Core : Study in the Civil Rights Movement, 1942-68

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Product details

  • Hardback | 576 pages
  • 162 x 222 x 42mm | 964.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • 2M.
  • 0195016270
  • 9780195016277

Review Text

A detailed, analytical history of CORE which focuses on its organizational and ideological metamorphoses over a 25-year period. From its origins as a race relations cell within the Christian Fellowship of Reconciliation, Meier and Rudwick (both professors at the Center for Urban Regionalism, Kent State University) trace its steady undramatic advance in the late '40's when it played a leading role in desegregating public facilities in many border cities, to the demoralization of the McCarthy years and the spectacular rebirth which began with lunch counter sit-ins and Freedom Rides of the early '60's. Holding fast to its ideology of Gandhian nonviolence and its direct action tactics, CORE was the spearhead of the Civil Rights movement for approximately six years. The authors scrupulously assess the successes and failures of the various projects from New York to Bogalusa, Louisiana, weighing the effectiveness of field secretaries, regional directors and task force workers, CORE's often vexed relations with the NAACP to its right and SNCC to its left, fiscal policies and crises caused by rapid expansion of staff and programs and the impact of internal conflicts within the leadership. They see 1964-1965 as a crucial turning point: with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voter Registration Act of 1965 CORE faced a "crisis of victory" from which it never recovered. From this time on CORE tried to reorient toward "community organization," a goal which has proved elusive; the fiscal problems intensified as the first urban riots scared off supporters; the rise of black power advocacy without and within the organization attenuated and finally scuttled the commitment to nonviolence; and many whites were driven from the ranks. Thus, while never coming out and baldly saying so, the authors see the new shift to nationalist and separatist positions as essentially self-defeating: funds contracted, leadership eroded and the War on Poverty captured the most experienced integrationists. CORE was finally unable to strike roots in the ghetto and flourished only so long as it remained a middle-class organization. Meier and Rudwick acknowledge that the Vietnam War siphoned off much of the organization's constituency and manpower but the brunt of the responsibility for the loss of momentum is placed on CORE itself - its myriad administrative and economic problems and that omnipresent "revolution of rising expectations" which simply outstripped them. Meticulous and authoritative, this is occasionally longwinded and misses the galvanizing enthusiasm of the early '60's triumphs. But the scholarship more than compensates for the lack of panache. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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