On the Lived Theology Reading List: The Movement

The Movement: The African American Struggle for Civil Rights, by Thomas C. HoltThe African American Struggle for Civil Rights

Although the civil rights movement was one of the most important mass movements of the twentieth century, and an incredibly pivotal moment in American history, it is often misrepresented and misunderstood by the general American public. In The Movement, Thomas Holt revisits the freedom struggle to provide an informed and nuanced understanding of its origins, character, and objectives, privileging the aspirations and initiatives of the grassroots people who made it possible.

The civil rights movement decisively changed the legal and political status of African Americans, and prefigured the moral premises and methods of struggle for other historically oppressed groups seeking equal standing in American society. Despite that, much of its context and impact has been stripped away, leaving a singular moment, frozen in time at the Lincoln Memorial, to sum up much of what Americans know about an entire decade of struggle. In this book, Holt emphasizes the conditions of possibility that enabled the heroic initiatives of the common folk over those of their more celebrated leaders, and conveys a sense of these developments as a social movement, one that shaped its participants even as they shaped it.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“Thomas C. Holt’s The Movement is a succinct and powerful book… A skilled historian whose powers are on full display in The Movement, he knows the moments when it is best to let the participants themselves summarize the extraordinary power of their struggle.”—The American Scholar

“Covering less discussed moments from America’s struggle for equality, The Movement is a nuanced history that takes layered ideologies and obscured figures into account.”—Foreword Reviews

“Rooted in the author’s personal experience of the movement, this book is a marvelous balance between economy of expression and complexity of thought. Even those well-versed in recent movement scholarship will learn something from this engaging and challenging work. Some parts of the history are more telling than others and Holt has an unerring eye for just those parts.”—Charles M. Payne, author of I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle

For more information on the publication, click here.

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