The blossoming of interest in black history since the 1950s was directly linked to the rise of Martin Luther King and the post-Second World War Civil Rights Movement. The advances achieved in desegregation and black voting rights since the 1950s suggested that this was a destination that King's children, and African Americans as a whole, would ultimately reach. In the inter-war years there were indications that some scholars were willing to examine the more depressing realities of black life, most notably in a series of academic studies on lynching. The book discusses the approach of Du Bois to the academic studies on black migrants from a sociological perspective. When African American history began to command more serious attention in the mid-1960s, the generation of historians who had had direct personal experience of the Great Depression and the Second World War began to reach the age of retirement. The book also examines the achievements of race leaders like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, the Black Power Movement and Black Nationalism of the 1960s. In a 1996 study, political scientist Robert C. Scholarly debate on the African American experience from the 1890s through to the early 1920s gathered momentum with fresh studies on the spread of racial segregation and black migration to the cities. The rise of feminism and popularity of women's history prompted academic researchers to pay attention to the issue of gender in African American history. Stereotyped depictions of African Americans in US popular culture are also discussed.
had been martyred in 1968, he had at least claimed to have a vision of a future promised land. The advances achieved in desegregation and blackvotingrights since the 1950s suggested that this was a destination that King’s children, and African Americans as a whole, would ultimately reach.
In contrast, research into the unrelenting misery, degradation and despair that seemingly characterized African American life at the start of the twentieth century was a less obvious source of inspiration. The daily struggles against racial injustice by black Americans at this
by a white judge in the United States, ostracised by his own community for his support of blackvotingrights. Phillips, similarly, has condemned those critics who implied Barry Unsworth’s novel about the slave trade, Sacred Hunger (1992), was an inappropriate book for a white author to write: ‘Those morons … who suggest he “culturally appropriated” material should ask themselves serious questions about who was involved in slavery. It wasn’t just black people, it was white people too. It was their history’. 10 In illustrating that slavery has connected people
century constituted a nadir in US race relations, reflected in the wholesale denial of blackvotingrights in the southern states and the spread of racial segregation throughout the nation. Members of the mainstream historical profession shared the racial values of the society that shaped their intellectual development. White scholars thus showed an almost complete lack of interest in the experiences of African Americans, even when the subject matter of their research appeared to make it a fundamental requirement. In his influential 1918 study American Negro Slavery
savagery – supposedly indigenous to
South East Asia.10
Russell was also a long-term supporter of the rights of African Americans.
In a speech in 1942, he said that “[t]he Negroes […] represent the greatest
failure of democracy in the United States, and until some justice is accorded
to them it cannot be maintained that democracy exists here.”11 Russell condemned restrictions on blackvotingrights, segregation (whether by law
or custom), and the violence and economic discrimination faced by black
people. In that same speech, he also highlighted ludicrous racist
of self-promotion that risked drawing away support from other liberal-thinking candidates who were serious contenders for the nomination. Moreover, Jackson personified an anachronistic style of thinking in African American society. He represented an elitist and hierarchical form of church leadership associated with the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. Although this may have been appropriate at that time, the sweeping advances in blackvotingrights achieved since meant that it was now black political candidates accountable through the ballot box
elaborate election laws whittled away at blackvotingrights.”41 Racial violence and lynching had emerged in the course of
a political campaign against Reconstruction. When Reconstruction ended
in 1876, farmers ensured that lynching developed into a diffuse instrument
to subjugate African American freedmen. Later, they supported racial terror
as instrument for maintaining segregation. Without serious rivals to contest
their speciﬁc commitment to and dependence on sharecropping, commercial
farmers used their regional inﬂuence and authority within state governments
’s Democratic successor, John F. Kennedy during his term in office from 1961–63. In another important study Steven Lawson concentrated on the struggle for blackvotingrights in the American South from the end of the Second World War through to the mid-1960s. 10
Although such works marked important contributions in terms of the development of knowledge and understanding, viewed from another perspective early studies of the civil rights struggle were as notable for the topics that were neglected as for those that were addressed. In many areas of historical scholarship the