Barack Obama and the Contours of African American Social Protest Movements

Editor's note: The following is the text of a presentation made to the Labor Left Project meeting in New York City delivered this past May 14th. It is an early version of a chapter in Dr. Marable's new forthcoming book New Social Movements in the African Diaspora: Challenging Global Apartheid (Palgrave Macmillan). (Used with the author's permission.)

Now, in the past the American Negro has had instructive experience in the choosing of group leaders, founding thus a peculiar dynasty which in the light of present conditions is worth while studying. When sticks and stones and beasts form the sole environment of a people, their attitude is largely one of determined opposition to and conquest of natural forces. But when to earth and brute is added an environment of men and ideas, then the attitude of the imprisoned group may take three main forms, – a feeling of revolt and revenge; an attempt to adjust all thought and action to the will of the greater group; or, finally, a determined effort at self-realization and self-development despite environing opinion. The influence of all of these attitudes at various times can be traced in the history of the American Negro, and in the evolution of his successive leaders. – W.E.B. Du Bois, 1903 [i] The fundamental impulse behind all major African American social movements throughout US history has been the quest for 'freedom.' During much of the long nightmare of human bondage, lasting nearly 250 years, freedom had a clear and unambiguous meaning: the shattering of shackles, the elimination of whips and chains, the reuniting of Black families who had been divided and sold apart, the ownership of farms and private property by Blacks, and the personal and collective feelings of safety and integrity that are guaranteed by state power and constitutional authority.

Deeply embedded within even these notions of Black freedom, moreover, were two strategic concepts implying collective action to maximize Black civic capacity. The strongest of these was the struggle for equality.

Supported primarily but not solely by the African American middle class, the diverse social movements that championed the cause of equality generally called for the outlawing of racial segregation laws, the granting of Blacks' voting rights, and the guarantee of civil liberties and Constitutional rights. A second tendency, drawing upon greater working-class support, can be described as the social movement for collective 'self-determination.'

Many Blacks perceived themselves as an oppressed national minority group, or even a 'nation,' with a distinctive history, culture, traditions and a unique political history. As such, they had the right to determine for themselves what kinds of political arrangements should define Blacks' relationships to the US nation-state. In everyday political terms, African American activists who favored this perspective since the nineteenth century have called themselves 'Black nationalists.' Tactically, Black nationalist-oriented social movements have encouraged the development of Black-owned enterprises, the cultivation of a Black business class, the initiation of political, cultural and commercial contacts with Africa, the Caribbean and other regions of the African Diaspora, and the construction of African-centered cultural rituals and identities that reinforce an oppositional politics to the US nation-state. There have also been specific historical periods within the Black experience when the levels of political and economic oppression against African Americans have been so overwhelming and totalitarian, that Black leaders have emerged who promoted acquiescence and accommodation to white supremacy.

The outstanding example of this was Black educator Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and the architect of the notorious 'Atlanta Compromise' of 1895, in which Blacks surrendered their civil rights, the elective franchise and racial integration in return for segregated Black consumer markets, Black agricultural development, vocational schools and Black-owned institutions.[ii] Washington aggressively opposed Black participation in trade unions and rejected coalitions between working class Blacks and whites. Politically he supported white conservatives – Republicans like Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft at the federal level, and conservative Democrats locally in the Deep South. From 1895 to his death in 1915, Washington deployed his influence through a network of hundreds of political operatives, government appointees, newspaper editors, and Black entrepreneurs called the 'Tuskegee Machine,' that favored accommodation politics. Washington's hegemony in African American politics was challenged by liberal and radical Blacks, most powerfully by W.E.B. Du Bois and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Undoubtedly Du Bois's characterization of a Black leadership that adjusts to the 'will of the greater group' was a negative reference to Washington.[iii]

