Synopses & Reviews
IN THIS SOPHISTICATED study of the struggle for African-Americanhuman rights in America, Alessandra Lorini examines public events in New York Cityfrom the end of the Civil War through World War I, demonstrating how ritualizedelements of black processions, parades, riots, and festivals made visible theinherent paradox of the separate but equal doctrine of the time. By examiningthese public events, Lorini dramatizes the quest for liberty and equality as a storyof living forces, not abstract principles and legal maneuvers. Lorini defines publicculture as a conflictual space in which gender, race, and class alliances are madeand remade in the ongoing battle for expanded democracy. She then explores howpublic rituals directly confronted the demeaning representations of blacks prevalentin America's civic and national culture--particularly the idea of black racialinferiority outlined in theories of racial science. Through rituals, blacksconstructed collective memories and identities, which ultimately served as the basisfor their assertion of what Lorini calls participatory democracy, a movementcreated by ordinary citizens in which activists such as W. E. B. DuBois, IdaWells-Barnett, Mary White Ovington, and Booker T. Washington could attempt to effectsocial change.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -287) and index.