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What a Mighty Power We Can Be:
African American Fraternal Groups and the Struggle for Racial Equality
Theda Skocpol, Ariane Liazos, & Marshall Ganz

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Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]


"I count myself as reasonably knowledgeable of black history, but I was almost entirely ignorant of the African American fraternal tradition and its surprising links to the broader freedom struggle. So what a joy it was to read this book. In resurrecting the history of this submerged tradition, the authors have performed a valuable service for all of us interested in the organizational experience of African Americans."--Douglas McAdam, Stanford University

"Long before the twentieth-century Civil Rights movement, the fraternal and sororal organizations of the black community created and recreated sacred spaces of community solidarity and civic courage in the best spirit of American democracy. The authors convert this little-known story into an important chapter of the history of the United States."--Lani Guinier, Harvard Law School

"This valuable study enriches our understanding of the rich fraternal tradition among blacks--alongside those of other Americans--and helps us envision the civic foundations for new efforts to deepen American democracy."--Cornel West, Princeton University, author of Democracy Matters and coauthor of The African-American Century

"This book will instantly become a standard work and the basis for new research by other scholars in a variety of disciplines."--David Fahey, Miami University of Ohio

"An extraordinary work of historical reconstruction. Skocpol, Liazos, and Ganz have mounted a powerful argument, based on a remarkable collection of data, about the importance for American democracy of the rise, decline, and structure of African American civic membership associations."--Robert C. Lieberman, Columbia University, author of Shaping Race Policy

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File created: 4/17/2014

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