On the Lived Theology Reading List: A More Beautiful and Terrible History

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History, by Jeanne TheoharisThe Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

In A More Beautiful and Terrible History, political science professor Jeanne Theoharis aims to bust myths about the civil rights movement. According to Theoharis, the civil rights movement in popular memory has wrongly become “A narrative of dreamy heroes and accidental heroines, the story was narrowed to buses and lunch counters and southern redneck violence.” (pg. xiii) In correcting this inaccurate portrayal the book address numerous issues including the persistence of northern racism, and the unpopularity of Martin Luther King among white Americans. A More Beautiful and Terrible History makes the point that how we tell the history of civil rights struggles is never removed from contemporary political concerns.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“A bracing corrective to a national mythology that renders figures like King ‘meek and dreamy, not angry, intrepid and relentless’…It’s clarifying to read a history that shows us how little we remember, and how much more there is to understand.”—New York Times

“In A More Beautiful and Terrible History, Jeanne Theoharis debunks nearly a dozen national fables of polite civil rights workers humbly petitioning the nation to become a ‘more perfect union.’ The propaganda of America’s exceptionalist history, she demonstrates, not only distorts the truth of the nation’s deep and recurring commitment to systemic racism. These ‘mis-histories’ of the civil rights movement discredit the actual and necessary work of antiracist activists today, whose youthful courage and creativity are the real legacy of the past.”—Khalil Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

“Jeanne Theoharis is one of our nation’s finest civil rights scholars. She brings an incisive, urgent and unique critical perspective to our understanding of an era that is increasingly distorted and misunderstood. A More Beautiful and Terrible History is an important book that sheds new light on our recent past and yields a fresh understanding of our tumultuous present.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

For more information on the publication, click here.

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