Radio and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the South (Paperback)
This compelling book offers important new insights into the connections among radio, race relations, and the civil rights and black power movements in the South from the 1920s to the mid-1970s. For the mass of African Americans--and many whites--living in the region during this period, radio was the foremost source of news and information. Consequently, it is impossible to fully understand the origins and development of the African American freedom struggle, changes in racial consciousness, and the transformation of southern racial practices without recognizing how radio simultaneously entertained, informed, educated, and mobilized black and white southerners. While focusing on civil rights activities in Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Washington, D.C., and the state of Mississippi, the book draws attention to less well-known sites of struggle such as Columbus, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina, where radio also played a vital role. It explains why key civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and organizations such as the NAACP, SCLC, and SNCC put a premium on access to the radio, often finding it far more effective than the print media or television in advancing their cause. The book also documents how civil rights advocates used radio to try to influence white opinions on racial matters in the South and beyond, and how the broadcasting industry itself became the site of a protracted battle for black economic opportunity and access to a lucrative black consumer market. In addition, Ward rescues from historical obscurity a roster of colorful deejays, announcers, station managers, executives, and even the odd federal bureaucrat, who made significant contributions to the freedom struggle through radio. Winner of the AEJMC award for the best journalism and mass communication history book of 2004 and a 2004 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award, this book restores radio to its rightful place in the history of black protest, race relations, and southern culture during the middle fifty years of the 20th century.
Brian Ward, associate professor of history at the University of Florida, is the editor of Media, Culture, and the Modern African American Freedom Struggle (UPF, 2001) and the author of Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations, which won the 1999 James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians.