers stimulate a political subjectivity and critical consciousness within local leaders as articulated in Medellin et al. (2021) and the habits of courage described by Oyakawa et al. (2021) article harken to the critical processes driving the civil rights movement (Payne, 1995). These grassroots capacity-building and leadership development processes, although varied in their specifics over time and place, remain indispensable to efforts to build and exercise community power, as they have CHRISTENS ET AL. | 11 been throughout many different historical movements and local organizing efforts (Payne, 1995;Preskill & Brookfield, 2008). ...
... The granular study of how organizers stimulate a political subjectivity and critical consciousness within local leaders as articulated in Medellin et al. (2021) and the habits of courage described by Oyakawa et al. (2021) article harken to the critical processes driving the civil rights movement (Payne, 1995). These grassroots capacity-building and leadership development processes, although varied in their specifics over time and place, remain indispensable to efforts to build and exercise community power, as they have CHRISTENS ET AL. | 11 been throughout many different historical movements and local organizing efforts (Payne, 1995;Preskill & Brookfield, 2008). ...
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There is now wide recognition that grassroots community organizing is a uniquely necessary approach for contending with the persistent and escalating socioeconomic inequities that manifest as disparities across many societal domains, including housing, safety, education, and mental and physical health. The articles in this special issue report findings from studies designed to increase understanding of community organizing processes and produce actionable knowledge that can enhance these and other similar efforts to create more equitable and just cities and regions. These studies examine a variety of community organizing campaigns, initiatives, and networks in North America, as well as one in Bulgaria, and one in South Africa. These groups are building social power and demanding economic, racial, educational, and environmental justice. In this introductory article, we highlight some of the themes that emerge from this set of studies and make recommendations for future roles that research can play in advancing collective understanding and the practical objectives of grassroots organizing initiatives.
... Although this was not the first food blockade in the context of the 1960s civil rights era, as historian Bobby Lovett (2005) observed when he described a similar situation in Tennessee when black farmers attempted to vote in 1960, this was the first time that food took a central role in the Mississippi struggle and by extension in the national movement. Yet, scholars treat and read the blockade as an isolated disruption to SNCC's voter registration campaign in the Delta (Zinn 1964;Carson 1981;Dittmer 1994;Payne 2007). Rarely remarked upon or discussed in detail, the blockade is buried in the traditional framework of the 1960s struggle for civil rights that emphasizes a singular national, male-centric struggle for voting rights, education, and public accommodations (Lawson 1991;Hall 2005;Theoharis 2006). ...
... Third, it shows how these actors engaged in everyday food politicsthe interaction between personal food provisioning strategies and the power structures that dictate the conditions in which food is accessiblecentral to our understandings of food justice and food sovereignty today. Even though there has been a proliferation of scholarship (Barnett 1993;Dittmer 1994;Collier-Thomas and Franklin 2001;Payne 2007;McGuire and Dittmer 2011) that has shown the centrality of these overlooked actorsespecially womento the successes of the movement, their work on food has received virtually no sustained scholarly attention. Even in "historical-spatial representations" or symbolic characterizations of the civil rights movement that "re-inscribe certain hegemonic narratives" (Dwyer 2000, 661), issues of food and the blockade are absent. ...
... Taken together, these demographics, coupled with the prevalence of racial inequality, impacted the day-to -day social, economic, political, and food realities of blacks. This convergence created conditions by which over twenty-two thousand blacks depended on the county's federal commodity surplus food program while living in substandard housing and tar-paper shacks without floors or access to clean water, similar to shotgun houses that sharecroppers lived in on plantations (Payne 2007). As a backdrop to the organizing tactics used by civil rights activists, such dynamics created massive white resistance to the work of civil rights activists in the area. ...
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The relationship between food and the American civil rights movement is often storied within the context of lunch counter sit-ins. Yet, food not only functioned as a backdrop to protests and demonstrations, it also took center stage. In the Mississippi Delta, for instance, an event known by activists as the 1962–1963 Greenwood Food Blockade illuminated the centrality of food to movement politics. Rarely remarked upon or discussed in detail, scholars read the blockade as an isolated disruption to the Mississippi Civil Rights movement, overlooking the significance of this event. In this paper, I attempt to recover the Greenwood Food Blockade from narratives of the civil rights movement and offer an alternative reading of the event. This reading is instructive and extends what we know about the civil rights movement in important ways. First, it enlarges our understanding of food as a weapon, tool, tactic, and everyday preoccupation in the civil rights era. Second, it amplifies the role of poor rural black communities, local activists, and women in dictating the civil rights agenda in tandem with national activists. Third, it shows how these actors engaged in everyday food politics central to our understandings of food justice and food sovereignty today.
... It is undoubtedly true that some social workers espouse radical philosophies and perspectives and many engage in activist social actions targeting systemic structural transformation. The same can be said for members of any profession and even for those without a profession (Payne, 1995). In fact, radical forerunners claim radical change always comes from the bottom up in deomocratic societies (Alinsky, 1971;Dominelli, 1996;Kahn, 2010;Piven, 2006). ...
