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E185.61 .L675 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

In this sophisticated study of the struggle for African American human rights in America, Alessandra Lorini examines public events in New York City from the end of the Civil War through World War I, demonstrating how ritualized elements of black processions, parades, riots, and festivals made visible the inherent paradox of the "separate but equal" doctrine of the time. By examining these public events, Lorini dramatizes the quest for liberty and equality as a story of living forces, not abstract principles and legal maneuvers. Lorini defines public culture as a conflictual space in which gender, race, and class alliances are made and remade in the ongoing battle for expanded democracy. She then explores how public rituals directly confronted the demeaning representations of blacks prevalent in America's civic and national culture--particularly the idea of black racial inferiority outlined in theories of "racial science." Through rituals, blacks constructed collective memories and identities, which ultimately served as the basis for their assertion of what Lorini calls "participatory democracy," a movement created by ordinary citizens in which activists such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida Wells-Barnett, Mary White Ovington, and Booker T. Washington could attempt to effect social change.


Summary

In this sophisticated study of the struggle for African American human rights in America, Alessandra Lorini examines public events in New York City from the end of the Civil War through World War I, demonstrating how ritualized elements of black processions, parades, riots, and festivals made visible the inherent paradox of the "separate but equal" doctrine of the time. By examining these public events, Lorini dramatizes the quest for liberty and equality as a story of living forces, not abstract principles and legal maneuvers. Lorini defines public culture as a conflictual space in which gender, race, and class alliances are made and remade in the ongoing battle for expanded democracy. She then explores how public rituals directly confronted the demeaning representations of blacks prevalent in America's civic and national culture--particularly the idea of black racial inferiority outlined in theories of "racial science." Through rituals, blacks constructed collective memories and identities, which ultimately served as the basis for their assertion of what Lorini calls "participatory democracy," a movement created by ordinary citizens in which activists such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida Wells-Barnett, Mary White Ovington, and Booker T. Washington could attempt to effect social change.


Author Notes

Alessandra Lorini teaches American history at the universities of Florence and Pisa.


Alessandra Lorini teaches American history at the universities of Florence and Pisa.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Written by an Italian scholar, this book is a discussion of political interracial alliance in public events from Reconstruction to WW I. Lorini focuses on New York City parades, international expositions in Chicago and Atlanta, academic meetings, organizations such as the NAACP and the National Negro Business League, popular music and theater, and pageants. Public figures like Frederick Douglass, Ida Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. DuBois, Jane Addams, Franz Boas, and Mary Ovington loom large in these pages: Lorini shows that they made battles for great causes part of public culture, and in so doing, helped shape public attitudes regarding participatory democracy. Lorini writes in an academic, generally carefully documented style, but there are a few matters on which she deserves criticism. Her bibliography on the Columbian Exposition is highly selective. More important, her discussion of popular music sometimes leaves something to be desired. Her comments on ragtime music, as for example when she says that it accompanied the Charleston, are not entirely accurate. The only publication she specifically cites is E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime (1974), which is about the ragtime era (1897-1917), not the music. In nonmusical matters, however, Lorini's knowledge seems to be all-encompassing. Upper-division undergraduates and above. W. K. McNeil; Ozark Folk Center


Choice Review

Written by an Italian scholar, this book is a discussion of political interracial alliance in public events from Reconstruction to WW I. Lorini focuses on New York City parades, international expositions in Chicago and Atlanta, academic meetings, organizations such as the NAACP and the National Negro Business League, popular music and theater, and pageants. Public figures like Frederick Douglass, Ida Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. DuBois, Jane Addams, Franz Boas, and Mary Ovington loom large in these pages: Lorini shows that they made battles for great causes part of public culture, and in so doing, helped shape public attitudes regarding participatory democracy. Lorini writes in an academic, generally carefully documented style, but there are a few matters on which she deserves criticism. Her bibliography on the Columbian Exposition is highly selective. More important, her discussion of popular music sometimes leaves something to be desired. Her comments on ragtime music, as for example when she says that it accompanied the Charleston, are not entirely accurate. The only publication she specifically cites is E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime (1974), which is about the ragtime era (1897-1917), not the music. In nonmusical matters, however, Lorini's knowledge seems to be all-encompassing. Upper-division undergraduates and above. W. K. McNeil; Ozark Folk Center