Seeing Like an Activist

To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this week's review reexamines civil disobedience during the Civil Rights Movement

Seeing Like an Activist: Civil Disobedience and the Civil Rights Movement

Pineda, Erin R. Oxford, 2021
280p bibl index, 9780197526422 $99.00, 9780197526439 $29.95, 9780197526453

Seeing Like an Activist: Civil Disobedience and the Civil Rights Movement book cover

For decades, the story of the Civil Rights Movement began in 1954, ended in 1965, and profiled two contrasting figures, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s, however, scholars have challenged that simplistic construct, revealing the more complex beginnings of the movement, rescuing from obscurity influential activists, and placing the fight for racial justice within the context of the Cold War. Pineda (Smith College) adds to this evolving narrative an important aspect of the story: the link between civil disobedience within the US and decolonization efforts in Africa. Pineda’s work examines the theory behind the concept of civil disobedience, explaining how activists used the civil disobedience strategy to challenge global white supremacy. In the process she returns to prominence the sometimes forgotten importance of the arrest of Fannie Lou Hamer and others—in addition to their beating—in Winona, Mississippi; the Positive Action Conference of 1960 held in Accra, Ghana (the year 17 new African nations gained their independence); and the attempt to disrupt the 1964 World’s Fair held in New York. Pineda comments on the positions of John Rawls, Peter Singer, and others with respect to civil disobedience, in an introduction that becomes a catalyst for understanding the decision-making of movement activists discussed at length in the book.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students and faculty. General readers.
D. O. Cullen, Arkansas Tech University
Interdisciplinary Subjects: African and African American Studies, Racial Justice
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – North America
Choice Issue: Feb 2022

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