Preprint
The social work profession has often been portrayed as a progressive, critical, and even radical movement for social justice and social change (Wagner, 1991; Reisch, 2013). This paper analyzes the basis of these claims and critiques the labeling of social work as radical, utilizing a philosophy of science lens and critical theories and perspectives to interrogate the professionalization of social work, the current knowledge base and practices, and the history of social work. The final analysis finds that social work is not a radical profession due to the influence of neoliberal values and social forces that promote the status quo. Implications point to a need to move beyond the myth of the radical profession and towards realistic ways that social work could re-position itself as a progressive profession. https://doi.org/10.1332/204986019X15668424193408
... To be clear, we do not assert that adult input as a whole is problematic. In some cases, older adult allies have helped to drastically improve the strategy and organizing of young people (see Payne, 2007;Ransby, 2003). While we know that there are adult allies who are interested in transforming relationships of power, we use our ethnographic vignettes as cautionary tales to ...
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The authors theorize what we call managerialist subterfuge, drawing on distinct ethnographic studies to examine how adult “partners” leverage the language and strategies of corporate managerialism to undermine youths’ radical visions of change. Critical analysis of patterns in interview and participant observation data across two youth participatory action research projects revealed the ways in which adult interventions functioned to co-opt youths’ activist agendas; following the rationale that youth who are presumed to be in need of adult management are “out of their depth” when it comes to civic matters. The authors assert that managerialist subterfuge functions as a mechanism to further bureaucratize youth activism and absolve state actors of accountability for harm that Black youth and youth of color experience.
... As a result of a number of historical and structural features of American educational systems, the relational elements of schools can often serve as barriers to change. In particular, school systems are (a) riven with mistrust of those above in the hierarchy, especially in recent years as a result of climates of accountability and teacher evaluation (Mehta, 2013), which engenders reluctance to engage in new change efforts (Payne, 2007); (b) saddled with assumptions about teaching, professional collaboration, and racial equity that conflict with many aspirations of current reform movements (Lortie, 1975;Pollock, 2009); and (c) organized as street-level bureaucracies, wherein the impossibility of monitoring or prescribing every aspect of teachers' work results in de facto autonomy for teachers, whose substantive participation in new change efforts is therefore difficult to ensure (Weatherly & Lipsky, 1977). ...
Article
As a result of the frustration with the dominant “What Works” paradigm of large-scale research-based improvement, practitioners, researchers, foundations, and policymakers are increasingly embracing a set of ideas and practices that can be collectively labeled continuous improvement (CI) methods. This chapter provides a comparative review of these methods, paying particular attention to CI methods’ intellectual influences, theories of action, and affordances and challenges in practice. We first map out and explore the shared intellectual forebears that CI methods draw on. We then discuss three kinds of complexity to which CI methods explicitly attend—ambiguity, variability, and interdependence—and how CI methods seek a balance of local and formal knowledge in response to this complexity. We go on to argue that CI methods are generally less attentive to the relational and political dimensions of educational change and that this leads to challenges in practice. We conclude by considering CI methods’ aspirations for impact at scale, and offer a number of recommendations to inform future research and practice.
... La prise en compte de la fiabilité est particulièrement importante si l'on entend corriger les inégalités persistantes des résultats scolaires. Quelle que soit la qualité de l'intervention L'avenir de l'éducation proposée, Payne (1984 ;2007) suggère par exemple qu'elle échouera souvent dans les contextes urbains, où bon nombre des élèves les plus défavorisés de notre pays ont tendance à être regroupés. De même, Shouse et Mussoline (1999) suggèrent que les interventions pédagogiques complexes ont tendance à ne pas être efficaces là où les infrastructures sociales et professionnelles sont faibles, comme c'est le cas dans les écoles aux ressources insuffisantes qui accueillent des enfants pauvres et issus de minorités. ...
... A focus on non-violence is more pronounced when attention is on King and mass demonstrations, casting the movement as a top-down phenomenon (Crosby 2011). This narrative is emphasized, in part, due to the appealing and reassuring story of the triumph of morality and national redemption but it was also a strategic choice by key members of the movement (Payne 2007). Prominent leaders feared the white public's reaction of a movement based upon self-defense (Hill 2004). ...
Thesis
Why do civilians form militias? Militias emerge not when there is a lack of state security but instead when competing violence specialists behave as predatory actors. I argue that varying time horizons create the conditions for militias. I examine political reforms that have heterogeneous effects, lowering horizons for specialists and raising them for civilians. A high discount rate pushes violence specialists towards destructive violence. Having two options of violence, productive and destructive violence, specialists weigh the cost and benefits of each. The cost of productive violence is incurred up front while the cost of destructive violence occurs later, leading specialists to opt for destruction when they are experiencing a falling discount factor. However, discounting the future is self-defeating as it sets the conditions for militias. Some civilians will flee while others collaborate, but those with low discount factors will form protective militias. For civilian militias, political reforms lowers their discount rate and increases the extent to which they value the future relative to the present. Civilian militias with a low discount rate will have an interest in securing their future with arms. With the help of subnational and archival research, I show that militia onset is more likely in response to predatory actors. I test the theory using two case studies: the autodefensas in Mexico and the Deacons for Defense and Justice in the United States.
