That’s Radical

The only people who can afford to work at the anarchist bookstore are trust-fund babies. Right or wrong, that illustrates a common complaint about activism: The people most likely to join political or social movements are young, idealistic, and without the burden of having to work for a living. Another assumption: such activists were the only white people who got involved in the civil rights movement, and that poor and working-class white folks were largely inert or even hostile toward changes in racial inequity. Questioning this assumption, James Tracy and Amy Sonnie interviewed activists from the civil rights movement and Vietnam War era for 10 years. They describe what they found in their book, Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times. They profile groups like the Young Patriots Organization and Rising Up Angry, which led self-proclaimed hillbillies, Vietnam veterans, so-called “greasers,” and young feminists into a coalition with black and Puerto Rican activists. A group called White Lightning, meanwhile, fought for the rights of poor people and drug addicts by occupying hospitals and working with physicians. The JOIN Community Union mixed southern migrants and people on welfare with student radicals to fight for better housing and health conditions. Tracy and Sonnie show that it’s not just the aging white guy driving the BMW with a “Question Authority” bumper sticker who played a role in social change.
Tue., Oct. 4, 7 p.m., 2011

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