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Quincy Mills Lecture

The Wages of Resistance: Considering the Subsistence of Social Movements

Friday, December 5, 2014, 2:30pm

Schuessler Institute for Social Research, Room 100

Quincy MillsThe Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society presents:

The Wages of Resistance:
Considering the Subsistence of Social Movements

(Department of History, Vassar College)

Friday, December 5; 2:30 PM
Schuessler Institute for Social Research, Room 100

The often used phrase, “freedom isn’t free,” was more than a rallying cry for personal sacrifice during the black freedom movement. Money mattered. African Americans who faced economic reprisals because they attempted to register to vote, black activists who devoted their working lives to the cause of freedom, and organizations who attempted to manage several civil rights projects while supporting activists in the field and local blacks who were fired from their jobs, all acutely understood that resources were essential to movement building. While sociologists hammered out resource mobilization theories in the 1970s and 1980s, in this lecture I use a labor lens, outside of the formal economy, to think about subsistence as a func- tion of movement politics. I will use SNCC’s Food for Freedom program to demonstrate how it facilitat- ed the distribution of resources to local communities and made plain the connection between the vote and pocketbook politics. Moreover, the food and cloth- ing distributions demonstrated that SNCC’s voter registrations drives, and its larger work, required a well-oiled fundraising machine to sustain its work.

Quincy Mills is an associate professor of history at Vassar College. His first book, Cutting Along the Color Line: Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America (2013), chronicles the history of black barber shops as businesses and civic institutions, demonstrating their central role in civil rights struggles throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is currently at work on his second monograph, tentatively titled The Wages of Resistance: Financing the Black Freedom Movement, which examines how civil rights and black power organizations negotiated fundraising imperatives with their political ideologies as functions of movement building.

For more information, visit: indiana.edu/~crres/speakerseries.shtml