American Sociological Association

Theorizing Ethnic and Racial Movements in the Global Age: Lessons from the Civil Rights Movement

In this essay, we reflect on the history and legacies of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and suggest avenues of future research of interest to scholars of ethnic and racial movements. First, we unpack how the Civil Rights Movement developed as a major movement utilizing both international and domestic influences. Second, we consider the central role of technology—including television and Internet communication technologies (ICTs)—in shaping contemporary ethnic and racial activism. In so doing, we aim to enhance scholarship on movements and efforts by those committed to challenging racial and ethnic disparities. Finally, we explore how the collective memories of past racial and ethnic struggles, including the Civil Rights Movement, are constructed. We argue that activists and their opposition have stakes in how past ethnoracial oppression and movements alike will be remembered and interpreted. Such memories and interpretations can serve as the basis for additional demands that activists make on power holders and influence actions of the powerful to resist such demands.


Crystal M. Fleming and Aldon Morris





Starting Page


Ending Page