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A More Beautiful and Terrible History
A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History | Jeanne Theoharis
16 posts | 4 read | 1 reading | 23 to read
Explodes the fables that have been created about the civil rights movement The civil rights movement has become national legend, lauded by presidents from Reagan to Obama to Trump, as proof of the power of American democracy. This fable, featuring dreamy heroes and accidental heroines, has shuttered the movement firmly in the past, whitewashed the forces that stood in its way, and diminished its scope. And it is used perniciously in our own times to chastise present-day movements and obscure contemporary injustice. In A More Beautiful and Terrible History award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects this national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light. We see Rosa Parks not simply as a bus lady but a lifelong criminal justice activist and radical; Martin Luther King, Jr. as not only challenging Southern sheriffs but Northern liberals, too; and Coretta Scott King not only as a "helpmate" but a lifelong economic justice and peace activist who pushed her husband's activism in these directions. Moving from "the histories we get" to "the histories we need," Theoharis challenges nine key aspects of the fable to reveal the diversity of people, especially women and young people, who led the movement; the work and disruption it took; the role of the media and "polite racism" in maintaining injustice; and the immense barriers and repression activists faced. Theoharis makes us reckon with the fact that far from being acceptable, passive or unified, the civil rights movement was unpopular, disruptive, and courageously persevering. Activists embraced an expansive vision of justice--which a majority of Americans opposed and which the federal government feared. By showing us the complex reality of the movement, the power of its organizing, and the beauty and scope of the vision, Theoharis proves that there was nothing natural or inevitable about the progress that occurred. A More Beautiful and Terrible History will change our historical frame, revealing the richness of our civil rights legacy, the uncomfortable mirror it holds to the nation, and the crucial work that remains to be done.
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JSW
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Pickpick

Important and necessary reading for right now. While at times repetitive with ideas and quotes, the writing is impassioned and researched. Let the resistance continue.

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JSW
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If racism is understood not just as an affair of the heart but about material advantage and personal comfort, then the remedy is much different because it means it will cost something to alter.

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JSW
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By making racism only about bombing, blocking, and spitting, the nation gets off easy.

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JSW
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Silence is comfortable. “It is easier to cast protesters as reckless and dangerous than face the comfort and cruel convenience of those on the sidelines of injustice.” Do not be silent.

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JSW
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“And besides, it is easier to build monuments/Than to build a better world.” Damn.

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JSW
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Up next, and just from the preface, required reading.

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mrsh62010

I rarely read non fiction, but this book is very interesting so far. I keep coming across things we were taught about race and America that felt weird to me growing up, in school, in the news, etc and she explains the reason why it felt weird and irons out the truth in a clear picture.

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mrsh62010
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Next up. I saw this on the "new books" display at the library and grabbed it bc I thought I'd heard something about it... Probably either here on Litsy or on NPR. Didn't realize new books have a shorter loan time, so I'm trying to hurry through my current read and get this one back on time as well.

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Nebklvr
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Pickpick

This isn‘t an easy book but it os an important one. Theoharis points out the hypocrasies in treating Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr as THE Civil Rights movement, of ignoring the decades of organized struggle by many people. Teaching the history of Parks And King as one act of defiance and one great speech when both had long histories in the movement.

Nebklvr She points out hypocrisies in Northern reports on Southern racism while redlining and segregation remained in Northern schools. It isn‘t a perfect book, broken up by sections( education, media, etc) many ideas are repeated word for word from other chapters. Received this book as an Early Reviewer copy from LibraryThing. (edited) 2y
WhovianNerd Does the book cover "sundown towns"? I was shocked when I learned those were a Northern thing and not a Southern one. 2y
Nebklvr @WhovianNerd No, but it does cover intimidation and violent tactics used during school desegregation movements in the North and in L.A. I actually went to college in a sundown town. It was the first time I had been exposed to the term. 2y
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Nebklvr
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Coretta Scott King...more than a helpmate

Maria514626 So good. A vacuum cleaner attachment--so vivid! 2y
Nebklvr @Maria514626 Yes—would love to read more about Coretta Scott King 2y
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Nebklvr
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A lesson we still haven‘t learned.

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Nebklvr
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Nebklvr
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Did you know that following Brown vs the Board of Education New York City and Boston fought desegregation? Boston claimed they didn‘t want to bus their students even though they were already bussing white students to maintain segregation. These cities still have some of the most segregated schools.

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Nebklvr
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When you aren‘t even through the preface and already you have notes scattered everywhere....this is going to be good.

rather_be_reading love it! 2y
Nebklvr @rather_be_reading I am learning a LOT 2y
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Floresj
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This is like The People's History of the United States of the civil rights movement. It was interesting to read about segregation in the north and the south, Rosa Park's long history of activism, how the civil rights movement was started and organized, and the decades of activism to produce movement of policy. Well researched, well written but more academic than narrative nonfiction.

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TheBookStacker
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Starting off Black History month with this, along with Dear Martin (which I put off reading until now!) very excited to read this one. Can‘t wait for my #bookmail delivery next week!

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