After World War I until the beginning of the 1950s, the general trend of national Black politics was usually the struggle for equality. There were of course important exceptions, for brief periods of time. One spectacular model of Black nationalist activism in the 1920s, for example, was Jamaican Black nationalist Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, which attracted over one million followers.[iv] On the left, socialist A. Philip Randolph initiated the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first successful African American union in 1925, and led the first March on Washington Movement in 1941, which forced President Franklin Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 8802 outlawing racial discrimination in hiring policies by war industries with federal government contracts.[v]

In the 1920s and 1930s, the racial domain – the predominant sets of power relations between racialized groups, and the political economy and cultural institutions that manufactured 'race' – in the United States and South Africa were strikingly similar. The major event that kept the US racial formation from evolving – or degenerating – toward the terrible destiny of South Africa's 1948 election and the triumph of legal apartheid, were the political victories of the left during the Great Depression, led in part by the US Communist Party, and by the growth of an organized Black freedom movement especially in US northeastern and Midwestern states. The successful legal reforms of the modern Civil Rights Movement, such as the passage by state legislatures of civil rights enforcement codes and nondiscrimination in employment, began in the 1940s in the North. By the late 1940s, as South African descended into fascist barbarism, the racially segregated US was positioned for a different political future.

From the vantage point of contemporary Black history modern African American leadership inside the United States emerged with two critical events. The first was a legal victory: the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the legality of racially segregated schools in Brown v. Board of Education in May 1954. The high court declared in its ruling 'that in the field of public education the doctrine of `separate but equal' has no place.' The following year, the Supreme Court urged the adoption of desegregation plans by public schools 'with all deliberate speed.' The Brown victory was the culmination of decades of legal and political efforts by the NACCP and other civil rights groups.

Finally, over 90 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans could demand of the federal government their Constitutional rights to a quality education for their children, without the barriers and material inequities of 'Jim Crow,' the US version of racial apartheid.[vi]

The second political event occurred in Montgomery, Alabama, on 1 December 1955, when Rosa Parks, a respected seamstress and a NAACP local activist, refused to relinquish her seat to a white man, while riding on a segregated public bus. Local Black labor union leader E. D. Nixon, outraged by Parks' arrest, urged the African American community to stage a one-day boycott of Montgomery's buses. A Black professional women's group, the Women's Political Council led by educator Jo Ann Robinson, was largely responsible for the successful city-wide mobilization to protest Jim Crow regulations in public transportation. On Monday, 5 December, over 95 percent of all Blacks refused to ride the buses. Six thousand Black people gathered that night at Montgomery's Holt Street Baptist Church, and reached a consensus to continue the nonviolent protest indefinitely. A Black coalition, the Montgomery Improvement Association, was created, which selected a young, little-known Baptist minister as its chief spokesperson – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On 13 November 1956, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the boycott, and struck down the city's segregation ordinance for public transportation. The modern Black freedom movement had achieved a decisive victory, and the struggle had found a new spokesperson in the powerful and charismatic Dr. King.[vii]

Historians who study and document the lives of political leaders frequently make the mistake of telling a story from the vantage point of 'great' people's (usually men's) lives. To be sure, an unusual number of talented and extraordinary Black women and men came into the public arena to push forward measures to outlaw American apartheid: Dr. King; the Reverend David Abernathy, King's closest friend and confidante; the brilliant tactician Bayard Rustin; Medgar Evers, the leader of Mississippi's NAACP branch who was brutally assassinated in front of his home and family in 1963; Septima Poinsette Clark, who created the Citizenship Education program, which taught thousands of poor and illiterate Blacks to read, write, and to register to vote; the courageous Ella Baker, veteran of civil rights organizations, who inspired the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960; the legendary Fannie Lou Hamer, a former cotton field laborer, who co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and challenged the whites-only state delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention; and Gloria Hayes Richardson, who led the desegregation campaign in Cambridge, Maryland.[viii]

