Between the 1950s and 1970s, Black Power coalesced as activists advocated a more oppositional approach to fighting racial oppression, emphasizing racial pride, asserting black political, cultural, and economic autonomy, and challenging white power. In Concrete Demands, Rhonda Y. Williams provides a rich, deeply researched history that sheds new light on this important social and political movement, and shows that the era of expansive Black Power politics that emerged in the 1960s had long roots and diverse trajectories within the 20thcentury. Looking at the struggle from the grassroots level, Williams highlights the role of ordinary people as well as more famous historical actors, and demonstrates that women activists were central to Black Power. Vivid and highly readable, Concrete Demandsis a perfect introduction to Black Power in the twentieth century for anyone interested in the history of black liberation movements.
Black women have traditionally represented the canvas on which many debates about poverty and welfare have been drawn. For a quarter century after the publication of the notorious Moynihan report, poor black women were tarred with the same brush: "ghetto moms" or "welfare queens" living offthe state, with little ambition or hope of an independent future. At the same time, the history of the civil rights movement has all too often succumbed to an idolatry that stresses the centrality of prominent leaders while overlooking those who fought daily for their survival in an often hostileurban landscape. In this collective biography, Rhonda Y. Williams takes us behind, and beyond, politically expedient labels to provide an incisive and intimate portrait of poor black women in urban America. Drawing on dozens of interviews, Williams challenges the notion that low-income housing was a resoundingfailure that doomed three consecutive generations of post-war Americans to entrenched poverty. Instead, she recovers a history of grass-roots activism, of political awakening, and of class mobility, all facilitated by the creation of affordable public housing. The stereotyping of black women,especially mothers, has obscured a complicated and nuanced reality too often warped by the political agendas of both the left and the right, and has prevented an accurate understanding of the successes and failures of government anti-poverty policy. At long last giving human form to a community of women who have too often been treated as faceless pawns in policy debates, Rhonda Y. Williams offers an unusually balanced and personal account of the urban war on poverty from the perspective of those who fought, and lived, it daily.
The past fifteen years have seen renewed interest in the civil rights movement. Television documentaries, films and books have brought the struggles into our homes and classrooms once again. New evidence in older criminal cases demands that the judicial system reconsider the accuracy of investigations and legal decisions. Racial profiling, affirmative action, voting districting, and school voucher programs keep civil rights on the front burner in the political arena. In light of this, there are very few resources for teaching the civil rights at the university level. This timely and invaluable book fills this gap. This book offers perspectives on presenting the movement in different classroom contexts; strategies to make the movement come alive for students; and issues highlighting topics that students will find appealing. Including sample syllabi and detailed descriptions from courses that prove effective, this work will be useful for all instructors, both college and upper level high school, for courses in history, education, race, sociology, literature and political science.