The middle class black women who people Judith Weisenfeld’s history were committed both to social action and to institutional expression of their religious convictions. Their story provides an illuminating perspective on the varied forces working to improve quality of life for African Americans in crucial times.When undertaking to help young women migrating to and living alone in New York, Weisenfeld’s protagonists chose to work within a national evangelical institution. Their organization of a black chapter of the Young Women’s Christian Association in 1905 was a clear step toward establishing a suitable environment for young working women; it was also an expression of their philosophy of social uplift. And predictably it was the beginning of an equal rights struggle—to work as equals with white women activists. Growing and adapting as New York’s black community evolved over the decades, the black YWCA assumed a central role both in the community’s religious life and as a training ground for social action. Weisenfeld’s analysis of the setbacks and successes closes with the National YWCA’s vote in 1946 to adopt an interracial charter and move toward integration of local chapters, thus opening the door to a different set of challenges for a new generation of black activists.Weisenfeld’s account gives a vibrant picture of African American women as significant actors in the life of the city. And it bears telling witness to the religious, class, gender, and racial negotiations so often involved in American social reform movements.
During the early national and antebellum eras, black leaders in New York City confronted the tenuous nature of Northern emancipation. Despite the hope of freedom, black New Yorkers faced a series of sociopolitical issues including the persistence of Southern slavery, the threat of forced removal, racial violence, and the denial of American citizenship. Even efforts to create community space within the urban landscape, such as the African Burial Ground and Seneca Village, were eventually demolished to make way for the city's rapid development. In this illuminating history, Leslie M. Alexander chronicles the growth and development of black activism in New York from the formation of the first black organization, the African Society, in 1784 to the eve of the Civil War in 1861. In this critical period, black activists sought to formulate an effective response to their unequal freedom. Examining black newspapers, speeches, and organizational records, this study documents the creation of mutual relief, religious, and political associations, which black men and women infused with African cultural traditions and values.
As Alexander reveals, conflicts over early black political strategy foreshadowed critical ideological struggles that would bedevil the black leadership for generations to come. Initially, black leaders advocated racial uplift through a sense of communalism and connection to their African heritage. Yet by the antebellum era, black activists struggled to reconcile their African identity with a growing desire to gain American citizenship. Ultimately, this battle resulted in competing agendas; while some leaders argued that the black community should dedicate themselves to moral improvement and American citizenship, others began to consider emigrating to Africa or Haiti. In the end, the black leadership resolved to assert an American identity and to expand their mission for full equality and citizenship in the United States. This decision marked a crucial turning point in black political strategy, for it signaled a new phase in the quest for racial advancement and fostered the creation of a nascent Black Nationalism.
When the terrorist attacks struck New York City on September 11, 2001, boat operators and waterfront workers quickly realized that they had the skills, the equipment, and the opportunity to take definite, immediate action in responding to the most significant destructive event in the United States in decades. For many of them, they were “doing what needed to be done.”
American Dunkirk shows how people, many of whom were volunteers, mobilized rescue efforts in various improvised and spontaneous ways on that fateful date. Disaster experts James Kendra and Tricia Wachtendorf examine the efforts through fieldwork and interviews with many of the participants to understand the evacuation and its larger implications for the entire practice of disaster management.
The authors ultimately explore how people—as individuals, groups, and formal organizations—pull together to respond to and recover from startling, destructive events. American Dunkirk asks, What can these people and lessons teach us about not only surviving but thriving in the face of calamity?
Fitzpatrick captures the emotions of artists and riders alike, as she explores paintings, photographs, performance art, graffiti, and public art by artists such as Walker Evans, Bruce Davidson, DONDI, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, Jacob Lawrence, Reginald Marsh, Elizabeth Murray, and many others. She also considers representations of the subway in film, on song sheet covers, and in illustration. By examining the cultural, technological, and social contexts for these creative interpretations, Fitzpatrick illuminates in fresh ways the contradictions and harmonies between public and private space.
Featuring 17 color plates and 80 black-and-white images, Art and the Subway takes readers on a fascinating ride through the visual history of one of the twentieth century's greatest urban planning endeavors as it grew, changed form, and reinvented itself with passion and vitality.
Maria Cristina Fava explores the rich creative milieu shaped by artists dedicated to using music and theater to advance the promotion, circulation, and acceptance of leftist ideas in 1930s New York City. Despite tensions between aesthetic and pragmatic goals, the people and groups produced works at the center of the decade’s sociopolitical and cultural life. Fava looks at the Composers’ Collective of New York and its work on proletarian music and workers’ songs before turning to the blend of experimentation and vernacular idioms that shaped the political use of music within the American Worker’s Theater Movement. Fava then reveals how composers and theater practitioners from these two groups achieved prominence within endeavors promoted by the Works Project Administration.
Fava’s history teases out fascinating details from performances and offstage activity attached to works by composers such as Marc Blitzstein, Charles Seeger, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Elie Siegmeister, and Harold Rome. Endeavors encouraged avant-garde experimentation while nurturing innovations friendly to modernist approaches and an interest in non-western music. Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock offered a memorable example that found popular success, but while the piece achieved its goals, it became so wrapped up in myths surrounding workers’ theater that critics overlooked Blitzstein’s musical ingenuity.
Provocative and original, Art Music Activism considers how innovative classical composers of the 1930s balanced creative aims with experimentation, accessible content, and a sociopolitical message to create socially meaningful works.
In his Foreword to this edition, Jean Charlot says: "An unusual feature of Orozco's letters is the great deal that he has to say about art. That one artist writing to another would emphasize art as his subject seems normal enough to the American reader. Yet, within the context of the Mexico of those days, the fact remains exceptional. The patria Orozco was leaving behind had, even from the point of view of its artists, many cares more pressing than art."
The letters and unpublished writings of Orozco from this period (1925-1929) describe an important period of transition in the artist's life, from his departure from Mexico, almost as a defeated man, to the period just before he received the great mural commissions—Pomona, The New School for Social Research in New York, Dartmouth—that were to bring him lasting international fame.
The term Neo-Dada surfaced in New York in the late 1950s and was used to characterize young artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns whose art appeared at odds with the serious emotional and painterly interests of the then-dominant movement, Abstract Expressionism. Neo-Dada quickly became the word of choice in the early 1960s to designate experimental art, including assemblage, performance, Pop art, and nascent forms of minimal and conceptual art.
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