How Long? How Long?: African American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights

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Oxford University Press, Jan 13, 2000 - Social Science - 272 pages
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A compelling and readable narrative history, How Long? How Long? presents both a rethinking of social movement theory and a controversial thesis: that chroniclers have egregiously neglected the most important leaders of the Civil Rights movement, African-American women, in favor of higher-profile African-American men and white women. Author Belinda Robnett argues that the diversity of experiences of the African-American women organizers has been underemphasized in favor of monolithic treatments of their femaleness and blackness. Drawing heavily on interviews with actual participants in the American Civil Rights movement, this work retells the movement as seen through the eyes and spoken through the voices of African-American women participants. It is the first book to provide an analysis of race, class, gender, and culture as substructures that shaped the organization and outcome of the movement. Robnett examines the differences among women participants in the movement and offers the first cohesive analysis of the gendered relations and interactions among its black activists, thus demonstrating that femaleness and blackness cannot be viewed as sufficient signifiers for movement experience and individual identity. Finally, this book makes a significant contribution to social movement theory by providing a crucial understanding of the continuity and complexity of social movements, clarifying the need for different layers of leadership that come to satisfy different movement needs. An engaging narrative history as well as a major contribution to social movement and feminist theory, How Long? How Long? will appeal to students and scholars of social activism, women's studies, American history, and African-American studies, and to general readers interested in the perennially fascinating story of the American Civil Rights movement.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Rethinking Social Movement Theory Race Class Gender and Culture
12
Social Location and Identity
15
Reconceptualizing Leadership
17
Defining Bridge Leadership
19
Centralized Power Primary and Secondary Formal Organizations and Bridge Organizations
23
Social Movement Theories
26
Charismatic Leadership and Emotion
28
Conclusion
113
Race Class and Culture Matter
115
Interpersonal Relationships in SNCC
118
Race Class Gender and Culture in SNCC
122
Dispelling Sexual Myths
133
Conclusion
137
Bringing the Movement Home to Small Cities and Rural Communities
140
Links Between Community and Organization
143

Emotion and Spontaneity
32
Conclusion
34
Exclusion Empowerment and Partnership Race Gender Relations
36
Black Women in Support of Male Leadership
41
A Glimpse into Black Womens Historic Activism
44
Mary McLeod Bethune and the National Association of Colored Women
45
Mary McLeod Bethune the Roosevelt Administration and A Philip Randolph
46
The Rise of Nonviolent Resistance
49
Conclusion
51
Women and the Escalation of the Civil Rights Movement
53
The Womens Political Council of Montgomery
55
The Formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association
62
Conclusion
68
Sustaining the Momentum of the Movement
71
The Movement Gains Momentum
76
Conclusion
83
Sowing the Seeds of Mass Mobilization
86
Connecting Prefigurative Politics to Strategic Politics
90
Bridge Leaders Gender and the SCLC
93
Conclusion
96
Bridging Students to the Movement
98
Community Bridge Leaders as Temporary Formal Leaders
103
Community Bridge Leaders as Secondary Formal Leaders
107
Women Power and Titled Positions
109
Women Bridge Leaders and Their Heroines
111
Women and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
150
Economic and Physical Reprisals
153
Conclusion
156
Cooperation and Conflict in the Civil Rights Movement
157
Gloria Richardson and the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee
161
Women Bridge Leaders and Formal Male Leaders in Conflict
166
Women Bridge Leaders and CORE
167
Conclusion
170
The Movement Unravels From the Bottom
173
The Rise of the Black Power Movement
178
Women and the Loss of Free Spaces
180
The Collapse of the Bridging Tier within the Social Movement Sector
184
Conclusion
189
Theoretical Conclusions
190
Emotion and Spontaneity in Social Movements
192
Organizational Forms Mobilizing Structures and Charismatic Leaders
193
Political Opportunities and Outcomes
196
Lessons from Our Past
203
The Study
210
Interviews
212
Archives and Primary Sources
214
Notes
216
Bibliography
235
Index
247
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About the author (2000)

Belinda Robnett is Associate Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at the University of California at Davis.

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