After a year of excellent reviews, the book has become available in paperback — amid the larger conversation the nation is having about race, poverty, and the role of state violence in that equation. Opposition to police brutality and harassment in the 1960s often bound activists together that otherwise disagreed about policies and tactics. Check out the reviews in an array of academic journals, including the Journal of American History, American Historical Review, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, and Labor. And the Left Eye on Books blog even includes Power to the Poor in its top 10 list for 2013.
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The Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 has long been overshadowed by the assassination of its architect, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the political turmoil of that year. In a major reinterpretation of civil rights and Chicano movement history, Gordon K. Mantler demonstrates how King’s unfinished crusade became the era’s most high-profile attempt at multiracial collaboration and sheds light on the interdependent relationship between racial identity and political coalition among African Americans and Mexican Americans. Mantler argues that while the fight against poverty held great potential for black-brown cooperation, such efforts also exposed the complex dynamics between the nation’s two largest minority groups.
Drawing on oral histories, archives, periodicals, and FBI surveillance files, Mantler paints a rich portrait of the campaign and the larger anti-poverty work from which it emerged, including the labor activism of Cesar Chavez, opposition of Black and Chicano Power to state violence in Chicago and Denver, and advocacy for Mexican American land-grant rights in New Mexico. Ultimately, Mantler challenges readers to rethink the multiracial history of the long civil rights movement and the difficulty of sustaining political coalitions.
Latest book events and interviews
Mantler has discussed the book and current events in a variety of forums, including public radio, CSPAN, the Chicago Tribune’s Vivelo Hoy, the (Raleigh) News & Observer, and El Beisman and “Live from the Heartland,” both in Chicago. Last fall, he participated in a symposium on multiracial coalition-building at the Library of Congress. Check out this site’s calendar for upcoming events.