This week in North Philly Notes, we highlight ten Temple University Press titles that reflect the values and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer
In their pioneering book, Envisioning Emancipation, renowned photographic historian Deborah Willis and historian of slavery Barbara Krauthamer have amassed 150 photographs—some never before published—from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s. The authors vividly display the seismic impact of emancipation on African Americans born before and after the Proclamation, providing a perspective on freedom and slavery and a way to understand the photos as documents of engagement, action, struggle, and aspiration.
The 2002 revelation at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park that George Washington kept slaves in his executive mansion in the 1790s prompted an eight-year controversy about the role of slavery in America’s commemorative landscape. When the President’s House installation opened in 2010, it became the first federal property to feature a slave memorial.
In Upon the Ruins of Liberty, Roger Aden offers a compelling account that explores the development of this important historic site and the intersection of contemporary racial politics with history, space, and public memory.
Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America by Daniel R. Biddle and Murray Dubin
Octavius Valentine Catto was a civil rights pioneer who risked his life a century before the events that took place in Selma and Birmingham. In Tasting Freedom Daniel Biddle (winner of the Pulitzer Prize) and Murray Dubin painstakingly chronicle the life of this charismatic black leader—a “free” black man whose freedom was in name only. Catto electrified a biracial audience in 1864 when he called on free men and women to act and to educate the newly freed slaves, proclaiming, “There must come a change.” With a group of other African Americans who called themselves a “band of brothers,” he challenged one injustice after another. Tasting Freedom presents the little-known stories of Catto and the men and women who struggled to change America. This book will change your understanding of civil rights history.
Philadelphia Freedoms: Black American Trauma, Memory, and Culture after King by Michael Awkward
Philadelphia Freedoms captures the disputes over the meanings of racial politics and black identity during the post-King era in the City of Brotherly Love. Looking closely at four cultural moments, he shows how racial trauma and his native city’s history have been entwined. Awkward introduces each of these moments with poignant personal memories of the decade in focus, chronicling the representation of African American freedom and oppression from the 1960s to the 1990s. Awkward closes his examination of racial trauma and black identity with a discussion of candidate Barack Obama’s speech on race at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center, pointing to the conflict between the nation’s ideals and the racial animus that persists even into the second term of America’s first black president.
Tensions in the American Dream: Rhetoric, Reverie, or Reality by Melanie E.L. Bush and Roderick Bush
Could the promise of upward mobility have a dark side? In Tensions in the American Dream, Melanie and Roderick Bush ask, “How does a ‘nation of immigrants’ pledge inclusion yet marginalize so many citizens on the basis of race, class, and gender?” The authors consider the origins and development of the U.S. nation and empire; the founding principles of belonging, nationalism, and exceptionalism; and the lived reality of these principles.
Tensions in the American Dream also addresses the relevancy of nation to empire in the context of the historical world capitalist system. The authors ask, “Is the American Dream a reality questioned only by those unwilling or unable to achieve it? What is the ‘good life,’ and how is it particularly ‘American’?”
Jesus, Jobs, and Justice: African American Women and Religion by Bettye Collier-Thomas
Jesus, Jobs, and Justice provides a remarkable account of the religious faith, social and political activism, and extraordinary resilience of black women during the centuries of American growth and change. As co-creators of churches, women were a central factor in their development and as Collier-Thomas skillfully shows black church women created national organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women, the National League of Colored Republican Women, and the National Council of Negro Women to fight for civil rights and combat discrimination. While religion has been a guiding force in the lives of most African Americans, for black women it has been essential. Jesus, Jobs, and Justice restores black women to their rightful place in American and black history and demonstrates their faith in themselves, their race, and their God.
From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism by Patricia Hill Collins
Despite legislation designed to eliminate unfair racial practices, the United States continues to struggle with a race problem. Some thinkers label this a “new” racism and call for new political responses to it. Using the experiences of African American women and men as a touchstone for analysis, Patricia Hill Collins examines new forms of racism as well as political responses to it.
In this incisive and stimulating book, renowned social theorist Patricia Hill Collins investigates how nationalism has operated and re-emerged in the wake of contemporary globalization and offers an interpretation of how black nationalism works today in the wake of changing black youth identity. Hers is the first study to analyze the interplay of racism, nationalism, and feminism in the context of twenty-first century black America.
The African American Jeremiad: Appeals for Justice in America by David Howard-Pitney
Begun by Puritans, the American jeremiad, a rhetoric that expresses indignation and urges social change, has produced passionate and persuasive essays and speeches throughout the nation’s history. Showing that black leaders have employed this verbal tradition of protest and social prophecy in a way that is specifically African American, David Howard-Pitney examines the jeremiads of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, as well as more contemporary figures such as Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes. This revised and expanded edition demonstrates that the African American jeremiad is still vibrant, serving as a barometer of faith in America’s perfectibility and hope for social justice.
A City within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Todd E. Robinson
A City within a City examines the civil rights movement in the North by concentrating on the struggles for equality in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Historian Todd Robinson studies the issues surrounding school integration and bureaucratic reforms as well as the role of black youth activism to detail the diversity of black resistance. He focuses on respectability within the African American community as a way of understanding how the movement was formed and held together. And he elucidates the oppositional role of northern conservatives regarding racial progress.
Black Power Ideologies: An Essay in African American Political Thought by John T. McCartney
In a systematic survey of the manifestations and meaning of Black Power in America, John McCartney analyzes the ideology of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s and places it in the context of both African-American and Western political thought. Focusing on the intense legal activity of the NAACP from the 1930s to the 1960s, McCartney gives extensive treatment to the moral and political leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his challenge from the Black Power Movement in 1966.