Dr. Lisa Corrigan gave her online lecture on Anti-Blackness, Social Feelings and Public Policy: 1954-2020 this month. Sponsored by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Coopers Honors Program in the English Department, in her introduction, Dr. Corrigan gives insight into how the book was written as a response to white critics who rejected her initial idea of a book written over black activists.
She gave an overview of her thesis during the lecture.
“Black feelings traces the surging optimism of the Kennedy administration through the black power era’s powerful circulation of black pessimism,” Corrigan said. “To understand how black feelings were a terrain of political struggle for lack meaning, representation, and political agency.”
Essentially, it describes the disappointment Black communities felt about not truly being equal and how the response was Black power.
Chapter one, “Postwar Feelings” looks at John F. Kennedy and his lack of hope for the black community but immense optimism for the white communities.
Chapter two, “Contouring Black Hope and Despair” covers Martin Luther King Jr’s critique of the Kennedy administration in the Birmingham campaign. The white hope promised and waiting for progress is what was stalling real social progress.
Chapter three, “American Negritude” is about Malcolm X and his importance to Black power as he used his rage (not aggression) to argue against racism.
Chapter four, “Feeling Riots” as infers is about the riots in the late 1960s. In response to a question about how similar the 1960’s riots are to the recent Black Lives Matter protests, Dr. Corrigan describes them as the same. There remains a misreading of rebellion as the destruction of property instead of outrage over social issues and injustice.
Chapter five, “Mourning King” covers the assassination of MLK and the national trauma that followed. Essentially, the shift from black optimism to black pessimism.
Chapter six, “Revolutionary Suicide” is an autobiography by Huey Newton who was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The chapter covers the autobiography and Newton’s importance to the movement.
Chapter seven, “The Obama Coalition” brings us to 2008 where Barack Obama ran on hope. Dr. Corrigan’s book covers the effect different political figures have had on the African-American community and how they have been disappointed over and over with the prospect of hope that never leads to real progress.