... Memory seems to be a trigger and a catalyst for Carolina's activism, reminding us how it can be a resource for collective action (Harris, 2006;Payne, 1995). When I asked her about her motivations for proposing and leading gynaecological self-examination workshops, she evoked the original dimension of the practice in historical self-help and insisted on her desire to be part of a feminist 'filiation': It has been a founding practice of the historical self-help movement, so it's a bit like taking part in the filiation, or I don't know how to say it, in the continuity of this movement. ...
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Gynaecological self-help, a well-known and historical feminist practice from the Second Wave movements which aims at embodying a radical alternative to traditional reproductive politics, is resurging today in France, Switzerland and Belgium. Drawing on empirical observations and interviews, this article questions the links between feminist memory of self-help, the shaping of nostalgia and the production of a political feminist ‘we’. Born at the end of the 1960s in the United States, feminist self-help travelled internationally and was appropriated differently depending on national contexts. This ‘glorious’ history of self-help and, more importantly, its narrated memory, is central to contemporary European self-help activism, as observed in the three national contexts. Drawing on this insight, this article reveals the active memory-oriented emotional work of self-help activists. It examines the ways in which nostalgia for an imagined and lost past is actively and practically produced and encouraged in social movement practices, and highlights the specificity of the kind of collective feminist identity that it shapes and promotes in contemporary self-help politics.
... Being in a formal leadership role in an organization is not a requirement for making impactful change. As stated by Payne (1995), "ordinary people who learn to believe in themselves are capable of extraordinary acts, or better, of acts that seem extraordinary to us precisely because we have such an impoverished sense of the capabilities of ordinary people" (p. 5). ...
... 11 This is rooted in the notion that the people who are the most impacted by interlocking systems of oppression are the experts in their own experiences, that they have the knowledge to liberate themselves. This tradition of participation and inclusion fueled the Mississippi freedom movement and organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), 12 which are being adopted today by organizations such as the Black Liberation Collective, 13 the national organization that helped to coordinate the #StudentBlackout movement. 14 ...
Chapter
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Within the social movement repertoire of this new generation, the digital literacy of young activists was activated in order to spread a coherent message about the need to divest monies from oppressive entities and invest them in the growth of our communities, which can be seen in Figure 3.9 In conjunction with the assault that Black students took on their universities across the country, we are witnessing something that is otherwise unprecedented: the radical potential of Black youth organizing and politics. I call this moment, and the general frame for the movement “Critical Black Youth Politics.” Critical Black Youth Politics serves three major purposes, which are situated in 1) intersectional analyses of power, oppression, and hegemony; 2) radical participatory praxis; and 3) collective resistance and healing. I do not pose these as tenets of a new theoretical model. I do, however, offer these as a way to engage the types of politics that Black youth are engaged in and committed to practicing.
... L'espace hybride dans lequel se déploie cette pratique ne naît pas tant dans les années 1930 grâce à l'action de Saul Alinsky, comme le défendent la majorité des travaux existants (Fisher, 1994 ;Schutz, Miller, 2015), qu'à la fin des années 1970. En effet, l'espace et le groupe professionnel qui lui donne forme naissent de la rencontre de deux répertoires d'action collective jusqu'alors portés par des groupes distincts : d'une part, l'offre politique réformatrice développée par Alinsky au sein de l'Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), fondée en 1940, qui plonge ses racines dans une tradition d'intervention sociale professionnelle issue des mouvements progressistes du début du siècle, la community organization (Wenocur, Reisch, 2001) ; de l'autre, les pratiques contestataires des mouvements sociaux des années 1960-1970, et en particulier le militantisme de proximité dans les lieux de vie qui se développe dans certains secteurs du mouvement pour les droits civiques et se diffuse à d'autres foyers de contestation (Bloom, Martin, 2014 ;Breines, 1989 ;Payne, 2007). ...
... In many ways, Freire's work is highly connected to popular education and participatory action research (PAR), which have taken roots from South Africa to Australia, but also draw inspiration from US Black organising traditions, such as with Ella Baker, the Highlander School, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1960s (Horton and Freire 1990;Payne 1995), as well as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defence (BPP), Ethnic Studies, and Power Movements of the 1960s-1970s (E. Brown 1992;Okihiro 2016). While diverse in theory and methodology, these approaches commonly focused on the oppressed, utilised the neighbourhoods, fields, or factories as 'classrooms', and sought to access and honour the dignity, histories, and cultural practices of the communities while 're-learning' on a path towards a more just society. ...
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(currently free to download at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42438-020-00183-8#article-info) Trending social media has indicated that there are currently two pandemics: Covid-19 and racism. While this typology and terminology can be critiqued, it is rather clear that the virus and White supremacy are key concerns of social movements in various parts of the world, particularly in nation states that experienced European colonisation and imperialism. The wake of Covid-19 has perhaps brought greater attention and support to #BlackLivesMatter-oriented protest movements, including by those labelled people of colour (POC) or ‘minorities’ in the North American context, such as Latinx and Asian communities. But with the amplified protest movement have come deeper calls for systemic change, from policy to ideology to everyday practice. Some of these critiques have been directed at the privilege, positionality, and participation of Asian communities not only with #BLM-oriented activism, but also in education and general society. This paper seeks to contribute to this critical discourse through a brief discussion of historical solidarity between Black and Asian activists and social movements, and how these practices might help inform activism within North America as well as other protest movements. Going beyond one-dimensional ‘but we experience racism too’ discourse of Asian communities that has recently increased due to anti-Asian hate crimes and scapegoating regarding ‘The Chinese Flu’, this paper explores some of the ways that historical Black-Asian solidarity can inform more intersectional and transnational analyses and pedagogies of Asian students, educators, and activists.
