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Battling the Plantation MentalityMemphis and the Black Freedom Struggle$
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Laurie B. Green

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831069

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807888872_green

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Battling the Plantation Mentality: From the Civil Rights Act to the Sanitation Strike

Battling the Plantation Mentality: From the Civil Rights Act to the Sanitation Strike

(p.251) 8 Battling the Plantation Mentality: From the Civil Rights Act to the Sanitation Strike
Battling the Plantation Mentality

Laurie B. Green

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the mass movement launched by African Americans in Memphis as part of their struggle for economic justice, racial equality, and respect following the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It discusses the coalescence of labor, politics, and the black freedom movement during this period, highlighted by Martin Luther King Jr.'s appearance at Mason Temple in 1968 to support the sanitation workers' strike. The chapter considers the intensification of black activism in the years after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 as working-class African Americans issued a vigorous attempt to end “plantation mentality.” It also explores the “I AM a Man!” slogan used by striking sanitation workers in Memphis in the context of Black Power's rhetoric of masculinity and freedom. Finally, the chapter looks at the campaigns of black women in Memphis for welfare rights.

Keywords:   economic justice, racial equality, Civil Rights Act, freedom movement, sanitation workers, strike, black activism, African Americans, plantation mentality, welfare rights

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