Death Blow to Jim Crow

Erik. S. Gellman. Death Blow to Jim Crow. The National Negro Congress and the Rise of Militant Civil Rights (call number)

During the Great Depression, black intellectuals, labor organizers, and artists formed the National Negro Congress (NNC) to demand a “second emancipation” in America. Over the next decade, the NNC and its offshoot, the Southern Negro Youth Congress, sought to coordinate and catalyze local antiracist activism into a national movement to undermine the Jim Crow system of racial and economic exploitation. In this pioneering study, Erik S. Gellman shows how the NNC agitated for the first-class citizenship of African Americans and all members of the working class, establishing civil rights as necessary for reinvigorating American democracy.
Much more than just a precursor to the 1960s civil rights movement, this activism created the most militant interracial freedom movement since Reconstruction, one that sought to empower the American labor movement to make demands on industrialists, white supremacists, and the state as never before. By focusing on the complex alliances between unions, civic groups, and the Communist Party in five geographic regions, Gellman explains how the NNC and its allies developed and implemented creative grassroots strategies to weaken Jim Crow, if not deal it the “death blow” they sought.

About the National Negro Congress

National Negro Congress, 1935 – 1940’s

Embodying the Communist Party’s turn from Third Period sectarianism to Popular Front coalition building, the National Negro Congress (NNC) was the culmination of the Party’s Depression-era effort to unite black and white workers and intellectuals in the fight for racial justice, and marked the apex of Party prestige in African American communities. (Read more)

About Jim Crow

Jim Crow Laws (WGBH American Experience. Freedom Riders)

The segregation and disenfranchisement laws known as “Jim Crow” represented a formal, codified system of racial apartheid that dominated the American South for three quarters of a century beginning in the 1890s. The laws affected almost every aspect of daily life, mandating segregation of schools, parks, libraries, drinking fountains, restrooms, buses, trains, and restaurants. (Read more)

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow (PBS Series)

Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people. Named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans, “Jim Crow” came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States. (See more)

 

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