Despite being characterized as a “nation of immigrants,” the United States has seen a long history of immigrant rights struggles. In her timely book Against the Deportation Terror, Rachel Ida Buff uncovers this multiracial history. She traces the story of the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born (ACPFB) from its origins in the 1930s through repression during the early Cold War, to engagement with “new” Latinx and Caribbean immigrants in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Functioning as a hub connecting diverse foreign-born communities and racial justice advocates, the ACPFB responded to various, ongoing crises of what they called “the deportation terror.” Advocates worked against repression, discrimination, detention, and expulsion in migrant communities across the nation at the same time as they supported reform of federal immigration policy. Prevailing in some cases and suffering defeats in others, the story of the ACPFB is characterized by persistence in multiracial organizing even during periods of protracted repression.
By tracing the work of the ACPFB and its allies over half a century, Against the Deportation Terror provides important historical precedent for contemporary immigrant rights organizing. Its lessons continue to resonate today.
The political and social impact that Albert A. Peña Jr. had on the lives of Mexican Americans, and later Chicanos, is by all counts immeasurable. However, in part because Chicano biography has traditionally been a neglected research area among academics generally and Chicano Studies scholars specifically, his life’s work has not featured prominently in any biographical work to date, making this volume the first of its kind. It provides a richly detailed documentation of Peña’s life and career, from blue collar worker to judge and essay writer, spanning nearly ninety years. Readers will find that at the heart of his story is a focus on grassroots organizing and politics, sharing leadership, and a commitment to social justice.
In the first book-length study of Storer College, Dawne Raines Burke tells the story of the historically black institution from its Reconstruction origins to its demise in 1955. Established by Northern Baptists in the abolitionist flashpoint of Harpers Ferry, Storer was the first college open to African Americans in West Virginia, and it played a central role in regional and national history. In addition to educating generations of students of all races, genders, and creeds, Storer served as the second meeting place (and the first on U.S. soil) for the Niagara Movement, a precursor to the NAACP.
An American Phoenix provides a comprehensive and extensively illustrated history of this historically black college, bringing to life not just the institution but many of the individuals who taught or were educated there. It fills a significant gap in our knowledge of African American history and the struggle for rights in West Virginia and the wider world.
Some of the most divisive contests shaping the quest for marriage equality occurred not on the culture-war front lines but within the ranks of LGBTQ advocates. Nathaniel Frank tells the dramatic story of how an idea that once seemed unfathomable—and for many gays and lesbians undesirable—became a legal and moral right in just half a century.
When Karl Lutze arrived in Oklahoma in 1945, he stepped into another world. A newly ordained clergyman born in Wisconsin, he was a young white man assigned to minister among Muskogee’s African American community. He soon found that in the South, crosses were as likely to be burned as revered. His recollections of postwar Oklahoma provide a compelling testament to the era’s racial conflict and some steps taken toward its resolution.
Awakening to Equality offers a unique perspective on an often-violent era that witnessed the gradual dismantling of segregation. Serving congregations in Muskogee and Tulsa, Lutze encountered a cross section of both communities—from the white and black power brokers to the most disempowered black and biracial families—and a stratified society buttressed by intimidation, cross burnings, and bombs. His activism in the Urban League and other local civil rights organizations gave him firsthand experience with forces moving toward change, as well as with the more entrenched forces resisting it.
Blending personal anecdotes and recollections of key players in this unfolding drama, Lutze puts a human face on historical and journalistic accounts of social change during the crucial early years of the civil rights movement. He takes readers back to small-town and urban Oklahoma in a time when African Americans were beginning to challenge segregation in Muskogee’s public transportation and a handful of liberal whites were trying to move their communities toward desegregation. Throughout this rich memoir, we meet actual people creating a future—one that involved the very redefinition of America.
More than a view of an earnest young clergyman trying to grow beyond the racial and social limitations of the church of his day, Awakening to Equality also depicts the struggles of Lutze’s own denomination to overcome its earlier accommodation of racism. Lutze’s success in his ministries made his achievements a model for mission work among African Americans and led to his appointment in 1959 first as field secretary and then shortly thereafter as executive director of the Lutheran Human Relations Association, a pioneering civil rights organization. Simultaneously, he taught classes as Associate Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University.
Lutze not only witnessed important events but also participated in them and found that his entire career was shaped by the experience. Awakening to Equality is a moving story that captures the real-life education of a prominent clergyman during a critical period in American life.