The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939

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This book is a multifaceted approach to understanding the central developments in African American history since 1939. It combines a historical overview of key personalities and movements with essays by leading scholars on specific facets of the African American experience, a chronology of events, and a guide to further study.

Marian Anderson's famous 1939 concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial was a watershed moment in the struggle for racial justice. Beginning with this event, the editors chart the historical efforts of African Americans to address racism and inequality. They explore the rise of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and the national and international contexts that shaped their ideologies and methods; consider how changes in immigration patterns have complicated the conventional "black/white" dichotomy in U.S. society; discuss the often uneasy coexistence between a growing African American middle class and a persistent and sizable underclass; and address the complexity of the contemporary African American experience. Contributors consider specific issues in African American life, including the effects of the postindustrial economy and the influence of music, military service, sports, literature, culture, business, and the politics of self-designation, e.g.,"Colored" vs. "Negro," "Black" vs. "African American".

While emphasizing political and social developments, this volume also illuminates important economic, military, and cultural themes. An invaluable resource, The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939 provides a thorough understanding of a crucial historical period.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews


This new eclectic guide proves valuable as a one-stop work for quick reference as well as basic historical research.


This new eclectic guide proves valuable as a one-stop work for quick reference as well as basic historical research.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert L. Harris Jr. is professor of African American history in the Africana studies and research center at Cornell University. The author of Teaching African American History, he has been a W. E. B. Du Bois Fellow at Harvard University.Rosalyn Terborg-Penn is professor of history emerita at Morgan State University. She is the author of African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1929 and the coeditor of several titles, including Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents


Part I: Historical Narrative , by Robert L. Harris Jr. and Rosalyn Terborg-PennInterpreting African American History Since 1939Foundations of the Movement, 1939-57The Civil Rights Movement, 1955-65Black Power / Black Consciousness, 1965-75A Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty

Part II: Key Themes in African American History Since 1939 Naming Ourselves: The Politics and Meaning of Self-designation, by Rosalyn Terborg-PennLooking Backward: African Americans in the Postindustrial Era, by Robin D. G. KelleyAfrican Americans in the Military, by Brenda L. MooreAfrican Americans in Sports: The Other Champions, by Sundiata DjataAfrican Americans in Literature and the Arts, by Kevin Gaines and Penny M. Von EschenBlack Music and Black Possibility: From Be-Bop to Hip-Hop, by Craig WernerBlack Business Development, by Juliet Walker

Part III: Chronology, 1939-2005 Robert L. Harris Jr.

Part IV: A-Z Entries Robert L. Harris Jr. with the assistance of Michelle R. Scott

Part V: Resource Guide Debra Newman Ham

Columbia University Press

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