... However, in spite of African American women's leadership achievements, historians have mostly neglected the important role they played in the civil rights movement partly because women were generally relegated to tasks behind-the-scenes for daily maintenance at the local levels such as fundraising and assisting male leaders with their needs (Allen, 1996), usually participating at higher levels than men while the men served as spokespersons (Payne, 2007). The reality is that African American women had a stake in the movement's success because, in contrast to White women, they had to ensure their safety as well as their communities from racial and gender discrimination and the brutality associated with the vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the resulting entrenched social and economic inequalities. ...
Article
Purpose – This paper examines women leaders from diverse career backgrounds and ethnicities to discover their perspectives of their leadership roles and empowerment in order to determine similarities and differences among them, focusing on the perspectives of African American women. Design/methodology/approach – The review process began with a comprehensive review of African American women in history in the context of leadership and empowerment. Next, a Q-sort methodology was used as a semi-qualitative approach for women leaders to rank words of empowerment and facilitate discussions among these women. The Q methodology is known for exploring issues that are correlated with individuals who are influenced with personal feelings and opinions. Findings – The paper concludes that perceptions of leadership roles differ among the African American women leaders when compared to other ethnicities. The results support the idea that women from diverse ethnic backgrounds have different experiences in the workplace and these experiences influence how they identify factors they perceive as beneficial to them in terms of their perspectives on leadership and empowerment. Several themes emerged for African American women leaders including being overlooked, marginalized, undervalued, and unappreciated in their professions as leaders due to their dual minority status. As it is now as it was in the past, such barriers can deter or stop progression for African American women leaders. Originality/value– The history of African American women in leadership roles is scantily recognized or not recognized at all. This paper highlights leadership roles and barriers for African American women currently in leadership roles in contrast to other women. The issues they face are still similar to those faced by African American women in earlier decades in spite of increased career mobility. A relatively understudied topic in leadership and management history in general, this paper provides a unique lens from which to build awareness about the leadership roles and empowerment of African American women and to effect needed change.
... That said, scholars have recently taken an interest in political organizing and organization. Some have drawn important conceptual distinctions between organizing, on the one hand, and practices like mobilizing and advocacy, on the other (Han, 2014;McAlevey, 2018), while others have produced important in-depth studies of particular organizing traditions (Bretherton, 2014;Payne, 2007;Ransby, 2005). Organizing has yet to be extensively explored by political theorists, but some scholarship has begun to appear, conceptualizing it as a practice for deepening democratiza- ...
... 62 He also adds that while historians have commonly portrayed the movement leadership as male, ministerial, and well-educated, he finds that organizers in Mississippi and elsewhere looked for leadership to working-class rural Blacks, and especially to women. More in: (Payne 1996), (Dittmer 1994), (Garrow 1985 of protest sentiments among African Americans, most of their ministers "did not embrace the most rigorous techniques of protest until other leaders took the initiative and gained widespread support" (G. Marx qtd. in Glenn 1964). ...
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The article focuses on the diversity of attitudes that Black churches presented toward the social protest of the civil rights era. Although their activity has been often perceived only through the prism of Martin Luther King’s involvement, in fact they presented many different attitudes to the civil rights campaigns. They were never unanimous about social and political engagement and their to various responses to the Civil Rights Movement were partly connected to theological divisions among them and the diversity of Black Christianity (a topic not well-researched in Poland). For years African American churches served as centers of the Black community and fulfilled many functions of ethnic churches (as well as of other ethnic institutions), but the scope of these functions varied greatly – also during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Therefore, the main aim of this article is to analyze the whole spectrum of Black churches’ attitudes to the civil rights protests, paying special attention to the approaches and strategies that are generally less known. * Funding for the research leading to the results of this study was received from the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) on the basis of the Decision No. 2018/02/X/HS5/02381 for MINIATURA 2 project: “Polityczno-społeczna rola Kościołów afroamerykańskich na Południu USA.” I gratefully acknowledge this support.
... Our study selectively emphasizes aspects of the relational model of community organizing as practiced by an organizer with the PICO Network, Paul Medellin. Critically, these relational approaches draw from traditions that go well beyond Alinsky to include the civil rights movement (Morris, 1984;Payne, 2007), labor organizing (McAlevey, 2016;Rosenfeld, 2014), the Black Panthers (Laing, 2009), and others. The tools of organizing illuminated by Medellin demonstrate a complex, time-consuming process, yet one that offers promise for deeper democratic engagement by citizens in structuring their own lives and the lives of their communities. ...
