Black History Month Spotlight: ‘Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties’

by Kasie Pleiness on February 10, 2016

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Throughout February, the University of Michigan Press will be featuring several titles for Black History Month.

In Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties, Clarence Lang argues that the black social movements of the Civil Rights era present an obstacle to understanding the current conditions of African Americans. According to Lang, “the Sixties persists in the public imagination today in large part because it parallels the tumultuous historical period we currently inhabit.” Perpetuating the Sixties as a point of political, social, and cultural reference has the potential to limit black Americans’ contemporary political thinking and activism. Combining interdisciplinary scholarship, political reportage, and personal reflection, Lang sheds powerful light on the forces underlying the stark social and economic circumstances facing African Americans today, as well as the need for cautious optimism alongside sober analysis. Lang concludes that, “if there is any usable lesson that we should take from the Sixties, it is the need for the mundane, routinized, cooperative work of reforming and consolidating the infrastructure of black civil society devastated by neoliberalism.”

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