The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory
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The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory

Title Details

Pages: 408

Illustrations: 19 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 05/01/2006

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2814-0

List Price: $36.95

The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Contributors

The movement for civil rights in America peaked in the 1950s and 1960s; however, a closely related struggle, this time over the movement's legacy, has been heatedly engaged over the past two decades. How the civil rights movement is currently being remembered in American politics and culture—and why it matters—is the common theme of the thirteen essays in this unprecedented collection.

Memories of the movement are being created and maintained—in ways and for purposes we sometimes only vaguely perceive—through memorials, art exhibits, community celebrations, and even street names. At least fifteen civil rights movement museums have opened since 1990; Mississippi Burning, Four Little Girls, and The Long Walk Home only begin to suggest the range of film and television dramatizations of pivotal events; corporations increasingly employ movement images to sell fast food, telephones, and more; and groups from Christian conservatives to gay rights activists have claimed the civil rights mantle.

Contests over the movement's meaning are a crucial part of the continuing fight against racism and inequality. These writings look at how civil rights memories become established as fact through museum exhibits, street naming, and courtroom decisions; how our visual culture transmits the memory of the movement; how certain aspects of the movement have come to be ignored in its "official" narrative; and how other political struggles have appropriated the memory of the movement. Here is a book for anyone interested in how we collectively recall, claim, understand, and represent the past.

A timely and comprehensive exploration of Toni Morrison's novels to date as they relate to black masculinity, Mayberry's Can't I Love What I Criticize? is a major contribution to ongoing literary, historical, and social discussions regarding African American gender relations and the formation of community.

—W. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

This is a very impressive collection of essays that contributes in important ways to the already strong literature on the Civil Rights Movement, and its enduring legacy, meanings, and consequences.

—Waldo E. Martin Jr., University of California Berkeley

This challenging collection offers a fundamental reframing of the 'civil rights’ struggle. By treating that struggle as the site of 'intense ideological struggle,' as one author puts it, these essays provide the questions which will allow to better understand the current historical moment as well as the past.

—Charles M. Payne, Duke University

Romano and Raiford have compiled a volume that deserves a wide readership by historians and especially the public. It is a timely volume, with original, interdisciplinary research (only three of the thirteen essays have been published before) that provokes further reflection on the meaning of the Civil Rights Movement. . . . The editors have done an admirable job of compiling essays from a variety of perspectives. . . . Classes on historical methods, public history, contemporary America, and the Civil Rights Movement would especially benefit from these essays, but historians will find uses for them in other classes as well. . . . This is an excellent book and all the contributors, the press, and especially the editors deserve congratulations for bringing this work together. It is a labor well worth the time and energy that produced it.


Timely and important . . . This collection is an important opening statement in what is sure to become a vital conversation for scholars of the civil rights movement and of American memory.

Reviews in American History

Succeeds in showing how the memories of the civil rights movement are fiercely contested, inherently political, and deployed by different people to vastly different ends. Perhaps most importantly, it illustrates that the movement, both in terms of its legacies and its real social and political gains and shortcomings, is far from finished and still wide open to interpretation and debate.

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Above all, the essays in this collection seek to highlight the relevance to contemporary politics and culture of these struggles over a 'proper' telling of the civil rights story.

Journal of American History

Will inspire its readers to rethink the complexities of this important chapter of U.S. history and of how the story of the Civil Rights Movement is being told and retold as the actual events move further into the past.

—Southern Cultures

Derek H. Alderman

Owen J. Dwyer

Rebecca Edwards

Glenn T. Eskew

Steve Estes

Jennifer Fuller

Tim Libretti

David John Marley

Edward P. Morgan

Kathryn Nasstrom

Sarah Vowell

About the Author/Editor

Renee C. Romano (Editor)
RENEE C. ROMANO is an associate professor of history and African American studies at Wesleyan University and the author of Race Mixing.

Leigh Raiford (Editor)
LEIGH RAIFORD is an assistant professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley.