The exodus of approximately six million black people from the American South between 1915 and 1970 had a significant role in setting the stage of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s. Many of the children of those who left the south participated in desegregation efforts which included the Freedom Rides and lunch counter sit-ins. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 which attempted to resolve employment discrimination and define voting rights, only changed the law. Many young blacks however did not see changes in their everyday life.
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was born out of this disillusionment. Although infiltrated and feared by the F.B.I., the Black Panther Party pioneered social and community programs, including free medical clinics, free meals, and educational programs.
Our guest in this edition of Radio Curious is Alondra Nelson, Columbia University, Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology. She’s also the author of “Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination.”
We visited by phone from her Office in New York City, on February 13, 2012 and began our conversation when I asked her to describe the Black Panther Party.
The book she recommends is “Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems,” by Elizabeth Alexander.
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