Lecture, Lunch and Learn, Partner Event, Online Video     

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: A History of the Civil Rights Movement for Today

Black Lives Matter protests instigated by the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, have continued across the country, as organizers and activists have chanted the names of Floyd and other African Americans killed in police custody and have called on communities and political leaders to reform and even abolish police departments.

As the protests stretched into July, federal agents began deploying stunning force in Portland, Oregon, shooting chemical agents and “less-lethal” ammunitions into the crowds of protesters, while media outlets locally and nationally have offered commentary and reporting on a complex situation with many deep histories. One of the Civil Rights movement's longstanding critiques was of the criminal justice system, and many of the same criticisms of today's activists as disruptive, un-American extremists were then made of the movement, including leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. This program — based on Professor Theoharis’s book, A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History — brings to light ways the Civil Rights Movement was unpopular, disruptive, and courageously persevering and explains how activists embraced an expansive vision of justice that a majority of Americans opposed and which the federal government feared.

This program is presented in partnership with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education.

Jeanne Theoharis is the author or co-author of nine books and numerous articles on the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, the politics of race and education, social welfare, and civil rights in post-9/11 America. Her biography The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parkswon a 2014 NAACP Image Award, the Letitia Woods Brown Award from the Association of Black Women Historians, and was named one of the 25 Best Academic Titles of 2013 by Choice. Her book A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History won the 2018 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize for Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, The NationThe AtlanticSlateSalon, the Intercept, the Boston Review, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Jeanne Theoharis

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