"There are some bad brothers and sisters in New Orleans" : the Black Power movement in the Crescent City from 1964-1977

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2011-12

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This is a study of the manifestations and permutations of the Black Power era principles and ideologies in New Orleans from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s. By highlighting little-known and often neglected groups along with popular organizations, this work illuminates how these groups shaped and rethought the their objectives and tactics in the contested terrain of post-Civil Rights New Orleans. Making extensive use of archival resources, newspaper articles, memoirs, interviews, and secondary literature, “There are Some Bad Brothers and Sisters in New Orleans” focuses on the ways in which disparate organizations, groups, and individuals, wrestling with the highly fluid idea of Black Power, attempted to refashion the political and cultural landscape of the Crescent City. This dissertation contributes a more nuanced analysis of this famous city and continues the recent surge in Black Power Studies that emphasizes local examples of Black Power. This work tells the story of New Orleans; of shootouts and showdowns; liberation theater and war helicopters; schools and southern political rules. The central objective of this study is to provide a more complete and in-depth look at the major themes (Cultural Nationalism, Revolutionary Nationalism, Black Arts, student movements, political power, and independent education) of the Black Power era by calling attention to its distinctive but informative examples nurtured in the incomparable city of New Orleans. This dissertation argues that the roots of Black Power in New Orleans were shattered, disparate, and ad-hoc in nature. As such, its thrust failed to bear the social, cultural, economic, and political fruit hoped for by its advocates.

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