Rights and Lives: Continuities in Black Freedom Struggles

Francoise N. Hamlin's picture
Call for Papers
December 15, 2019
United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Race Studies, Sexuality Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for Chapters for Edited Volume

Editors: Françoise Hamlin, Shirletta Kinchen, and Charles McKinney


 Tentative Title: Rights and Lives: Continuities in Black Freedom Struggles


Under contract with Vanderbilt University Press



The Black Freedom Struggle that occurred in the middle of the last century was a local, national and international movement that profoundly shaped a wide array of institutions as well as the cultural, political, and legal terrain of the nation. As with most movements, this one was also a moment of culmination – with local efforts to gain greater freedom connecting with national (and international) strategies to advance the work of justice. However, while the movement fundamentally altered many aspects of Black/American life, the enduring nature of racial inequality continues to delimit the possibilities and potentials surrounding the full expression of Black Humanity in the United States.


In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012, activists created a hashtag - #BlackLivesMatter – that powerfully encapsulated the spirit of the moment by declaring simply and loudly stop killing us. Initially crafted by three queer black feminists, the hashtag evolved into a critical tool to mobilize black folks (and their allies) across the country in an effort to confront police brutality and murder. Almost immediately, the aims and goals of #BLM expanded, in recognition of the deeply interconnected nature of racial oppression in American society. #BLM highlighted the growth and development of a new era of movement building and struggle, one that continues to grow, evolve and contend with the protean nature of white supremacy.  


Broadly speaking, the traditionally conceptualized mid-twentieth century Civil Rights Movement and the newer #BlackLivesMatter Movement possess some similar qualities. They both represent dynamic, complex moments of possibility and progress. They also share mass-based movement activities, policy/legislative advocacy, grassroots organizing, and targeted media campaigns. Innovation, growth, and dissension – core aspects of movement work - mark them both. Crucially, these moments also engender aggressive, repressive, multi-level responses to these assertions of Black Humanity.



We invite chapter proposals for the volume that critically engage the dynamic relationship between these two moments of liberatory possibility on the Black Freedom Struggle timeline. While the focus leans toward historical lessons, African American Studies functions at its fullest with multiple methods and disciplines employed in the field. Interested contributors should provide a 500 word abstract of a chapter and short bio by December 15, 2019 to rightsandlives@gmail.com


Leading/core questions might include:

-What can we learn when we place these moments of struggle in dialogue with each other?

-How can/should our understanding of the mass movements during the postwar moment shape our analysis of #BLM? What are the (dis)continuities we should be mindful of?

-Conversely, how can our understanding of #BLM shape/reshape our analysis of the black freedom struggle as a whole?

-What analytical tools have we developed in the effort to understand #BLM that can be applied to better explicate the black freedom struggle? In what ways do #BLM challenge our understanding of the BFS?

-What are the lessons to be gleaned for future moments of insurgency?


We invite the exploration of a diversity of themes, such as:

  • Visual Culture
  • Media and Movement
  • Centering Black Women in the CRM/BLM moments
  • The Sonic Landscape
  • The Politics/mechanics of Protest
  • Trajectories of Struggle
  • Radical Possibilities
  • Defining success and failure
  • Social/Philosophical underpinnings of CRM/BLM
  • Global Impact/implications
  • CRM/BLM and the global anti-blackness struggle
  • Generational shifts
  • Repression/Backlash
  • Movement building and Political/Intellectual diversity
  • Leadership
  • The Surveillance/Police State
  • Queering Freedom
  • Periodization

Submission Timeline:

500-word proposal and short bio: December 15, 2019

Notification of Acceptance: January 15, 2020

Full chapter submission (approx. 7500 words): April 19, 2020

Editorial review of the chapters will be completed: June 1, 2020

Full manuscript submitted to Vanderbilt University Press: August 14, 2020


For further questions, contact:

Dr. Françoise Hamlin francoise_hamlin@brown.edu

Dr. Shirletta Kinchen: Shirletta.Kinchen@louisville.edu

Dr. Charles McKinney: mckinneyc@rhodes.edu




Contact Info: 

Dr. Françoise Hamlin francoise_hamlin@brown.edu

Dr. Shirletta Kinchen: Shirletta.Kinchen@louisville.edu

Dr. Charles McKinney: mckinneyc@rhodes.edu