Many of the veterans of the Black Freedom Movement of the 1950s and the 1960s would later successfully move into electoral politics, such as King lieutenant Andrew Young, who was elected to Congress in 1972, subsequently appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977, and then was elected mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, in 1981. Another prominent example of public leadership is that of civil rights attorney Marian Wright Edelman. Born in South Carolina in 1939, Edelman earned her law degree at Yale University, and worked with various civil rights groups. In 1968, Edelman was the Congressional liaison for King's Poor People's Campaign. Five years later, she founded the Children's Defense Fund, a nonprofit agency that today is the most prominent advocate group advancing the interests of America's children, regardless of their race or ethnicity.[ix]

How has the challenge of Black leadership changed over the past half century? African American politics in the 21st century is defined by what I call the 'paradox of integration.' At no previous time in American history have there been more influential and powerful Black elected officials and government administrators serving in the nation's capital. Back in 1964, the year that the Civil Rights Act was signed, which outlawed racial segregation in public accommodations, the total number of Blacks in Congress was five; the total number of African American mayors of major US cities, towns and even villages was zero; the combined total of all Black officials throughout the United States in 1964 was a paltry 104. This meant, in practical terms, that the voice of Black political leadership largely emanated from two sources: the African American Christian religious community, such as the Progressive Baptist Convention, and its representatives, including leading Civil Rights clergy like Dr. King, Dr. Abernathy, Wyatt T. Walker, Fred Shuttlesworth, and others. Secondly, there was the mainstream Civil Rights community, represented by NAACP national secretary Roy Wilkins, NAACP Legal Defense Fund director Thurgood Marshall, the Congress of Racial Equality leader James Farmer, and Urban League director Whitney Young.

These individuals possessed radically different approaches and tactics in their efforts to challenge Jim Crow Segregation. But what they all had in common was a strategic understanding about what the fight was about. Few of them entertained any illusions about trying to get themselves elected to Congress. Their goal was the vigorous advocacy of what they perceived to be Blacks' interests, and to use a variety of means-nonviolent demonstrations, economic boycotts, lobbying Congress to pass legislation, etc., to pressure white leaders and institutions to make meaningful concessions.

The passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the widespread exodus of white racist 'Dixiecrats' into the Republican Party, led to the rise of the African American electorate as a central component within the national Democratic Party. The number of African- American officials soared: from about 1,100 in 1970 to 3,600 by 1983. The Congressional Black Caucus was formed in 1971 to bring greater leverage within Congress for African American demands. In March 1972, thousands of Blacks met in Gary, Indiana, to form a 'National Black Political Assembly,' with the explicit idea of constructing a comprehensive 'Black Agenda' of public policy issues that would guide the actions of newly elected officials across the country. Some of us involved in the Assembly even anticipated the establishment of an all-Black Independent Political Party, where Blacks could exercise the greatest possible freedom in negotiating deals between white parties and institutions.[x]

During the 1980s, political events triggered a fundamental transformation in the internal dynamics of Black leadership nationally and in the agendas it pursued. First, the rise of a powerfully assertive Congressional Black Caucus largely superseded the political influence of the NAACP and other civil rights organizations as the chief formulators of national Black public policy. Second, the dramatic electoral campaigns of Harold Washington, running successfully for Chicago's mayor in 1983 and 1987, combined with the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition presidential campaigns of 1984 and 1988, illustrated Black vocal protests (aimed chiefly against President Ronald Reagan's conservative public policy agendas) could use electoral politics as a vehicle for mobilizing masses of people of different races and classes behind a Black progressive agenda. Jackson did not win the Democratic presidential nomination, but his dramatic success in garnering over seven million popular votes in 1988, and in winning numerous primary elections and caucus states proved that a Black or Latino presidential candidate could, under the right set of circumstances, win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Although Jackson was himself a Christian minister, his electoral campaigns shifted the focus of Black politics away from the Black church and civil rights groups finally into the secular electoral arena. In the quarter century since the civil rights marches of Birmingham, Selma, and Memphis, 'Black politics' had been redefined itself from militant economic boycotts and street demonstrations, from the establishment of racial 'Freedom Schools,' by and from the Black Power-inspired League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit, to mainstream electoral participation within the existing system. [xi]