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Leadership development is an important practice in community organizing. Although this importance is often acknowledged, relatively little scholarship details how leadership development is actually executed, or how concepts of leadership development are applied in organizing practice. This study reports on a thesis conducted by a community organizer utilizing a critical reflexive methodology. Eight active leaders from a community organizing effort in New Orleans, LA were interviewed about their interpretations of their own development as leaders. Leadership development as experienced by leaders is supplemented with observations from the organizer working with these leaders, providing triangulation on developmental processes in practice. Findings demonstrate the potential for transformation among community residents as they work to build collective power for social change.
... The everyday maintenance of the movement, women's work, overwhelmingly, is effectively devalued, sinking beneath the level of our sight'. 129 Yet attention to McCrear's courthouse visit, framed in connection with the lives of other women such as Redoshi, Boynton Robinson, Cooper, Morton and Beckham, serves as an important corrective to these elisions by revealing patterns of grassroots, female-led resistance in Alabama stretching back to slavery. ...
Article
This article uncovers for the first time the life story of Matilda McCrear (1857 or 1858–1940), the last survivor of the Clotilda, the last U.S. slave ship. Drawing on a newspaper interview with McCrear alongside genealogical data, this study charts her experiences from slavery to the Great Depression, and sheds light not only on McCrear’s life but also the lives of her mother Gracie, stepfather Guy, sister Sallie and two other unnamed sisters, who were all survivors of the slave ship Clotilda. The article has two key aims: to construct one of the most complete biographical accounts yet available of a female transatlantic slave trade survivor and, equally significantly, to create the first composite portrait of a family’s experience of the Middle Passage and its aftermath. The article highlights the lifelong injustices that McCrear and her family endured, but it also uncovers the sometimes surprising ways in which McCrear resisted the social and economic limitations of her place, as an African-born woman, in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century U.S. South.
Article
An admirer of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal liberalism, Lyndon B. Johnson gained first‐hand experience of racial and ethnic discrimination while teaching in segregated Mexican‐American schools. This gave Johnson the necessary political experience and connections to drive civil rights legislation through a normally recalcitrant Congress that was full of powerful southern politicians. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a very wide‐ranging piece of legislation. Title II had the most immediate visible impact, leading to the desegregation of public facilities and accommodations. Through a broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause, the courts successfully extended desegregation from publicly owned facilities to many notionally private establishments as well. Mississippi was the epitome of white supremacy and racial injustice: the place where most lynchings occurred, where the first White Citizens’ Councils to resist school desegregation were formed, and where state leaders were openly and rabidly resistant to integration.
Article
Scholars have long debated the efficacy of social media in facilitating offline collective action. This research seeks to fill a gap in that literature by examining the role of social ties in determining intention to participate in different types of collective action. Survey findings show that aspects of tie strength—reciprocity, duration, and affect—have different impact on intention to participate in high- and low-cost political actions. Findings from this study have theoretical implication for the field as well as practical implication for social movement organizers seeking to mobilize supporters using social media.
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In The Communist Manifesto (1848), Marx and Engels “openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” However, by 1872, Marx suggested that in some countries it was possible for workers to “achieve their aims by peaceful means.” Since that time, Marxist political theorists have debated whether a transition to socialism can be achieved by parliamentary means alone or whether the transition to socialism requires the use of illegal or even violent tactics. This paper argues that with the resurgence of a socialist movement in the US, the question of tactics is once again an open debate. For this reason, it is useful to revisit the tactical debates of the Second International, because they are directly relevant to contemporary discussions of socialist strategy and tactics in the US, where tactical positions already run the gamut from parliamentarism to armed self-defense.
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in English Responding to the 2016 United States Presidential election, this piece contests that the popularly deployed phrase “identity politics” is not Identity Politics as articulated by Black feminists of the Combahee River Collective but is rather a neoliberal co-optation of Identity Politics. By situating neoliberalism and the Black feminists that articulated Identity Politics as historical contemporaries, the piece argues that as the former spread to institutions like universities it co-opted, depoliticized, a-historicized, and misappropriated the latter. The piece concludes by offering “Geo-Political Situatedness” as a theoretical frame that undermines neoliberalism's co-optation of Identity Politics. Key words : Neoliberalism, Identity Politics, Black feminism, Combahee River Collective
Book
The Routledge Handbook of Critical Pedagogies for Social Work traverses new territory by providing a cutting-edge overview of the work of classic and contemporary theorists, in a way that expands their application and utility in social work education and practice; thus, providing a bridge between critical theory, philosophy, and social work. Each chapter showcases the work of a specific critical educational, philosophical and/or social theorist including: Henry Giroux, Michel Foucault, Cornelius Castoriadis, Herbert Marcuse, Paulo Freire, bell hooks, Joan Tronto, Iris Marion Young, Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci and many others to elucidate the ways in which their key pedagogic concepts can be applied to specific aspects of social work education and practice. The text exhibits a range of research-based approaches to educating social work practitioners as agents of social change. It provides a robust and much needed, alternative paradigm to the technique-driven ‘conservative revolution’ currently being fostered by neoliberalism in both social work education and practice. The volume will be instructive for social work educators who aim to teach for social change, by assisting students to develop counter-hegemonic practices of resistance and agency, and reflecting on the pedagogic role of social work practice more widely. The volume holds relevance for both postgraduate and undergraduate/qualifying social work and human services courses around the world.
