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Nonviolence before King

The Politics of Being and the Black Freedom Struggle

By Anthony C. Siracusa

Nonviolence before King

Approx. 288 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

Justice, Power, and Politics

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 Director of Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi.
For more information about Anthony C. Siracusa, visit the Author Page.


"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, Baruch College

"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