On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Susan D. Carle, professor at American University Washington College of Law and author of ‘Defining The Struggle: National Organizing For Racial Justice 1880 to 1915.’
‘Defining The Struggle’ uncovers the forgotten contributions of late 19th century and early 20th century national organizations - including the National Afro American League, the National Afro American Council, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, and the Niagara Movement - in developing strategies for racial justice organizing, which they then passed on to the NAACP and National Urban League.
It tells the story of these organizations’ leaders and motivations, the initiatives they undertook, and the ideas about law and racial justice activism they developed and passed on to future generations. In so doing it sheds new light on how these early origins helped set the path for 20th century legal civil rights activism in the United States.
Also, Carle shows that at an early foundational stage of national racial justice organizing, activists thought about civil and political rights and the social welfare and economic aspects of achieving racial justice as interrelated aspects of a comprehensive agenda. As the enormity and difficulty of the task became clearer with experience over time, organizations developed specializations in both issue areas and strategies. But this tendency was unstable and reflected pragmatic concerns rather than any deep ideological commitment to pursue some aspects of the racial justice agenda over others.