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Nonviolence before King

The Politics of Being and the Black Freedom Struggle

By Anthony C. Siracusa

290 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 6 halftones, 1 map

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6300-5
    Published: June 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6299-2
    Published: June 2021
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6301-2
    Published: May 2021

Paperback Available June 2021, but pre-order your copy today!

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In the early 1960s, thousands of Black activists used nonviolent direct action to challenge segregation at lunch counters, movie theaters, skating rinks, public pools, and churches across the United States, battling for, and winning, social change. Organizers against segregation had used litigation and protests for decades but not until the advent of nonviolence did they succeed in transforming ingrained patterns of white supremacy on a massive scale. In this book, Anthony C. Siracusa unearths the deeper lineage of anti-war pacifist activists and thinkers from the early twentieth century who developed nonviolence into a revolutionary force for Black liberation.

Telling the story of how this powerful political philosophy came to occupy a central place in the Black freedom movement by 1960, Siracusa challenges the idea that nonviolent freedom practices faded with the rise of the Black Power movement. He asserts nonviolence's staying power, insisting that the indwelling commitment to struggle for freedom collectively in a spirit of nonviolence became, for many, a lifelong commitment. In the end, what was revolutionary about the nonviolent method was its ability to assert the basic humanity of Black Americans, to undermine racism's dehumanization, and to insist on the right to be.

About the Author

Anthony C. Siracusa is the Senior Director of Inclusive Cultures and Initiatives at the University of Colorado at Boulder.


For more information about Anthony C. Siracusa, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

“Siracusa has undertaken a remarkably rich excavation of the evolution of nonviolent thought in the decades leading up to the modern civil rights movement and Dr. Martin L. King Jr. As deftly demonstrated here, the genealogy of nonviolent thought in the context of black freedom movements has deep roots…. Through thoughtful, sharp analysis and archival work, this history provides an important complement to the expansive corpus of scholarship on civil rights and nonviolence.”—Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, professor of history at the University of Connecticut and author of Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap

"This book is sorely needed to understand the centrality of nonviolence in the Black freedom struggle and as a corrective to the current state of civil rights historiography."--Clarence Taylor, author of Black Religious Intellectuals: The Fight for Equality from Jim Crow to the 21st Century

"There are other books and articles that cover particular parts of the story of nonviolence but none pieces together the whole story in the way done here."--Paul Harvey, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs