New Book Reveals Forgotten Figures of Civil Rights Movement: News Releases: The Independent Institute

The Power of Independent Thinking


Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

News Release
June 30, 2009

New Book Reveals Forgotten Figures of Civil Rights Movement
Argues Individualism, Classical Liberal Roots Have Been Neglected by Party Politics

“ . . . an intellectual thrill ride . . . full of revelations and stunning in its honesty.”
—Juan Williams, National Public Radio

“We are one human race . . . as my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘we must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools.’ Life, liberty, and justice are matters of the heart and go beyond politics and legislation. The essential book, Race and Liberty in America, is a major step in the process.”
—Alveda C. King, Founder and Chairman, King for America

OAKLAND, Calif., June 30, 2009—As the United States works toward an era that rejects racial discrimination while recognizing individual merit, the history of the civil rights movement is receiving a deserved amount of additional attention. Perhaps, however, the very content of this history is in need of review. While the modern progressive canon gives prominence to important figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Jackson, and Malcolm X, a number of other significant contributors are regularly overlooked. The cause? Distracting partisan politics, special interest groups, and a divisive red state/blue state mentality.

In his new book Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader (July 17, 2009 / The University Press of Kentucky with The Independent Institute), Independent Institute Research Fellow Jonathan Bean strives to fill in the gaps. He presents an anthology of texts and historical documents chosen not by party affiliation, but by their relation to the classical liberal principles of individual freedom, the Constitution, colorblindness, Christian teachings, and free-market capitalism. This approach, asserts Bean, has been muddled if not lost altogether over the past century.

Classical liberalism, he continues, has been erroneously grouped with “conservatism” for decades. “Not surprisingly,” he writes, “many classical liberals have forgotten their own history.” In a new age of civil rights, both the Left and the Right are in great need of a “historical compass.” Race and Liberty in America serves as a primer for regaining their footing.

While this volume is a valuable reference for scholars and leaders, it has an equal appeal for the more general student of civil rights and race relations. In addition to a wide range of material concerning the African-American experience from the Revolutionary War through present day, the editor includes documents that pertain to Native American property rights, anti-Semitism and Japanese-American internment during World War II, and the current immigration debate.

Bean also brings attention to notable yet neglected texts by figures such as Moorfield Storey, first president of the NAACP, Kelly Miller, former dean of Howard University, and Sen. Robert Taft, leader of a 1940s movement to purge racism from the U.S. Senate. Looking outside the political realm, admirers of writers Rose Wilder Lane, H.L. Mencken, and Zora Neale Hurston will be pleased to read their eloquent, seldom-published reflections on racial equality.

Though some may initially question the need for “another” book on race relations, indeed Bean shows that Race and Liberty in America merits added consideration on the strength of its scope and dedication to uncovering relevant materials. The book’s emphasis on the critical value of information and discourse over narrow partisan agendas make it a compelling collection for subscribers of all schools of thought.

Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader
Edited by Jonathan J. Bean
Published by The University Press of Kentucky
July 17, 2009 | Paperback | 332 pages | $24.95 | ISBN 978-0-81319-231-4

# # #

  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless