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Debating the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1968

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0847690541
ISBN-10: 0847690547
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This edifying compilation of diverse documents and the rich Lawson/Payne debate is certain to stimulate lively exchanges in and out of classrooms about movement origins, gender and class issues within, and the politics of naming. Debating the Civil Rights Movement is an important book that forces us to rethink the meaning of leadership in, arguably, the most significant movement for social change in 20th century America. Debating the Civil Rights Movement is a passionate dialogue of interpretative difference by two exquisite historians. Steven Lawson and Charles Payne's insightful and provocative essays bracket astutely selected primary documents that challenge us all, students, scholars, and general readers to ask new questions and revisit old assumptions. Lawson and Payne have given to us an uniquely exciting, useful, and yes, unsettling, book. (Darlene Clark Hine)

As President Clinton's recent Initiative on Race makes clear, 'race' has for centuries been a central contradiction within American democracy life. Payne and Lawson carefully document the richly diverse history of the struggle to desegregate American society. This outstanding volume illustrates fully the accomplishments and limitations of the Second Reconstruction. Debating the Civil Rights Movement makes an important scholarly contribution to our understanding of a shared racial history. (Marable, Manning)

This splendid analytic treatment of the civil rights era should be required reading for undergraduates and scholars alike. (John Dittmer)

A useful, readable, and provocative book from a series that aims to bring important current historiographical and methodological debates into undergraduate classrooms. Debating the Civil Rights Movement is so well done, however, that is is also highly recommended for nonspecialist graduate students and even professors look to brush up on their civil rights historiography. (Derek Catsam H-Pol)

This splendid volume is the first of a new series that takes a fresh approach to the task of presenting different viewpoints about our recent past. This volume consists of just two essays written from opposing perspectives but comprehensive in their treatment of the subject under discussion. Indeed Lawson and Payne are such fair-minded and careful scholars that many readers may carry away the notion that not as much separates them in their debate as is officially claimed. That the excellence of the essays mutes some of the conflict between them does not diminish the value of this challenging approach to twentieth-century America. (The Journal Of Southern History)

These are both excellent essays. They will make an interesting book, a wonderful book to teach, and a superb learning tool. (Harvard Sitkoff)

A useful, readable, and provocative book from a series that aims to bring important current historiographical and methodological debates into undergraduate classrooms. This book is so well done, however, that it is also highly recommended for nonspecialist graduate students and even professors looking to brush up on their civil rights historiography. (H-Net Reviews)

If the other books in the series are as well considered as this one they should prove a great aid to a better understanding of the nature of historical writing. These books would appear to be useful vehicles to initiate classroom discussions on the topics covered as well as the question of 'truth' in historical study. (Race Relations Abstracts)

About the Author

Steven F. Lawson is professor of history at Rutgers University and author of Running for Freedom: Civil Rights and Black Politics in America since 1941. He lives in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Charles Payne is professor of history and African-American studies at Duke University and author of I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Payne lives in Durham, North Carolina.
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Product Details

  • Series: Debating Twentieth-Century America
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (November 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847690547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847690541
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,755,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book is about broadening the perspective of the Civil Rights Movement. Included is information that opens the view of the Civil Rights Movements beyond the white wash easy to feel proud of version that is taught in schools. Looking at the movements from the top down, as in court decisions or laws made, as well as then looking from a grass roots perspective gives a fuller understanding of how far we have come and how far we need to go. It allows for a deeper look at those that did not make the newspapers, the news, or the media and their input, sacrifices, and struggles. Well worth the read.
Both authors utilize documents from the period that give a broader look and a deeper understanding of the situation if not the decisions made by the United States government, presidents, and congress during these times. The Civil Rights Movement is often thought of as a bus boycott, I Have a Dream, and voting rights, it's so much more and this book is short, easy to read, and easy to comprehend the concepts within. Highly recommended especially for students or those feeling a deeper look into Civil Rights is warranted.
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Charles Payne is the essential historian of the civil rights movement. His interview with Bob Moses in this collection is an excellent example of his depth of understanding of SNCC and the organising philosophy behind the CRM that succeeded in cracking segregation and terror-enforced white supremacy in the Deep South.
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I read this book for a class on Civil Rights at the University level. It consists of two sides of a debate, with a number of documents attached by each author to support his position. In summary, it pits the "big-event" theory of the civil rights movement ("top down" by Lawson) against the bottom-up approach argued by Payne. Both arguments are very well done and by putting the two positions together the reader will have a nicely-balanced summary of the civil rights movement in the middle of the 20th Century.
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Very interesting book for those who would like to see another side of the civil rights movement. This book really highlights the grassroots effort of the everyday person of that time. It also compares that to the government reaction at that time.
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