Monday, October 16, 2017, 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Robinson Hall, Basement Conference Room
Title: Fire in the Streets: The Rebellions of '67 Revisited
Fifty years ago, between April and September 1967, an astounding 164 African American-led rebellions shook US cities large and small. The long hot summer of ’67 constitutes one of the most significant insurrections in twentieth-century America, a moment in which the struggle for Black liberation reached an apogee, articulating itself with such force and clarity that it would forever change the fate of US cities, as well as the national discourse on race. This lecture focuses on the first major disorder of the season, which took place in Tampa, Florida, to argue that the most impactful protests occurred in places that were not obvious candidates for unrest—cities that were not beacons of organized Black militancy. It suggests that rebellions best took root in communities that were defiant yet organizationally unformed—where residents were not consolidated into organizations with centralized leadership. Drawing on police records and overlooked oral histories, this lecture reveals how the rebellions emerged out of institutions that structured daily life: housing projects, anti-poverty programs and street organizations. Such sites channeled grassroots political ideology and served as reference points for tactical decisions. They made legible the political confidence of the masses—their political “movements” and orientations which eventually gave rise to large scale unrest.
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