The urban rebellions of the mid to late 1960s have operated in complex ways in US history and memory. For the first generation of post–civil rights scholars, these uprisings served as a definitive turning point. Erupting less than a week after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the grim tally of the Watts riots—six days, thirty-four lives, over $50 million in property damage—seemed to signal a rejection of the notion of interracialism, tactical nonviolence, southern-centered movement narratives, respectability politics, beloved communities, and even hope. The more than a dozen rebellions that exploded in places like Harlem, New York; Newark, New Jersey; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois, in the 1960s both defined “the good sixties”—an imagined time when united nonviolent protesters were led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who worked closely with the White House—and signaled its demise. These declensionist...
The Language of the Unheard—Black Panthers, Black Lives, and Urban Rebellions
ROBYN C. SPENCER is associate professor of history at Lehman College, CUNY, where she teaches courses on African American history. She has written widely about the history of the Black Panther Party, gender, and Black Power. Her first book, The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, was published in 2016.
Robyn C. Spencer; The Language of the Unheard—Black Panthers, Black Lives, and Urban Rebellions. Labor 1 December 2017; 14 (4): 21–24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-4209314
Download citation file: