Black Americans and the Civil Rights Movement in the West
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
In 1927, Beatrice Cannady succeeded in removing racist language from the Oregon Constitution. During World War II, Rowena Moore fought for the right of black women to work in Omaha’s meat packinghouses. In 1942, Thelma Paige used the courts to equalize the salaries of black and white schoolteachers across Texas. In 1950 Lucinda Todd of Topeka laid the groundwork for the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. These actions—including sit-ins long before the Greensboro sit-ins of 1960—occurred well beyond the borders of the American South and East, regions most known as the home of the civil rights movement. By considering social justice efforts in western cities and states, Black Americans and the Civil Rights Movement in the West convincingly integrates the West into the historical narrative of black Americans’ struggle for civil rights.
From Iowa and Minnesota to the Pacific Northwest, and from Texas to the Dakotas, black westerners initiated a wide array of civil rights activities in the early to late twentieth century. Connected to national struggles as much as they were tailored to local situations, these efforts predated or prefigured events in the East and South. In this collection, editors Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz bring these moments into sharp focus, as the contributors note the ways in which the racial and ethnic diversity of the West shaped a specific kind of African American activism. Concentrating on the far West, the mountain states, the desert Southwest, the upper Midwest, and states both southern and western, the contributors examine black westerners’ responses to racism in its various manifestations, whether as school segregation in Dallas, job discrimination in Seattle, or housing bias in San Francisco. Together their essays establish in unprecedented detail how efforts to challenge discrimination impacted and changed the West and ultimately the United States.
“Black Americans and the Civil Rights Movement in the West is an engaging collection of essays that provides an important synthesis of civil rights efforts in the American West. This is fundamental reading for those interested in African American history and the history of the American West.”—Robert Bauman, author of Race and the War on Poverty: From Watts to East L.A.
“Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz have once again delivered a significant contribution to African American history, Western history, and the broader history of civil rights activism. In this compilation, we find new scholarship by well-seasoned historians and fresh perspectives from emergent scholars. A wide readership will benefit from—and enjoy—these rich and thoughtful essays.”—Douglas Flamming, author of African Americans in the West
“The collection is an important contribution to the historical interpretation of the civil rights movement.”—Panhandle-Plains Historical Review
“Deeply rooted in the historiographical traditions influenced by scholars such as Komozi Woodard and Jeanne Theoharis, this volume is certain to provide undergraduates and seasoned scholars alike with ample material for the classroom and a heavy trail of breadcrumbs for researchers in the archives.”—Great Plains Research