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Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama's Black Belt



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New York Univ Pr
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Winner of the 2010 Clinton Jackson Coley Award for the best book on local history from the Alabama Historical AssociationEarly in 1966, African Americans in rural Lowndes County, Alabama, aided by activists from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), established an all-black, independent political party called the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO). The group, whose ballot symbol was a snarling black panther, was formed in part to protest the barriers to black enfranchisement that had for decades kept every single African American of voting age off the county's registration books. Even after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, most African Americans in this overwhelmingly black county remained too scared even to try to register. Their fear stemmed from the county's long, bloody history of whites retaliating against blacks who strove to exert the freedom granted to them after the Civil War.Amid this environment of intimidation and disempowerment, African Americans in Lowndes County viewed the LCFO as the best vehicle for concrete change. Their radical experiment in democratic politics inspired black people throughout the country, from SNCC organizer Stokely Carmichael who used the Lowndes County program as the blueprint for Black Power, to California-based activists Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, who adopted the LCFO panther as the namesake for their new, grassroots organization: the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. This party and its adopted symbol went on to become the national organization of black militancy in the 1960s and 1970s, yet long-obscured is the crucial role that Lowndes County"historically a bastion of white supremacy"played in spurring black activists nationwide to fight for civil and human rights in new and more radical ways.Drawing on an impressive array of sources ranging from government documents to personal interviews with Lowndes County residents and SNCC activists, Hasan Kwame Jeffries tells, for the first time, the remarkable full story of the Lowndes County freedom struggle and its contribution to the larger civil rights movement. Bridging the gaping hole in the literature between civil rights organizing and Black Power politics,Bloody Lowndesoffers a new paradigm for understanding the civil rights movement.

Author Biography

Hasan Kwame Jeffries is an associate professor in the history department and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University.

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrationsp. xi
List of Abbreviationsp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. 1
Conditions Unfavorable to the Rise of the Negro: The Pursuit of Freedom Rights before the Civil Rights Erap. 7
I Didn't Come Here to Knock: The Making of a Grassroots Social Movementp. 39
We Ain't Going to Shed a Tear for Jon: School Desegregation, White Resistance, and the African American Responsep. 81
I'm Going to Try to Take Some of the Freedom Here Back Home: The Federal Government and the Fight for Freedom Rightsp. 117
We Gonna Show Alabama Just How Bad We Are: The Birth of the Original Black Panther Party and the Development of Freedom Politicsp. 143
Tax the Rich to Feed the Poor: Black Power and the Election of 1966p. 179
Now Is the Time for Work to Begin: Black Politics in the Post-Civil Rights Erap. 207
Epilogue: That Black Dirt Gets in Your Soul: The Fight for Freedom Rights in the Days Aheadp. 247
Notesp. 253
Bibliographyp. 303
Indexp. 317
About the Authorp. 348
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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