But the Jackson presidential campaigns also revealed the deep reservoir of resistance by millions of whites to Black leadership at a national level. A state-by-state review of Jackson's 1988 Democratic caucus and primary results, for example, illustrated that in states where the total population of minorities was relatively low, whites were less resistant to voting for a Black candidate for president. In Vermont, where African Americans constituted less than one percent of all voters statewide, in 1988 Jackson received 35 percent of the Democratic caucus vote. However, in Ohio, where African Americans made up 14 percent of the state's electorate, 17 percent of white voters backed Jackson. In New Jersey, where Blacks accounted for 20 percent of all Democratic voters, only 13 percent of whites voted for Jackson. It became clear to many African Americans that the Black electorate was increasingly trapped in a paradox of disempowerment: despite the reality that Blacks controlled mayoral offices in major cities and represented at least 20 percent of the national Democratic Party's electorate, they lacked effective allies to dictate new directions for national public policy, or to elect a Black president. This stark recognition formed the basis of the April 21-23, 1989, African American Leadership Summit attracting 1200 delegates in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite successfully attracting a range of public officials and traditional civil rights bureaucrats-including NAACP director Benjamin Hooks, National Urban League director John Jacobs, Coretta Scott King, and Jackson-most delegates under age forty left dispirited and frustrated by the absence of a coherent plan of action. The refusal by middle class integrationist leaders to dialogue with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan also generated confusion.[xii]

The Jackson presidential campaigns of 1984 and 1988, and the anti-apartheid mass mobilizations of the 1980s and early 1990s, both had profound effects on African- American and community-based activism throughout the United States. Jackson's 'Rainbow Coalition,' despite its limited material resources, brought together an unprecedented multiracial block of feminists, trade unionists, lesbian-gay activists, environmentalists, liberal faith-based groups, racialized minorities and many others, around a Black-led candidacy. Most of these groups had only tenuous connections with the national Democratic party. They seized upon the Jackson candidacy as a vehicle for expressing their respective protests. This was particularly the case for African- descended groups, who perceived Jackson's electoral victories primarily as advances in anti-racist political organizing. The Rainbow Coalition illustrated the possibility of a multiracial, multiclass coalition, competing on a national level for the presidency. Local Rainbow groups tended to be dominated by volunteers, rather than by paid staff.[xiii]

This was even more the case with the anti-apartheid mobilizations which intensified in the US in 1985. Hundreds of local efforts across the country operated autonomously from each other. They generally targeted US-based institutions – e.g., banks, corporations, universities – that had invested in South Africa. The mobilization's goal was divestment – the withdrawal of US capital from institutions doing business inside South Africa, contributing to the disruption of the apartheid economy. Despite the Regan administration's policy of 'constructive engagement' with South Africa, which aggressively encouraged US investment and support for the apartheid regime, millions of Americans endorsed the anti-apartheid mobilization. Hundreds of thousands of Americans participated in civil disobedience at South Africa's diplomatic offices and non-violently protested on university campuses, and at institutions that invested in South African related investments. By the late 1980s, under President George H. W. Bush, the US government sharply distanced itself from the South African government, and pressured the regime to enact meaningful reforms including the release of Nelson Mandela in 1991.

