Struggles before Brown: Early Civil Rights Protests and Their Significance Today

Book Info

  • Length: 208 pages
  • Trim size: 6" x 9"

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  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-459-3
  • Publish date: March 2011
  • List Price: $44.95
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  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-458-6
  • Publish date: November 2007
  • List Price: $163.00
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There were many little-known challenges to racial segregation before the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The author’s oral history interviews highlight civil rights protests seldom considered significant, but that help us understand the beginnings of the civil rights struggle before it became a mass movement. She brings to light many important but largely forgotten events, such as the often overlooked 1950s Oklahoma sit-in protests that provided a model for the better-known Greensboro, North Carolina, sit-ins.

This book’s significance lies in its challenge to perspectives that dominate scholarship on the civil rights movement. The broader concepts illustrated—including agency, culture, social structure, and situations—throughout this book open up substantially more of the complexity of the civil rights struggle. This book employs a methodology for analyzing not just the civil rights movement but other social movements and, indeed, social change in general.

Author Info

Jean Van Delinder is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Women’s Studies at Oklahoma State University.


“The civil rights movement represented one of the most consequential projects of civil repair in American history. Van Delinder’s contribution is to retrieve and to help us to appreciate the significance of the ‘forgotten’ civil rights protests—which she calls the ‘border campaigns.’ Focusing on events prior to Brown that occurred in Kansas and Oklahoma, she has enriched the literature on this monumental effort to make the American civil sphere more inclusive.”
Peter Kivisto, Augustana College

“Impressively combining multidimensional theory and thoroughly documented case studies, Jean Van Delinder looks behind Brown v. Board of Education and away from the orthodox focus upon Montgomery and Birmingham to earlier civil rights campaigns in Kansas and Oklahoma. Rejecting mainstream institutional, organizational, network, and political process theories, Van Delinder proposes a unique methodology that powerfully utilizes Weber’s ideal-typical approach and orientation to value-rational action. New and synthesizing pathways are blazed as agency, culture, history, and a nonlinear causality move prominently to the forefront. This sophisticated and ambitious study will set the standard for future scholarship on the civil rights movement and, quite possibly, on social movements generally.”
Stephen Kalberg, Boston University

“Jean Van Delinder illuminates a number of important and often overlooked aspects of the civil rights movements. Through interviews, archival research, and secondary sources, she developed a conceptual framework to analyze civil rights struggles that occurred in Kansas and Oklahoma before the 1954 Supreme Court Ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.”
Aldon Morris, in Contemporary Sociology



PART I: Overview
Chapter 1
: Introduction

PART II: Forgotten Civil Rights Activism
Chapter 2
: Before Brown: Protest and School Segregation in Kansas, 1880-1941
Chapter 3: "Invisibility Blues": Black Women and the Public Sphere in Guthrie, Oklahoma, 1890-1910
Chapter 4: "Going Where We Could Not": Race, Gender, Class, and Religion in Merriam, Kansas, 1948-1949
Chapter 5: Behind the Brown Case, 1944-1954
Chapter 6: "Standing Up in the Heartland": The Oklahoma City Lunch Counter Sit-Ins, 1957-1964

PART III: Implications for the Analysis of Social Movements
Chapter 7
: Current Debates in Theories of Social Movements
Chapter 8: Conclusion

About the Author

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