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The social work profession has often been portrayed as a progressive, critical and even radical movement for social justice and social change (Wagner, 1990; Reisch, 2013). This article analyses the basis of these claims and critiques the labelling of social work as radical, utilising a philosophy-of-science lens and critical theories and perspectives to interrogate the professionalisation of social work, the current knowledge base and practices, and the history of social work. The final analysis finds that social work is not a radical profession due to the influence of neoliberal values and social forces that promote the status quo. Implications point to a need to move beyond the myth of the radical profession and towards realistic ways that social work could reposition itself as a progressive profession.
Chapter
This chapter examines the creation and use of Randolph Cemetery by African Americans in Columbia, South Carolina, during Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Named after assassinated African-American state senator Benjamin F. Randolph, the cemetery became an important memorial to the political advances black people made during Reconstruction and the violence they endured to achieve that progress. During Reconstruction African Americans used the cemetery to showcase their political power and to defy white Southerners’ violent intimidation. In the Jim Crow era, when white Southerners stripped African Americans of their voting rights, black people kept the memory of black political participation alive through memorial events they organized in the cemetery. Through funerals and burials, black leaders created new martyrs to racial equality, like fifteen-year-old Wade Haynes, who was executed by the state in 1893. Ultimately, this chapter contends that Randolph Cemetery demonstrates the significant role that death played in black community building, politics, and activism.
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Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells is the inspirational autobiography of an African American civil rights leader and black feminist. Ida B. Wells, born into slavery in 1862, witnessed the Reconstruction era after the Civil War in the USA, the battle of suffrage, the World War I, and its aftermath. In her autobiography, she documents her individual struggle, her accomplishments, and her major activities in order to promote equality for women and African Americans. This autobiography provides a critical review of American racial and sexual relations. She did not simply observe the American scene, but she also transformed it as a leader in the women’s movement and the African American Civil Rights movement. The autobiography is especially important in documenting the prevalent patterns of lynching of African American men by white mobs. While protesting and writing about these horrors, Wells also fought against these illegal and violent acts. She struggled with many people to have her radical and unflinching stands represented. She had opinion differences with some of the prominent leaders including Susan B. Anthony, W E. B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington. She depicts these differences in her autobiography while reflecting upon her unwillingness to compromise with her stand. Thus, the present paper tries to locate the Civil Rights movement in America through female perspective. The major aim of the paper is to construct a dialogue around the autobiography of Ida. B. Wells in order to understand the role of women leaders in the Civil Rights Movement in the USA.
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The medieval carnival, according to Russian literary scholar Mikhail Bakhtin, was a public festivity of excess in which people were free to violate social norms and subvert prevailing authority. Recent analysts have applied Bakhtin’s concept of carnival to contemporary political protests that incorporate a playful, culture-defying element. But the term has been used in multiple and contradictory ways. For Bakhtin, carnival is an expressive pattern pervasive in a culture and has no instrumental purpose (what I call “communal carnival”), while carnivalesque protest consists of specific practices with an explicit political agenda (“intentional carnival”). The Occupy Wall Street movement can be analyzed as both communal and intentional carnival. Protest movements use humor to subvert received doctrines; humorous performances are addressed to participants, the public, and repressive forces. Some critics regard carnivalesque performances as frivolous and demeaning of serious political causes. I conclude by discussing the effect of carnival on the Occupy movement.
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Since November 2018, Australian high school climate strikers have become leaders in the movement for climate action, giving rise to a new generation of young people who have learnt how to lead change. This article focuses on the question of leadership across social movements and in global youth movements. It then investigates the different forms of leadership emerging in School Striker for Climate (SS4C) through a qualitative survey of its leaders. We argue that leadership is multifaceted, shaped by the different strategies that movements use to engage people in collective action. We present three different people power strategies – mobilising, organising and playing by the rules – and explore how these different strategies generate varied pathways for leadership development. We identify the strengths and limits of each strategy, and we find that peer learning, mentoring, learning by doing, confrontation, reflective spaces and training are important leadership development tools. This article’s greatest strength comes from the positionally of us as researchers – two of us are student strikers, and the third is an active supporter, giving us a distinctively engaged perspective on a powerful movement for change.
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Intersectional analyses are increasingly common in sociology; however, analyses of voting tend to focus on only race, class, or gender, using the others as control variables. We assess whether and how race, class, and gender intersect to produce distinct patterns of voter engagement in presidential elections 2008–2016. Per existing research, we find income strongly predicts White voting. However, the class gap in voting is not statistically significant among Black voters. In contrast to common characterizations of Black people as politically disengaged, lower income Black citizens are more likely to vote than their White counterparts. Moreover, the lowest earning Black women vote at dramatically higher rates than any other race-gender combination in this income group. These findings call into question the perceived universality of the income gap in voting and widespread claims that more resources directly facilitate voting. They also have implications for our understanding of political participation, social inequality, and democratic citizenship.
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Purpose: This paper conceptualizes a just leadership learning ecology through an analysis of one nontraditional site of leadership preparation: the Highlander Research and Education Center (originally founded as the Highlander Folk School). Methodology: Drawing on cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) and institutional theory (IT), we examine the core design and pedagogy of Highlander, which co-founder, Myles Horton, referred to as the “Highlander idea.” Findings: We illustrate how a residential learning and living environment, norms of epistemic humility and democratic decision making, and horizontal teaching and learning roles fostered social justice leadership. This just leadership learning ecology reflected institutions present at the time of Highlander's founding, including cultural scripts rooted in prophetic Christianity, class consciousness, and unfolding social movements in Appalachia and the South. Implications: Our analysis of Highlander extends recent efforts to re-envision the how and who of leadership preparation and addresses the observed lack of coherence within this subfield.
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There are differences between Black and White leadership. Black leaders have overcome many obstacles simply to be given the opportunity to lead, often without the same tools and opportunities as their White counterparts. The evolution of Black leaders, whether called colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, or BIPOC (Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Color) or Other speaks to how language and people have evolved to coalesce around issues of equality, equity, oppression, and polarization. This essay presents some leadership styles and provides some background on types of Black leaders and how they lead. From political leaders, to thought leaders, to religious leaders, the essay offers some reasons for Blacks’ psychological thirst for healing and relief from the cumulative effects over time of persistently experiencing racism, and the retriggering of psychological trauma of slavery. The relentless battle of physiological pain and the psychological strain and the energy associated with racism can be overwhelming. Some Black leaders offer a “we-ness” of intrapsychic relief that provides a vision of hope for many in the African American community. The essay concludes with positions that recent Black leaders have taken and what the future of Black leadership may be.
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This study explores how undergraduates, as historical thinkers, learn to interact with history and construct their understanding of the past, and examines the role that primary and secondary sources play in narrative construction and revision. Using the African American civil rights movement as a content focus, participants used images to create initial narratives that reflected their understanding of the movement. Half the participants then read an essay on the movement written by a prominent historian, and the other half examined 18 primary sources that reflected the historian’s interpretation of the movement. Participants then each created a second narrative, again selecting images to depict their understanding of the movement. The results of the study suggest that even as students work with primary sources, they need an effective narrative framework based on recent scholarship to forge powerful counter-narratives that transcend outdated interpretations and historical myths. In terms of teaching and learning about the lengthy struggle for racial justice in the United States, simply encouraging teachers and students to ‘do history’ and conduct their own online research is unlikely to change persistent narrative structures that continue to enable and excuse systemic racism.
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This article addresses the role of community learning within social movements and the fight for social justice and human rights. To understand contemporary social movements and their role in community learning and advocacy for social change, it is essential to contextualize them within the long history of Black women's activist labor and accomplishments. The #BLM movement is presented as a continuation of Black women's longstanding inclusive activism, punctuated by the Abolition, Suffrage, Civil Rights, and modern feminist movements. It highlights the efforts of specific Black women community leaders in creating counterpublics that make claims to power and work to change the status quo. Black women, through their inclusive, community-based activist endeavors, continue to carve out fugitive spaces and counterpublics where counternarratives are actively generated to fight for a more equitable and inclusive democracy that serves all. This article conceptualizes the role of adult education in social movements and transformative change.
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The 1960s-era, Nashville nonviolent civil rights movement-with its iconic lunch counter sit-ins-was not only an exemplary local movement that dismantled Jim Crow in downtown public accommodations. It was by design the chief vehicle for the intergenerational mentoring and training of activists that led to a dialogical diffusion of nonviolence praxis throughout the Southern civil rights movement of this period. In this article, we empirically derive from oral-history interviews with activists and archival sources a new "intergenerational model of movement mobilization" and assess its contextual and bridge-leading sustaining factors. After reviewing the literatures on dialogical diffusion and bridge building in social movements, we describe the model and its sustaining conditions historical , demographic, and spatial conditions-and conclude by presenting a research agenda on the sustainability and generalizability of the Nashville model.
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Objective This article assesses contemporary artists whose creative practices operate within the contested space of memorial ecologies in order to frame monuments, heritage landscapes, and memorial ecologies within artistic discourses. Method Through interdisciplinary methodologies including artist interviews, art historical and humanities-based analyses and artistic practice, this article assumes a hybrid form of scholarly essay, interview, and visual intervention. Result This article resulted in a collaborative project that critically examines public representations of memory narratives from an art historical lens, and functions as a creative text that visualizes slippages of narrative, form, and meaning paralleling the operations, gestures, and strategies of visual artists addressing monument discourses. Conclusion We conclude that artists prompt critical and unexpected interrogations of monument discourses and memorial ecologies that serve to deconstruct, critique, and disrupt hegemonic narratives of these objects and relations, and work to construct new interpretative strategies and alternative models of understanding.
