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Mainstreaming Black Power

Tom Adam Davies (Author)


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Mainstreaming Black Power upends the narrative that the Black Power movement allowed for a catharsis of black rage but achieved little institutional transformation or black uplift. Retelling the story of the 1960s and 1970s across the United States—and focusing on 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. This book emphasizes that Black Power’s reach and legacies can be understood only in the context of an ideologically diverse black community.

1 • “A Mouthful of Civil Rights and an Empty Belly”: The War on Poverty and the Fight for Racial Equality
2 • Community Development Corporations, Black Capitalism, and the Mainstreaming of Black Power
3 • Black Power and Battles over Education
4 • Black Mayors and Black Progress: The Limits of Black Political Power

Tom Adam Davies is Lecturer in American History at the University of Sussex.
“This book is an outstanding contribution to an expanding body of innovative, insightful, and original scholarship on the Black Power movement. Davies builds upon an already firm foundation of histories produced in the last ten years, ultimately producing the most substantive and significant study of the impact of Black Power on the American political mainstream.”—Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, author of Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity

“Davies’s argument about the role of white public policy makers in shaping the impact of Black Power is compelling. He demonstrates hard-thinking that brings together often-discrete historiographies behind an overarching interpretation. His case studies highlight the tension between social justice and technocratic solutions to urban poverty. Davies has provided the best analysis I have seen of why Black Power was more moderate and influential than is sometimes acknowledged, but also why the benefits to African Americans of post­–Voting Rights Act black politics have turned out to be so constrained.”—Anthony J. Badger, author of FDR: The First Hundred Days

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