How Long? How Long?: African-American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights / Edition 1

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A compelling and readable narrative history, How Long? How Long? presents both a rethinking of social movement theory and a controversial thesis: that chroniclers have egregiously neglected the most important leaders of the Civil Rights movement, African-American women, in favor of higher-profile African-American men and white women. Author Belinda Robnett argues that the diversity of experiences of the African-American women organizers has been underemphasized in favor of monolithic treatments of their femaleness and blackness.

Drawing heavily on interviews with actual participants in the American Civil Rights movement, this work retells the movement as seen through the eyes and spoken through the voices of African-American women participants. It is the first book to provide an analysis of race, class, gender, and culture as substructures that shaped the organization and outcome of the movement. Robnett examines the differences among women participants in the movement and offers the first cohesive analysis of the gendered relations and interactions among its black activists, thus demonstrating that femaleness and blackness cannot be viewed as sufficient signifiers for movement experience and individual identity. Finally, this book makes a significant contribution to social movement theory by providing a crucial understanding of the continuity and complexity of social movements, clarifying the need for different layers of leadership that come to satisfy different movement needs.

An engaging narrative history as well as a major contribution to social movement and feminist theory, How Long? How Long? will appeal to students and scholars of social activism, women's studies, American history, and African-American studies, and to general readers interested in the perennially fascinating story of the American Civil Rights movement.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Professor Belinda Robnett's book, How Long? How Long?, makes a valuable contribution to the field by providing a workable analytical framework for those scholars studying African American women in the movement." —The Journal of American History

"How Long? How Long? is a very impressive and theoretically rich piece of scholarship by sociologist and women's studies scholar Belinda Robnett. A chapter rethinking social movement theory and one on theoretical conclusions frame the book, with the rise of the civil rights movement in the South and its ultimate unraveling from below by 1966 marking the progression of Robnett's story. Most chapters add fresh insights to understanding the formal organizations, formal and informal leadership, and grassroots mobilization of the civil rights era. Robnett finds complex interactions and offers an exceptionally vivid and compelling specification of the way regional culture, race, gender, class, and education shaped leadership possibilities, roles, and experiences." —Carol Nackenoff in American Political Science Review

"Bound to be controversial, Robnett's How Long? How Long? challenges received perspectives on the role of gender in the Civil Rights Movement. In doing so she has made a major contribution to our understanding of the internal dynamics of social movements. It is both impassioned and impressive."—Mayer Zald, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan

"Belinda Robnett has made a unique contribution to our understanding of the Civil Rights movement and social movements generally. How Long? How Long? clearly demonstrates that gender mattered in the Civil Rights movement and that gender must be taken into account if we are to formulate accurate and comprehensive theories of collective action. This work is based on extensive research which gives voice to the masses of women who played pivotal roles in the Civil Rights movement. Finally a work has appeared that captures the monumental contributions women made to the Civil Rights movement. After reading Belinda Robnett's book, one comes to understand clearly that if it were not for the actions of Black women, there would not have been a Civil Rights movement."—Aldon D. Morris, Northwestern University

"This book rewrites the history of the Civil Rights movement from the standpoint of African-American women. Conceptually, this project joins a recent wave of scholarship in social movements that is beginning to address the intersections of race, class, gender, and social movements. Substantively, this book contributes a beautiful overview of Black women's long history of resistance to race and gender oppression in the United States...No one has ever undertaken such an ambitious project with respect to Black women's activism."—Verta Taylor, Ohio State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195114911
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,011,871
  • Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Belinda Robnett is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Irvine.

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