Sundiata Cha-Jua

Biography

Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua is Associate Professor in the departments of African American Studies and History at the University of Illinois. He is the author of America’s First Black Town, Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830-1915Sankofa: Racial Formation and Transformation, Toward a Theory of African American History; and co-editor of Race Struggles with Theodore Koditschek and Helen Neville. Dr. Cha-Jua has published scores of articles in leading journals, including “The Long Movement’ as Vampire: Temporal and Spatial Fallacies in Recent Black Freedom Studies” with Clarence Lang. Dr. Cha-Jua is a founding scholar/trainer of the Policing in a Multiracial Society Program (PSMP).  Started in 2012, PSMP provides systematic anti-racial bias education and training for police recruits attending the University of Illinois’s Police Training Institute (PTI) and researches the racial attitudes of police and the effectiveness of anti-racist training.

Clarence Lang

Biography

Clarence Lang is Professor of African American Studies and the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State University. Prof. Lang is a scholar of African American urban history and social movements in the Midwest and Border South, Dean Lang has written two books – Grassroots at the Gateway: Class Politics and Black Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, 1936-75, and Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties: Notes on the Civil Rights Movement, Neoliberalism, and Politics – and is currently working on a third, Malcolm X: A Political Biography of Black Nationalism and the African American Working Class.  He has also co-edited two books: Anticommunism and the African American Freedom Movement: “Another Side of the Story” (with Robbie Lieberman); and Reframing Randolph: Labor, Black Freedom, and the Legacies of A. Philip Randolph (with Andrew Kersten). He is co-author of “The Long Movement’ as Vampire: Temporal and Spatial Fallacies in Recent Black Freedom Studies” with Sundiata Cha-Jua.

Excerpt: “The ‘Long Movement’ as Vampire: Temporal and Spatial Fallacies in Recent Black Freedom Studies”

Over the past three decades, scholarship on postwar African American social movements became a mature, well-rounded area of study with different interpretative schools and conflicting theoretical frameworks.' However, recently, the complexity generated by clashing interpretations has eroded as a new paradigm has become hegemonic. Since the publication of Freedom North by Jeanne F. Theoharis and Komozi Woodard, the "Long Movement" has emerged as the dominant theoretical interpretation of the modem "Civil Rights" and "Black Power" movements...

We question the adequacy of the Long Movement thesis because it collapses periodization schemas, erases conceptual differences between waves of the BLM, and blurs regional distinctions in the African American experience. Indeed, we view the characteristics of the Long Movement thesis as analogous to those of the mythical vampire. This metaphor is apt because the vampire's distinguishing feature is not its predatory blood drinking. Rather, its distinctive trait is its undead status; that is, it exists outside of time and history, beyond the processes of life and death, and change and development. The vampire is thoroughly rootless and without place—it makes its home everywhere and nowhere. Recent examples of the Long Movement scholarship mirror these particular vampiric traits. First, much of the new scholarship stretches the chronologies of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements past the point of their explanatory power. By constantly relocating the BLM's origins and endpoints forward and backward, Long Movement scholars treat Civil Rights and/or Black Power as virtually etemal, like a vampire. Second, few scholars clearly define what they mean by "Civil Rights" or "Black Power," a move which facilitates erasing the differences between campaigns for black civil rights and struggles for Black Power. Third, by treating considerations of place as theoretically ephemeral, the Long Movement scholarship dispenses with the role of space and political economy in shaping specific, historically bound modes of social interaction. The cumulative result is a largely ahistorical and placeless chronicle with questionable interpretive insight.

Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past.” Journal of American History 90, no. 4 (March 2005): 1233–1263.