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Lifting the Chains: The Black Freedom Struggle Since Reconstruction

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All-Black institutions and local community groups have been at the forefront of the freedom struggle since the beginning.

Lifting the Chains is a history of the Black experience in America since the Civil War, told by one of our most
distinguished historians of modern America, William H. Chafe. He argues that, despite the wishes and arguments of many whites to the contrary, the struggle for freedom has been carried out primarily by Black Americans, with only occasional assistance from whites. Chafe highlights the role of all-black institutions--especially the churches, lodges, local gangs, neighborhood women's groups, and the Black college clubs that gathered at local pool halls--that talked up the issues, examined different courses of action, and then put their lives on the line to make change happen.

The book draws heavily on the tremendous oral history archives at Duke that Chafe founded and nurtured, much of which is previously unpublished. The archives are now a collection of more than 3,600 oral histories tracing the evolution of Black activism, managed under the auspices of the Duke Center for Documentary History. The project uncovered the degree to which Blacks never gave up the struggle against racism, even during the height of Jim Crow segregation from 1900 to 1950. Chafe draws on these valuable resources to build this definitive history of African American activism, a history that can and should inform Black Lives Matter and other contemporary social justice movements.

ISBN-13: 9780197616451

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Publication Date: 08-29-2023

Pages: 360

William H. Chafe graduated from Harvard College in 1962, received his Ph.D from Columbia University in 1971, and has taught at Duke University for the past fifty years. Former Chair of the History Department and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, he has published 13 books, been selected as president of the Organization of American Historians, is a Phi Beta Kappa Fellow, and has been awarded two Fulbright Awards. He is married to Lorna Chafe, and they have two children, Christopher and Jennifer.