A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

by Jeanne Theoharis
A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

by Jeanne Theoharis

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Overview

This “bracing corrective to national mythology” around the American civil rights movement “shows us how little we remember, and how much more there is to understand (New York Times).

“Theoharis’s view of history is expansive” as it reveals the diverse, unsung heroes of the movement and criticizes the oversimplification of complex figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. (O Magazine).

The civil rights movement has become national legend, lauded by presidents from Reagan to Obama to Trump, as proof of the power of American democracy. This fable, featuring dreamy heroes and accidental heroines like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, anchors the movement firmly to the past, whitewashes the forces that stood in its way, and diminishes its scope.

Award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects this national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light. She makes us reckon with the fact that far from being acceptable, passive or unified, the civil rights movement was unpopular, disruptive, and courageously persevering. Activists embraced an expansive vision of justice, which a majority of Americans opposed and which the federal government feared.

Her challenge of this fable reveals the immense barriers and repression activists faced. She explores the diversity of people who led the movement, especially women and young people; the work and disruption it took, including the public demonization of ‘rebels;’ and the role of the media and “polite racism” in maintaining injustice.

A More Beautiful and Terrible History will change our historical frame, revealing the richness of our civil rights legacy, the uncomfortable mirror it holds to the nation, and the crucial work that remains to be done.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807063484
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 662,901
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Jeanne Theoharis is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College of City University of New York. She is author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles on the history of the Black freedom struggle and the contemporary politics of race in the United States. Theoharis’s New York Times bestselling biography The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks won the 2014 NAACP Image Award and the Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians.

Table of Contents

PREFACE
A Dream Diluted and Distorted

THE HISTORIES WE GET

INTRODUCTION
The Political Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History and Memorialization in the Present

THE HISTORIES WE NEED

CHAPTER ONE
The Long Movement Outside the South: Fighting for School Desegregation in the “Liberal” North

CHAPTER TWO
Revisiting the Uprisings of the 1960s and the Long History of Injustice and Struggle That Preceded Them

CHAPTER THREE
Beyond the Redneck: Polite Racism and the “White Moderate”

CHAPTER FOUR
The Media Was Often an Obstacle to the Struggle for Racial Justice

CHAPTER FIVE
Beyond a Bus Seat: The Movement Pressed for Desegregation, Criminal Justice, Economic Justice, and Global Justice

CHAPTER SIX
The Great Man View of History, Part I: Where Are the Young People?

CHAPTER SEVEN
The Great Man View of History, Part II: Where Are the Women?

CHAPTER EIGHT
Extremists, Troublemakers, and National Security Threats: The Public Demonization of Rebels, the Toll It Took, and Government Repression of the Movement

CHAPTER NINE
Learning to Play on Locked Pianos: The Movement Was Persevering, Organized, Disruptive, and Disparaged, and Other Lessons from the Montgomery Bus Boycott

AFTERWORD
A History for a Better World

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index
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