The new conservatism
Black civil rights since 1980
in The Debate on Black Civil Rights in America
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The historiography of the African American experience since 1980 is, for obvious reasons, less expansive than for earlier decades. The subject matter of the first studies of the African American experience in the last two decades of the twentieth century has been influenced by a number of factors. In common with early works on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s there has been a tendency for researchers to concentrate primarily on nationally known leaders and major political and legislative developments. In a 1996 study, political scientist Robert C. Smith concluded that since the 1970s the black Civil Rights Movement had 'been almost wholly encapsulated into mainstream institutions; co-opted and marginalized'. A notable historiographical development of the late 1990s was a sudden proliferation of studies on Louis Farrakhan, leader of the black separatist organization the Nation of Islam.

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