November 20, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North

Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North

Thomas J. Sugrue

Language: English

Pages: 736

ISBN: 0812970381

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Sweet Land of Liberty is Thomas J. Sugrue’s epic account of the abiding quest for racial equality in states from Illinois to New York, and of how the intense northern struggle differed from and was inspired by the fight down South. Sugrue’s panoramic view sweeps from the 1920s to the present–more than eighty of the most decisive years in American history. He uncovers the forgotten stories of battles to open up lunch counters, beaches, and movie theaters in the North; the untold history of struggles against Jim Crow schools in northern towns; the dramatic story of racial conflict in northern cities and suburbs; and the long and tangled histories of integration and black power. Filled with unforgettable characters and riveting incidents, and making use of information and accounts both public and private, such as the writings of obscure African American journalists and the records of civil rights and black power groups, Sweet Land of Liberty creates an indelible history.

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miserably. Finding blacks to move into Levittown proved to be difficult. One early “very good candidate” had “an attractive manner and is very intelligent and thoughtful” but could not be persuaded to move in. By contrast, another black family lacked “the smoothness, sophistication, or intellectual development which might be desirable in this case.” In one of the greatest ironies of the search process, the Quakers—members of a traditional peace church—found some of their most promising recruits

undeveloped—revolutionary consciousness. As Watts burned in August 1965, Max Stanford declared that “a guerilla war” had erupted. Thrilled at the revolutionary moment, he wrote: “One group of Freedom Fighters would drive through the liberated areas hurling objects through plate glass windows, and then they would set the stores afire. A Reparations Detachment would usually be on hand to claim any material goods which could be carried to the homes of the revolutionaries.” Not all leftists shared

under the new COINTELPRO, the FBI planted informants in nearly every major and minor black power organization. Working closely with the FBI, local police officials pursued black activists doggedly, both overtly and covertly, often with devastating long-term consequences. The Panthers faced especially intense scrutiny because of their militancy and their direct confrontations with the police. Over the last three years of the 1960s, the Panthers escalated the war of rhetoric and law enforcement

depended on having black faces dealing with black constituents. The number of black social workers, preschool teachers, welfare caseworkers, and government clerical workers skyrocketed. In addition, Community Action Agencies became a training ground for a whole generation of black political leaders in the North. Most striking was the significant increase of women in positions of responsibility in antipoverty organizations and in government writ large. The emphasis on community organization tapped

“Nazi-minded mobsters who would sacrifice their country for a Hitlerite principle.” “Detroit is dynamite,” wrote a reporter for Life magazine after the Sojourner Truth battle. “It can either blow up Hitler or blow up the U.S.” In the summer of 1943, the arsenal exploded. On a hot summer day in late June, the worst race riot since the Tulsa, Oklahoma, massacre of 1921 (where as many as three hundred blacks had been killed) erupted in Detroit. The conflagration began on Saturday, June 20, at the

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