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Pure Fire: Self-defense As Activism In The Civil Rights Era Hardcover – February 21, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Strain's Pure Fire is a worthy addition to the ever-evolving historiography of the modern civil rights movement. The book's generous use of biographical form...provides compelling storylines to go along with more theoretical considerations.... Students and scholars of the civil rights movement, and more broadly of the twentieth-century United States, would do well to familiarize themselves with this book." --Michael S. Martin, Louisiana History

About the Author

Christopher Strain is an assistant professor of history and American studies at Florida Atlantic University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (February 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820326860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820326863
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,300,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Strain shifts the perspective on much of the civil-rights activism in the 1960s. For the most part, African Americans were not so much trying to make a new political order or create new social and economic ground as simply acting in self-defense. This makes sense when one considers that at the time, blacks were subject to institutionalized racism and frequently the targets of violence by whites with the tacit approval of the white political and legal authorities. In such circumstances, self-defense "was an essential part of the struggle for citizenship itself." Struggling for equality in education, employment, opportunity, etc., the various forms of black activism from Martin Luther King's nonviolent tactics to demonstrations and boycotts to occasional armed resistance cannot be regarded as anything other than self -defense; which self-defense is recognized in law and is an inherent part of psychology and behavior of all individuals. The title comes from Malcolm X's comment that he was urging African Americans to return "pure fire" to whites' hatred and suppression of them. Strain--teaching history and American studies at Florida Atlantic U.--also notes a statement by a Robert Williams before a Congressional committee that he urged his followers that "we should fight for the enforcement of the Constitution of the United States." Others have noted the character of self-defense in the civil-rights activism. But Strain goes far beyond simply giving a nod to this. He explores debates within the black community on the effectiveness and risks of violence in response to blatant and covert white violence and oppression; recounts the beliefs of proponents of violence such as Malcolm X; and assesses the role of advocating violence and instances of committing it in the changes worked by the civil-rights movement.
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Excellent essays on an aspect of American history not often talked about.
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