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Vital Difference: The Role of Race in Building Community is the result of a multi-year collaboration between MITʼs Center for Reflective Community Practice (CRCP) and five community organizations engaged in building democratic participation aimed explicitly at addressing racial exclusion. This collaborative aimed to use the reflective learning process developed by CRCP to enable practitioners from these communities to access the tacit knowledge that is embedded in their practice. Vital Difference demonstrates the power of this reflective process by offering a glimpse into the extensive knowledge developed by the five community-based organizations regarding the role of race in community building. Vital Difference makes the case that (1) practitioner knowledge is critical for advancing the field of community building, (2) race is of fundamental importance in community-building work, and (3) engaging race drives the reinvention of the tools and processes best suited to building meaningful and lasting democratic participation.
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Role-play was a popular educational strategy within the American civil rights movement. Many civil rights activists performed the movement in private before performing it again in public. Compared to the scholarship on the role of music in the civil rights movement, the importance of drama has been understudied. The history of role-play as an educational strategy provides new insights into the relationship between performance and nonviolent activism, and offers an alternative genealogy of applied theatre.
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‘The Ethics of Writing History in the Traumatic Afterlife of Lynching’ raises questions about the ethical obligations of historians who write about historical traumas like lynching, in particular when the subjects of their histories cannot give consent for their violent and deeply personal stories to be published in books and articles. This essay argues that, though historians are charged with unearthing the ‘truth’ of the past without whitewashing or tempering violence, bigotry, and the like, we also have an obligation to preserve the dignity and privacy of the victims and survivors of historical trauma. Some stories (or certain parts of stories), like those of Black women who were raped as part of a lynching ritual, may be legitimately unspeakable, especially given the real potential to veer into the gratuitous and threaten to re-objectify victims and retraumatize survivors. Expanding upon an essay by Teju Cole, ‘Death in the Browser Tab,’ that critiques the ease with which anyone can access videos of police shootings, this essay proposes strategies for forging ethical relationships with these historical subjects and navigating these difficult writing choices.
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What is African American Politics? What form should it take? How does it conceptualize white supremacy? In In the Shadow of Du Bois, Robert Gooding-Williams uses the work of W. E. B. Du Bois and Fredrick Douglass to provide answers to these questions. While the choices of Douglass and Du Bois make a great deal of sense, they reproduce the tendency of confining political theory to literature – a move that bounds the genre in problematic ways. In this article, I in effect attempt to “unbound” the genre by considering Ella Baker, a civil rights era political organizer.
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The police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and other Black people in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic inspired the largest mass protests against structural racism since the 1960s. These interlocking crises also encouraged higher education scholars and instructors to reassess how to teach social justice in virtual settings. Drawing from political education programs, past and present, and higher education scholars’ and experts’ insights on online instruction and community building, I reconceive a class I taught, “Resisting State Violence: Race, Policing, and Social Justice in Twentieth Century America,” as a synchronous virtual course. In this chapter, I illustrate how historians and other instructors in higher education could teach students histories of oppression and resistance, but also to develop organizing tools to engage their environments in-person or virtually.
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The paper explores mobilization to reduce the deepest inequalities in the two largest democracies, those along caste lines in India and racial lines in the United States. I compare how the groups at the bottom of these ethnic hierarchies—India’s former untouchable castes (Dalits) and African Americans —mobilized from the 1940s to the 1970s in pursuit of full citizenship: the franchise, representation, civil rights, and social rights. Experiences in two regions of historically high inequality (the Kaveri and Mississippi Deltas) are compared in their national contexts. Similarities in demographic patterns, group boundaries, socioeconomic relations, regimes, and enfranchisement timing facilitate comparison. Important differences in nationalist and civic discourse, official and popular social classification, and stratification patterns influenced the two groups’ mobilizations, enfranchisement, representation, alliances, and relationships with political parties. The nation was imagined to clearly include Dalits earlier in India than to encompass African Americans in the United States. Race was the primary and bipolar official and popular identity axis in the United States, unlike caste in India. African Americans responded by emphasizing racial discourses while Dalit mobilizations foregrounded more porously bordered community visions. These different circumstances enabled more widespread African American mobilization, but offered Dalits more favorable interethnic alliances, party incorporation, and policy accommodation, particularly in historically highly unequal regions. Therefore, group representation and policy benefits increased sooner and more in India than in the United States, especially in regions of historically high group inequality such as the Kaveri and other major river Deltas relative to the Deep South, including Mississippi.
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This paper discusses the concept of race consciousness and how it might be used in empirical work on race politicalization among American blacks. The concept is traced to an earlier phase of American sociological writings. General principles are suggested for its operationalization in studying a wide range of observable behavior. Particular attention is directed to representing adequately the actor's meaning. Recent research is criticized in light of conceptual and methodological limitations with regard to this area. Recommendations are made concerning types of data needed to further theoretical understanding of links among institutions, social change, and race consciousness.
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This article uses social movement and organization theory to develop a set of concepts that help explain social movement continuity. The theory is grounded in new data on women's rights activism from 1945 to the 1960s that challenge the traditional view that the American women's movement died after the suffrage victory in 1920 and was reborn in the 1960s. This case delineates a process in social movements that allows challenging groups to continue in nonreceptive political climates through social movement abeyance structures. Five characteristics of movement abeyance structures are identified and elaborated: temporality, purposive commitment, exclusiveness, centralization, and culture. Thus, social movement abeyance structures provide organizational and ideological bridges between different upsurges of activism by the same challenging group.