Historian Shawn Leigh Alexander Discusses the Roots Of America’s Civil Rights Movement

For Immediate Release:
February 16, 2012
Contact: Robert Butler
Historian Shawn Leigh Alexander Discusses the Roots Of America’s Civil Rights Movement

Long before modern Civil Rights advocates like Martin Luther King and W.E.B. DuBois took up the cause, an army of largely forgotten 19th-century African American activists planted seeds that would bear fruit only long after they had passed on.

Historian Shawn Leigh Alexander discusses their fight and his book An Army of Lions: The Civil Rights Struggle Before the NAACP on strong>Tuesday, March 6, 2012at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St

Alexander traces the history of this first generation of black activists and the organizations they formed: the Afro-American League, the Afro-American Council, the Niagara Movement, the Constitution League, and the Committee of Twelve.

These early activists employed boycotts, propaganda, lobbying, moral suasion, the electoral process, and the courts to spread their call for an end to disfranchisement, segregation, and racial violence.

Alexander also honors men and women whose names are largely unknown today - among them Bishop Alexander Walters, Mary Church Terrell, Jesse Lawson, Lewis G. Jordan, Kelly Miller, George H. White, Frederick McGhee, and Archibald Grimké - but whose battles paved the way for the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909.

An Army of Lions is "a stunning and heroic work of research about one of the great 'origins' stories of American history," writes David W. Blight, author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era. "This is a scholarly achievement of the first order, with wide social and political implications today."

Alexander teaches African and African American studies at the University of Kansas,

Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.

Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

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