P&P Live! Patricia Sullivan—JUSTICE RISING

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Saturday, September 25, 2021 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

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History, race, and politics converged in the 1960s in ways that indelibly changed America. In Justice Rising, a landmark reconsideration of Robert Kennedy’s life and legacy, Patricia Sullivan draws on government files, personal papers, and oral interviews to reveal how he grasped the moment to emerge as a transformational leader.

When protests broke out across the South, the young attorney general confronted escalating demands for racial justice. What began as a political problem soon became a moral one. In the face of vehement pushback from Southern Democrats bent on massive resistance, he put the weight of the federal government behind school desegregation and voter registration. Bobby Kennedy’s youthful energy, moral vision, and capacity to lead created a momentum for change. He helped shape the 1964 Civil Rights Act but knew no law would end racism. When the Watts uprising brought calls for more aggressive policing, he pushed back, pointing to the root causes of urban unrest: entrenched poverty, substandard schools, and few job opportunities. RFK strongly opposed the military buildup in Vietnam, but nothing was more important to him than “the revolution within our gates, the struggle of the American Negro for full equality and full freedom.”

On the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination, Kennedy’s anguished appeal captured the hopes of a turbulent decade: “In this difficult time for the United States it is perhaps well to ask what kind of nation we are and what direction we want to move in.” It is a question that remains urgent and unanswered.

Patricia Sullivan is the author of Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, the first history of the formative decades of America’s oldest civil rights organization; Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era; and Freedom Writer: Virginia Foster Durr, Letters from the Civil Rights Years. She is William Arthur Fairey II Professor of History at the University of South Carolina.

Peter Edelman is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, and is faculty director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality. On the faculty since 1982, he has also served in all three branches of government, beginning his career working for Robert Kennedy in the DOJ, and going on to serve on both RFK's senatorial and presidential campaigns. Edelman also served as a legislative aid to Senator Kennedy, and is the author of Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America and So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America.

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Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy's America in Black and White Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674737457
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Belknap Press - June 8th, 2021

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