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Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000 Paperback – June 25, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142001295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142001295
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fairclough (To Redeem the Soul of America; Martin Luther King, Jr.), who teaches American history at the University of East Anglia, aims to present "an interpretation of the black struggle for equality in the United States between 1890 and 2000, concentrating on the South." The first half of the book covers 1890 to 1919, with sketches of such individuals as Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. Quickly reviewing major events (e.g., the Great Migration, the Scottsboro affair), Fairclough guides readers through the 1910s, '20s and '30s, examining the failure of Garvey's black nationalism and recognizing the role of the Communist Party in fighting racism. After that, the book addresses a m‚lange of topics: education, employment, World War II, anti-communism, Brown v. Board of Education, the Montgomery bus boycott, the sit-ins, the 1965 Los Angeles riots and the Poor People's Campaign. He also analyzes the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., and the effects of the Black Power movement on the struggle for black civil rights. The final chapter, despite the subtitle's promise, skims over the remaining decades of the century. An easy read that relies heavily on secondary sources, this work may disappoint serious students of African-American history with its cursory treatment of some material. Still, Fairclough's approach will probably suit his intended audience, "the general reader... who may have little or no knowledge about the history of race relations since the American Civil War."

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Fairclough (To Redeem the Soul of America), who teaches American history at the University of East Anglia (U.K.), has written an overview of the American civil rights movement from the turn of the 19th century to the present. Intended specifically for the general reader, the book covers the major aspects of the black struggle for equality, although it slights the Harlem Renaissance and devotes only one brief chapter to the period since 1968. The author argues that this struggle featured conflict and interplay among three models of action-accommodation, confrontation, and separatism. Although it adds little to what experts in the field already know, this well-written work is a fine general introduction to the topic. Recommended especially for public libraries. A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Gillespie on November 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Societal evolution seldom travels a straight path. As Professor Adam Fairclough succinctly titles one chapter of Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality 1890-1910, human progress tends to be "two steps forward, one step backward". Several decades after the book opens with the collapse of Reconstruction, American blacks are in a worse condition than they were immediately after the Civil War. The title seems almost ironic as segregation grows stronger and black life becomes harsher between the world wars.
However, this book doesn't claim to be a sociological study but a historical account of 110 years. In that sense it falls short.
Better Day Coming's greatest weakness is its attempt to cover the period of 1890-2000. The last chapter opens immediately after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., but apparently the author thinks little of import followed the civil rights leader's murder. The years between 1968 and 2000 are covered in a sketchy 14 pages that fail to mention prominent figures such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Fairclough dances around current issues relevant to the black community. Rodney King gets more mention than Jesse Jackson. The author is an educator and the last chapter resembles a textbook that acknowledges the latter material is insignificant and probably won't be covered on the final exam. Better Days Coming would have been much stronger if it focused only on the period between Reconstruction and the death of Dr. King.
Nonetheless, Professor Fairclough is a crisp writer. Although the problem noted above (along with one superfluous chapter that inexplicably rehashes previous material) hurts this book, it has strengths.
Better Day Coming predictably chronicles the lives of such prominent luminaries as Ida Wells, Booker T. Washington, W.E.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S Wood on March 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
The focus of Adam Faircloughs book, as is evident from the title "Better Day Coming", is on black efforts at fighting for full citizenship within American society. Things had become extremely bleak for them after the radical Republicans (it was not an oxymoron in the 1860's and 70's) efforts at Reconstruction were defeated, and blacks lost their vote and representatives, land and legal equality. Any attempts at seeking re-dress were brutally put down by Southern Democrats and the Klu Klux Klan. Faircloughs narrative takes the reader from those bleak times through the variety of accommodations and rebellions, dead-ends and progress, that make up the black experience in America up to the end of the twentieth century.

A good deal of this history is focussed on the personalities that stood out in black history, from militants such as the forthright campaigner against lynching Ida B. Wells at one end of the spectrum, to the black Americans Samuel Smiles - Booker T. Washington, with many others including Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King. Fairclough doesn't ignore some of the movements (the communist party, the NAACP, the Black Panthers, etc) or events (the civil rights movement, the legal battles, the battle for integration, etc). In short he captures a good deal of the black Americans twentieth century experience and struggle for equality.

If there is a shortcoming in the book it is Fairclough can be on occasions a little wishy-washy in his narrative. Sometimes in his efforts to achieve "balance" he appears a little lame, merely repeating both sides of the argument without making a judgement, or calculating the costs and benefits of actions on the struggle for black equality.
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By Seth Chavez on July 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
Racism is terrible, amongst the things done in the name of oppressing a people. Very good book.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Norrell on April 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book that has been reviewed by too few people and two of them are clearly ignorant of the subject and the literature in the field of civil rights. Adam Fairclough is without question one of the smartest and most balanced historians of American race relations in the world--he holds a chair at a leading Dutch university. BETTER DAY COMING reflects more than 30 years of research on many aspects of American race issues, and he is not a partisan of this group or that ideology but a strict empiricist who weighs evidence carefully and critically and writes clear and concise prose. He tries to be comprehensive in his coverage and fair to all historical actors. He does not disparage the moderates of the NAACP or the radicals of Black Power but simply adds up what they did and did not accomplish. No scholar knows more about MLK and SCLC than Fairclough, though others have spilt far more ink writing about him and ended up saying less. I recommend this book to all who want a sophisticated understanding of the black protest experience.
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Happy on March 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
A very basic and scantily researched attempt at addressing an otherwise important time in American History. The author has a way of presenting his myopic view of history in a manner that makes watching paint dry, a much more entertaining prospect.
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