From the standpoint of social movements, the anti-apartheid mobilization in the United States was not a coherent monolithic social organization, but was instead a tremendously diverse and uneven in its organization. Anti-apartheid groups rarely had coherent staff or well-structured leadership. They largely operated on the basis of volunteer labor. At local levels they tended to target locally-based institutions, businesses or universities that that had some financial connections with South Africa. Such institutions usually were well established in their own geographical region or city, a reality that permitted interested citizens to make the connection between the role of that local institution with the larger international question of human rights and global anti-racism.[xiv]

Community organizers incorporated many valuable lessons from the national anti-apartheid mobilization into their future activities as agents of social change at the neighborhood level. One valuable dimension was that the anti-apartheid mobilization was multi-racial and multi-class in its composition and orientation. In a similar manner, community organizers in predominately Black neighborhoods like Harlem or the South Side of Chicago began in the 1990s to move away from narrowly-defined race-based efforts to mobilize Blacks on the basis of racial grievances, focusing instead on complex issues of urban inequality that impacted residents regardless of race and ethnicity. It is instructive that Barack Obama's early community organizing experiences while located on the South Side of Chicago were not oriented around issues of race at all. Obama's efforts were to identify issues of urban poverty and the lack of access to opportunity and resources which did affect Blacks in a negative way but also Latinos and other racialized minorities.[xv] Obama's approach to community organizing and political leadership also drew upon the activist model of the civil rights movement from a quarter-century earlier.

Veteran civil rights organizers such as Ella Baker, Medgar Evers and Septima Clark had emphasized the role of 'servant leaders' – a leadership that viewed itself as facilitators rather than those who dictated political outcomes.[xvi] The servant leader's task was to encourage intense group discussion and debate fostering a sense of consensus and a unity of action that could be employed to challenge institutions of power. The servant leader did not approach the question of local organization with the objective of maintaining his or her domination over a long period of time. As SNCC activists of the 1960s used to say, 'Our job is to work ourselves out of a job.'[xvii] This was Obama's philosophy as well, as one can observe from his actual organizing efforts at the neighborhood level in Chicago.

During theses difficult years several thousand grassroots, community-based organizations, based largely but not exclusively on people of African descent, flowered into existence. The largest number of protest groups focused on economic inequality and employment. In Chicago, for example, the Chicago Black United Communities in 1994 picketed construction sites demanding the enforcement of affirmative action provisions, and the hiring of African Americans and Latinos. Similar job pickets promoting minority hiring were led by the new Mount Sinai Baptist Church, in Engelwood, Illinois. In 1994, the mostly Black workers of the Union of Needle Trades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) attempted to force the large retail corporation, Kmart, to negotiate labor agreements in North Carolina. By 1996 UNITE's anti-Kmart demonstrations had spread to Atlanta, Houston, Memphis, and other Southern cities. UNITE built effective coalitions with Black churches and grassroots, local organizations, promoting a political agenda that was both anti-racist and anti-corporate.[xviii]

Hundreds of groups were formed by workers who were not formally members of labor organizations, but who made demands on their employers for economic fairness, fringe benefits and improved working conditions. In North Carolina in the mid-1990s, a series of 'housekeepers associations' were initiated. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the local Housekeepers Association forced the school to grant it formal recognition as a union. At East Carolina University, the campus Housekeepers Association led several well-supported protest demonstrations, including one that culminated on the university chancellor's front lawn. In nearly all of these local struggles, African American churches raised funds, held church suppers and engaged in other supportive activities. What is particularly noteworthy is that this level of support and solidarity was reciprocated. For instance, in Claredon County, South Carolina, when two African American houses of worship were burned by Ku Klux Klansmen, UNITE donated $7500 to each church to help them to rebuild.[xix]

Hundreds of organizations also developed around the unique concerns of young people. By the mid-1990s, hip-hop culture – including rap music, break dancing, graffiti art – had largely come to define all urban youth culture regardless of race. Many young organizers employed hip-hop culture to attract the enthusiastic participation of young people around social justice concerns. Progressive, anti-racist groups like Public Enemy, KRS-One and his group Boogie Down Productions. MC Lyte, and Salt-N-Pepa preached a message of anti Black-on-Black violence, Black pride, and anti-police brutality. Dozens of hip-hop artists became involved in AIDS/HIV educational awareness campaigns, and contributed to community-building efforts. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network in 2001, which was instrumental in reversing one billion dollars in cuts in New York City's 2002 Public School budget. Several years later Simmons' network successfully forced the New York State Legislature to modify the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, reducing mandatory sentences for thousands of mostly Black and brown drug offenders.[xx]

