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Rhonda Williams Black Power

Decent Essays
Civil rights or black power, which of the two approaches was the dominant one in the twentieth-century African American struggle for racial and social equality? For Rhonda Williams the answer is, without a doubt, the latter one. In her book Concrete Demands, she argues that black power and not civil rights strategies were the dominant force in twentieth-century African American activism. That said, it is important to note that Williams differentiates between “black power” and “Black Power.” While the latter one stands for a specific historical period of ideologically informed activism that left an indelible mark on African American politics and culture, the first one, black power with small letters has been central to African American political…show more content…
First of all, she suggests that the term black power emerged out of a broader attempt of African American empowerment and consequently characterizes a broad and timeless objective. Different from civil rights activism, which was based on a broad interracial coalition, the politics of black empowerment, while not generally opposed to coalitions with Whites, promoted political and social activism independent from Whites. Black Power paid more attention to the allocation of power and aims to end African Americans dependence on Whites’ changing goodwill. Black Power with big B and big P represents the specific historical period during which African American activists developed and practiced “oppositional ideologies and politics.” Their activism was “unapologetically” Black, informed by ideas of Black consciousness and pride that emphasized self-determination and racial autonomy. The following is a summary of the structure and the context of the book: Concrete Demands is divided into two main sections. The first one illustrates the ideological roots and practical routes that informed the Black Power movement of the 1960s. The book’s first two chapters narrate the historical context of the different forms and ideas of black empowerment starting in 1917. In discussing the various progenitors of the Black Power activists, Williams portrays the multifaceted ideological and practical traditions, as well as the international foundations of early black power activism. The third chapter concentrates on the years 1963-66, a pivotal period in the African American liberation struggle during which Whites’ continuing resistance to Blacks’ long overdue participation in the political realm led many activists to take alternative routes to achieve lasting Black empowerment. The second part of the book is devoted to the specific historical period—the Black Power era. Chapter four
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