Struggle on Their Minds

The Political Thought of African American Resistance

Alex Zamalin

Columbia University Press

Struggle on Their Minds

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Pub Date: May 2017

ISBN: 9780231181105

240 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.95

Pub Date: May 2017

ISBN: 9780231543477

240 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.95

Struggle on Their Minds

The Political Thought of African American Resistance

Alex Zamalin

Columbia University Press

American political thought has been shaped by those who fought back against social inequality, economic exclusion, the denial of political representation, and slavery, the country's original sin. Yet too often the voices of African American resistance have been neglected, silenced, or forgotten. In this timely book, Alex Zamalin considers key moments of resistance to demonstrate its current and future necessity, focusing on five activists across two centuries who fought to foreground slavery and racial injustice in American political discourse. Struggle on Their Minds shows how the core values of the American political tradition have been continually challenged—and strengthened—by antiracist resistance, creating a rich legacy of African American political thought that is an invaluable component of contemporary struggles for racial justice.

Zamalin looks at the language and concepts put forward by the abolitionists David Walker and Frederick Douglass, the antilynching activist Ida B. Wells, the Black Panther Party organizer Huey Newton, and the prison abolitionist Angela Davis. Each helped revise and transform ideas about power, justice, community, action, and the role of emotion in political action. Their thought encouraged abolitionists to call for the eradication of slavery, black journalists to chastise American institutions for their indifference to lynching, and black radicals to police the police and to condemn racial injustice in the American prison system. Taken together, these movements pushed political theory forward, offering new language and concepts to sustain democracy in tense times. Struggle on Their Minds is a critical text for our contemporary moment, showing how the political thought that comes out of resistance can energize the practice of democratic citizenship and ultimately help address the prevailing problem of racial injustice.
Fred Moten memorably wrote that the "history of blackness is testament to the fact that objects can and do resist." Alex Zamalin reaffirms this assertion through exquisite examination of narratives of resistance—not merely protest—by David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Huey Newton, and Angela Davis. Zamalin's deft treatise demonstrates how Afro-modern political thought refashions our fundamental understandings of resistance and the attendant ideals of democracy and freedom. Neil Roberts, author of Freedom as Marronage, Williams College
Struggle on Their Minds places Alex Zamalin at the forefront of scholars concerned with the political thought of African American activists. I can think of no reading more timely than this rich account of the centrality of black resistance to U.S. democracy and democratic citizenship. Nick Bromell, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
In intellectually compelling and valuable ways, this book presents significant (but relatively neglected) figures in the canon of African American political theorizing and relates them both to broad idioms of American political thought and to our contemporary political conjuncture. George Shulman, Professor of Political Science at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University
Overall, the book offers an alternative view to American consensus theories on history, politics, and race. Excellent for American history, race, and political thought collections. Choice
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Political Thought of African American Resistance
1. David Walker, Frederick Douglass, and the Abolitionist Democratic Vision
2. Ida B. Wells, the Antilynching Movement, and the Politics of Seeing
3. Huey Newton, the Black Panthers, and the Decolonization of America
4. Angela Davis, Prison Abolition, and the End of the American Carceral State
Conclusion: The Future of Resistance
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Alex Zamalin (PhD, Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center) is Director of African American Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Detroit. He is the author of African American Political Thought and American Culture: The Nation’s Struggle for Racial Justice (Palgrave, 2015) and Struggle on Their Minds: The Political Thought of African American Resistance (Columbia, 2017) and the coeditor (with Jonathan Keller) of American Political Thought: An Alternative Reader (Routledge, 2017).