Many of these groups addressed issues of race and criminal justice. The wave of mass incarcerations across the US in the 1990s, with the total prison population growing from one million in 1989 to two million in 2001, generated fierce opposition and protests in both major cities and small towns across the country. In New York City, for example, on 1 May 1994, hundreds of school children and others protested the beating death of Ernest Savon by police on Staten Island. Several years later the mothers of Black and Latino police brutality victims started an annual mass protest, 'Racial Justice Day,' that attracted thousands. With the 4 February 1999 murder of African immigrant Amadou Diallo by the New York Police Department's Street Crimes Unit, and the subsequent legal acquittal of the officers, provoked waves of widespread civil disobedience and nonviolent street demonstrations. Tens of thousands of young people who had been too young to have participated in the 1980s Rainbow Coalition campaigns, or the anti-apartheid mobilizations, learned invaluable lessons in political organizing through these new groups.[xxi]

By the mid and late 1990s a number of community activists who had been involved in grass roots neighborhood activities began to gravitate back toward electoral politics. Like Obama a number of local activists had reluctantly concluded that meaningful change could not be achieved unless there was a substantive transformation within the US political system. More citizens of color and low-income Americans had to become directly involved in the political process in order to achieve long-term effective changes. The difficulty inherent in this position was that the US political system is structurally extremely difficult to change for several basic reasons. First, the political system is not based on a parliamentary democracy model but a winner-take-all electoral system. In individual electoral districts 51 percent of the vote translates into 100 percent of the representation within a particular district. Large minority constituencies, in other words, have no meaningful input or impact on the decision-making and electoral outcomes. Second, money largely dictates political results in US electoral politics. Over 90 percent of all elections are won by the candidate who spends the most money regardless of the candidate's ideology or partisan affiliation. Thirdly, until very recently the majority of white Americans simply would not vote for an African American for public office solely on the basis of race.[xxii]

Fortunately this began to change in the 1990s as an older generation of white Americans who had been educated and influenced under racial segregation began to die out, and a younger generation of whites who did not have the same prejudices began to participate within the political process. By the early 21st century, about 30 percent of all Black elected officials throughout the United States were elected from majority white districts.[xxiii] Increasingly it became common to see Latin Americans and Latinos represent majority white districts in state legislatures, and even in Congress. This new level of racial tolerance and openness also created the context for the successful Obama presidential campaign.

Without question in 2007-2008 Obama's lieutenants ran a brilliant electoral campaign, wisely playing down the African American candidate's ethnic/racial identity, while linking him to the democratic civic values best represented by Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. The economic crisis of 2008-2009 created an unprecedented opening promoting an agenda for democratic renewal and the incorporation of marginalized and oppressed groups into mainstreams of US civic life. Obama won the presidency, in part, because thousands of his volunteers and paid staff learned their formative political lessons inside social movements: fighting to elect Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson, opposing South African apartheid, protesting police brutality cases, defending the labor rights of poor Black workers, denouncing environmental racism. It was these social movements that gave the Obama campaign its overall, activist quality and spontaneous character. The yet unanswered question is whether the activist, militant base of 'Obamaism' can be reconciled with the centrist liberalism which Obama must cleave to, in order to govern. No coherent organized left exists today in US national politics. Therefore, Obama's public policy program by necessity must be to the right of his own core constituency. Whether and how President Obama can balance these divergent forces will be a major test of his leadership.

