Concrete Demands: The Search for Black Power in the 20th Century, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Concrete Demands

The Search for Black Power in the 20th Century, 1st Edition

By Rhonda Y. Williams


305 pages

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pub: 2014-12-11
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Between the 1950s and 1970s, Black Power coalesced as activists advocated a more oppositional approach to fighting racial oppression, emphasizing racial pride, asserting black political, cultural, and economic autonomy, and challenging white power. In Concrete Demands, Rhonda Y. Williams provides a rich, deeply researched history that sheds new light on this important social and political movement, and shows that the era of expansive Black Power politics that emerged in the 1960s had long roots and diverse trajectories within the 20th century.

Looking at the struggle from the grassroots level, Williams highlights the role of ordinary people as well as more famous historical actors, and demonstrates that women activists were central to Black Power. Vivid and highly readable, Concrete Demands is a perfect introduction to Black Power in the twentieth century for anyone interested in the history of black liberation movements.


"Concrete Demands is a tour de force. Rhonda Y. Williams's panoramic study of Black Power in the 20th century offers a comprehensive and insightful history of the way in which one of the most controversial social movements of the 1960s transformed American democracy and race relations. In doing so it stands out as one of the most important books ever written on the era."

—Peniel E. Joseph, author of Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama

"Rhonda Williams is a brilliant historian whose work wrestles with and illuminates the ongoing struggle for Black liberation and the practice of grassroots organizing. With great skill and unrelenting passion, Concrete Demands offers new and important insights into our understanding of the Black Power movement of the late twentieth century and its implications for the intellectual and political challenges of the 21st century."

—Barbara Ransby, author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision

"Williams traces the origins and diverse manifestations of black power thought and activism from the early to the late 20th century, demonstrating that core tenets such as black self-determination, economic justice, and armed self-defense had precedents in the Jim Crow era that influenced a younger generation of activists who popularized these ideas in the 1960s…An intriguing and valuable synthesis that will interest both academic and general audiences. Summing Up: Highly recommended."

—G. E. de Jong, University of Nevada, Reno, CHOICE Review

Table of Contents


Part One

Chapter 1: A Mad Society: Crucibles and Portents of Black Power

Chapter 2: From “Negro Power” Toward Black Revolt

Chapter 3: The Time Is Arriving Now

Part Two

Chapter 4: Into the Public’s Eye

Chapter 5: Girding Up Urban Power Struggles

Chapter 6: The World Cries FREEDOM

Chapter 7: Revolution for Whom?: Unraveling Romantic Black Unity

Epilogue: Echoes


About the Author

Rhonda Y. Williams is Associate Professor of History at Case Western Reserve University. She is the author of The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women's Struggles Against Urban Inequality, and co-editor of Teaching the American Civil Rights Movement: Freedom's Bittersweet Song (Routledge).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
HISTORY / Social History