Civil Rights and the Idea of Freedom

Civil Rights and the Idea of Freedom

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Focusing attention on the political ideas that were influential on as well as those that were central to the civil rights movement, this original study examines not only written texts but also oral history interviews to reveal a rich tradition of personal as well as political freedom that emerged from the movement. Making extensive use of interviews with movement participants to discover the language of freedom at the grass-roots level, King makes clear that, though liberal notions of freedom involving the absence of restrictions and equal protections were crucial to movement goals, the Exodus vision of collective liberation, group self-transformation, and participatory freedom figured just as prominently as the removal of barriers to social and political equality. King demonstrates how the creation of a sense of self-worth and freedom within the individual participants of the greater civil rights movement helped revitalize and extend African-American political culture. Along the way, notable individuals (such as Martin Luther King and Ella Baker, Stokely Carmichael and James Forman) and political thinkers (such as Hannah Arendt and Frantz Fanon) are discussed and analyzed. A significant contribution to an understanding of the basic ideas and issues of one of the most transformative movements of our time, Civil Rights and the Idea of Freedom concludes that the civil rights movement helped strengthen the meaning of citizenship and the political importance of self-respect in the contemporary world, with implications reaching far beyond its original setting and time period.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 282 pages
  • 146.6 x 218.4 x 26.9mm | 537.46g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195065077
  • 9780195065077

Back cover copy

Focusing attention on the political ideas that were influential on as well as those that were central to the civil rights movement, this original study examines not only written texts but also oral history interviews to reveal a rich tradition of personal as well as political freedom that emerged from the movement. Making extensive use of interviews with movement participants to discover the language of freedom at the grass-roots level, King makes clear that, though liberal notions of freedom involving the absence of restrictions and equal protections were crucial to movement goals, the Exodus vision of collective liberation, group self-transformation, and participatory freedom figured just as prominently as the removal of barriers to social and political equality. King demonstrates how the creation of a sense of self-worth and freedom within the individual participants of the greater civil rights movement helped revitalize and extend African-American political culture. Along the way, notable individuals (such as Martin Luther King and Ella Baker, Stokely Carmichael and James Forman) and political thinkers (such as Hannah Arendt and Frantz Fanon) are discussed and analyzed. A significant contribution to an understanding of the basic ideas and issues of one of the most transformative movements of our time, Civil Rights and the Idea of Freedom concludes that the civil rights movement helped strengthen the meaning of citizenship and the political importance of self-respect in the contemporary world, with implications reaching far beyond its original setting and time period.show more

Review quote

`King begins with a stimulating analysis of what he calls the "repartory of freedom", showing that freedom as a political concept has numerous meanings ... This excellent study deals with vital but complex issues is a lucid and accessible manner. King makes very good use of oral history, particularly from Howard University's Civil Rights Documentation Project, and has consulted a massive array of published sources, particularly theoretical analyses of freedom and revolution. His fresh perspective on the civil rights movement, deserves to be read by historians and political theorists alike.' American Politics Reviewshow more

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