From the perspective of Black social movements, does the triumph of Obama represent a kind of 'end' to Black politics? A leader of African descent, having achieved state power, has symbolically demonstrated that no fundamental barriers now exist that deny Blacks access to political power. The paradox of integration, unfortunately, is that millions of African descendant Americans remain stigmatized and excluded from employment, quality health care, education and home ownership, relative to whites. These dire conditions, combined with the continuing incidents of police brutality and the mass incarceration of young Blacks guarantee that spontaneous local protests and grassroots mobilizations of African Americans and Latinos will continue to erupt. As during the Great Society, if Obama's reforms are successfully implemented, new levels of activism and Black protest will emerge as a result. A new Black Panthers may soon be on the political horizon.


[i] W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903; reprinted New York: Oxford University Press, 2007, with an introduction by Arnold Rampersad), pp. 22-23.

[ii] Washington's 'Atlanta Compromise,' called the 'Atlanta Exposition Address,' was delivered on 18 September 1895, in Atlanta, Georgia, and reprinted in Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery: An Autobiography (New York: Doubleday, p. 1900). Also see Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972); and Kevin Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the 20th Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

[iii] Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, p. 23.

[iv] There is a massive scholarly literature on Garvey and Garveyism. The preeminent interpreter of Garvey is Robert Hill, whose Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers volumes (Berkeley: University of California Press, Vol. 1 published in 1983 to present) are essential. Also see Randall K. Burkett, Garveyism as a Religious Movement (Metchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1978); Theodore Vincent, Black Power and the Garvey Movement (Berkeley: Ramparts Press, 1971); and Amy Jacques Garvey, Garvey and Garvey ism (Kingston, Jamaica: A. Jacques Garvey, 1963).

[v] See Jervis Anderson, A. Philip Randolph: A Biographical Portrait (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973); and William Harris, Keeping the Faith: A. Philip Randolph, Milton P. Webster, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, 1925-19037 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977).

[vi] See Mark V. Tushnet, Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1936-1961 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); and Juan Williams, Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary (New York: Times Books, 1998).

[vii] See Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (New York: Harpers, 1958); and Jo Ann Robinson The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, David J. Garrow (ed.) (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1987).

[viii] See Manning Marable, Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction and Beyond in Black America, 1945-2006 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007); David L. Lewis, King: A Critical Biography (New York: Praeger, 1970); Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988); and David Garrow, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (New York: Morrow, 1988).

[ix] Marable, Race, Reform and Rebellion, p. 165.

[x] See Marable, Race, Reform and Rebellion, pp. 130-131; The National Black Political Agenda (Washington, D.C.: National Black Political Convention, 1972); and Komozi Woodard, A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).

[xi] On Jesse Jackson, see Adolph Reed, The Jesse Jackson Phenomenon and the Crisis if Purpose in African-American Politics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986); Sheila D. Collins, The Rainbow Challenge (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1986); and Marshall Frady, Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson (New York: Random House, 1996).

[xii] Manning Marable, The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life (New York: Basic Civitas, 2002), pp. 95-97.

[xiii] See Collins, The Rainbow Challenge.

[xiv] To date, there exists no comprehensive social history of the anti-apartheid movement in the United States, between 1984 and 1994. There are however a number of important works, such as Martin Murray's The Revolution Deferred: The Painful Birth of Post Apartheid South Africa (London: Verso, 1995) that make reference to the role of the U.S. in ending apartheid.

The clearest express of U.S. support for the post- apartheid government of Nelson Mandela was President Bill Clinton's address, 'America Needs a Strong South Africa,' Great Hall of Parliament, The Star, Johannesburg, March 27, 1998.

[xv] See Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (New York: Random House, 2006).

[xvi] See Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable, eds., The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero's Life Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches (New York: Basic Civitas, 2005), pp. xx-xxi.

[xvii] See Clayborne Carson, In Struggle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981).

[xviii] Marable, The Great Wells of Democracy, pp. 206-208.

[xix] Ibid, pp. 207-208.

[xx] Ibid, pp. 266-269, 257.

[xxi] Ibid, pp. 209-210.

[xxii] Ibid, pp.68-70.

[xxiii] Rachel L. Swarms, 'Quiet Political Shifts as More Blacks are Elected,' New York Times, October 13, 2008.