Mainstreaming Black Power upends the narrative that the Black Power movement provided a catharsis for black rage but achieved little institutional transformation or black uplift. Retelling the story of the 1960s and 1970s across the United States in New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, this book reveals how the War on Poverty cultivated black self-determination politics and demonstrates that federal, state, and local policies during this period bolstered economic, social, and educational institutions for black control. Mainstreaming Black Power shows more convincingly than ever before that white power structures did engage with Black Power in specific ways that tended ultimately to reinforce rather than challenge existing racial, class, and gender hierarchies. It emphasizes that Black Power’s reach and legacies can only be understood in the context of an ideologically diverse black community.
Tom Adam Davies is a Lecturer in American History at the University of Sussex.