Race, Radicalism, and Reaction in the 1960s and 1970s

Chair: Todd Holmes, Oral History Center, University of California, Berkeley
Commentator: David Barber, University of Tennessee at Martin
This panel examines the social experiences of activists in different social movements during the post-World War II era. Each panelist explores varied responses to racial inequality on the local, state, and national levels. The papers each highlight myriad responses to the climate of Cold War repression, focusing especially on how race and ethnicity influenced political action. As the so-called “Cold War consensus” unraveled, the day-to-day resistance strategies of activists shifted to challenge the the United States’ claims as a champion of democracy and the “leader of the free world.” The connecting thread between the panelists is their focus on people who risked political imprisonment for the circulation of radical speech, ideas, and action. Domestic responses to the rise of Third World liberation movements also appear in these presentations, as they fostered inventive and distinctive collaborations across racial, national, and gendered boundaries. Another thread linking these papers is an analysis of how activists crafted strategies to defy state authority and surveillance. Subject to increased state scrutiny at the height of the Cold War, these groups still challenged the normal operation of the state.
Recorded in April 2018 at the OAH Annual Meeting held in Sacremento, California as part of the Mellon-funded Amplified Initiative.


Organizing Multiracial Workplaces: The Activism of the League of Revolutionary Struggle, 1974–1991
Eddie Bonilla, Michigan State University

“With Imagination and Enthusiasm:” The FBI, COINTELPRO, and Investigations of White Student Activists in the 1960s South
Gregg Michel, University of Texas at San Antonio

How Many Black Hippies Do You See? The Counterculture and Race Relations
Chris Rasmussen, Fairleigh Dickinson University


David Barber, University of Tennessee at Martin


OAH Members can access all of the recorded panels by logging into the member portal at the OAH website.