Black Lives, White Lives: Three Decades of Race Relations in America (Paperback)

Black Lives, White Lives: Three Decades of Race Relations in America By Bob Blauner, Gerald Early (Foreword by) Cover Image

Black Lives, White Lives: Three Decades of Race Relations in America (Paperback)

By Bob Blauner, Gerald Early (Foreword by)


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Now with a new foreword, this timely reissue features a remarkable collection of oral histories that trace three decades of turbulent race relations and social change in the United States for a new generation of activists. 

One evening in 1955, Howard Spence, a Mississippi field representative for the NAACP investigating the Emmett Till murder, was confronted by Klansmen who burned an eight-foot cross on his front lawn. "I felt my life wasn't worth a penny with a hole in it." Twenty-four years later, Spence had become a respected pillar of that same Mississippi town, serving as its first Black alderman.
The story of Howard Spence is just one of the remarkable personal dramas recounted in Black Lives, White Lives. Beginning in 1968, Bob Blauner and a team of interviewers recorded the words of those caught up in the crucible of rapid racial, social, and political change. Unlike most retrospective oral histories, these interviews capture the intense racial tension of 1968 in real time, as people talk with unusual candor about their deepest fears and prejudices. The diverse experiences and changing beliefs of Blauner's interview subjects—sixteen of them Black, twelve of them white—are expanded through subsequent interviews in 1979 and 1986, revealing as much about ordinary, daily lives as the extraordinary cultural shifts that shaped them. This book remains a landmark historical and sociological document, and an exceptional primary-source commentary on the development of race relations since the 1960s. Republished with a foreword by Professor Gerald Early, Black Lives, White Lives offers new generations of scholars and activists a galvanizing meditation on how divided America was then and still is today.
Bob Blauner (1929–2016) was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and an author who taught, lectured, consulted, and wrote on race relations. His work was funded by major groups such as the National Institute of Mental Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. His other books include Alienation and Freedom: The Factory Worker and His Industry, Racial Oppression in America, and Resisting McCarthyism: To Sign or Not to Sign California's Loyalty Oath.
Gerald Early is Chair of African and African-American Studies and Professor of English at Washington University. He has written and edited numerous books, including This Is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s and The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.

Product Details ISBN: 9780520386013
ISBN-10: 0520386019
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: February 1st, 2022
Pages: 408
Language: English
"A compelling window into American race relations in the second half of the 20th century.  But more than that, thanks to Blauner’s vision and the skill of his team of researchers, the book has the feel of a sociological classic."
— Society for US Intellectual History