Historian Matthew Delmont discusses the controversy over school desegregation in the 1960s and 70s and how it was reduced by the media and politicians to the frame of “busing” students.  He reflects on the political implications of turning civil rights and segregation in the North into the narrow issue of school transfers. Resources: Matthew F. … Continued


Against the Grain

How Revolutionary Was the Pill?

The birth control pill has been called revolutionary; it’s been associated with a revolution in contraception, with the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and with what’s called the therapeutic revolution of the mid-20th century. Elizabeth Watkins discusses the pill’s development and impact in the arenas of medical practice, women’s liberation, popular perception, and pharmaceutical marketing. … Continued


Creative destruction is the hallmark of capitalism, as the economist Joseph Schumpeter argued.  But the destructive side is often overlooked.  Francesca Ammon discusses the enormous wave of demolition that accompanied the postwar boom — transforming the rural, urban and suburban landscape, and displacing the residents of scores of communities around the United States. Resources: Francesca … Continued


Against the Grain

The Lost History of 20th Century Anarchism

In the popular imagination, U.S. anarchism ended with the deportation of Emma Goldman in 1919, only to re-emerge recently with the masked Black Block.  But according to scholar Andrew Cornell, anarchism survived and thrived in mid-century America, deeply influencing bohemia, Civil Rights, and the New Left. Resources: Andrew Cornell, Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the … Continued


Bernie Sanders, the self-styled democratic socialist from Vermont, catalyzed the discontent of many Americans with economic inequality and injustice — and with the mainstream of the Democratic Party, which has presided over neoliberalism. However, Jeffrey St. Clair argues, Sanders not only butted up against the formidable Clinton machine, but was hobbled by his own political … Continued


Against the Grain

Banks, Cops, and the Imperative to Resist

At this year’s annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, three prominent scholar-activists spoke about power and resistance. Walden Bello addressed the structural power of banks and, more generally, finance capital. Kimberlé Crenshaw pointed to the targeting by police of Black women. And Mariame Kaba described police torture in Chicago, and a successful push for … Continued


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