In this compelling and informative volume, Jimmie R. Hawkins walks the reader through the many forms of Black protest in American history, from pre-colonial times through the George Floyd protests of 2020. Hawkins breaks American history into five sections, with subsections highlighting how Black identity helped to shape protest during that period. These protests include slave ship mutinies, the abolitionist movement, the different approaches to protest from Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Dubois, and Booker T. Washington, protest led by various Black institutions, Black Lives Matter movements, and protests of today’s Black athletes, musicians, and intellectuals, such as Lebron James, Beyonce, and Kendrick Lamar. Hawkins also covers the backlash to these protests, including the Jim Crow era, the Red Summer of 1919, and modern-day wars on the Black community in the form of the War on Drugs and voter suppression.
“If Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 project has a goal of reorienting us to our nation’s origin and development from the perspective of the oppressed, Hawkins similarly reorients our understanding of the nation’s history of political and social protest…Hawkins’ recounting of and commentary on the history of Black protest reframes the experience of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer of 2020.” —Englewood Review of Books
“Incredibly detailed and sobering.” —Presbyterian Outlook
finally have a careful, comprehensive, and complete history of Black
protest in the United States. Hawkins follows the trajectory of Black
social activism over many generations, reminding us that it is a rich
and unbroken tradition. In this age of racial tribalism and reckoning,
all Americans stand to benefit intellectually from reading Unbroken and Unbowed. It
reminds us of not only how far we have come but also how far we must go
to become the nation we have long claimed to be. This is a timely and
immensely significant work!”—Lewis V. Baldwin, author, There Is a Balm in Gilead: The Cultural Roots of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“By chronicling the history of Black-led protest in America, Rev. Hawkins both reveals a tradition of struggle for a more perfect union and unmasks the lie that Black protest is ‘un-American.’ To receive this history is to know and know again that America would not be half the country she is if Black people had not believed her promises and worked with others to make them a reality. God bless Rev. Hawkins for telling the story and living it in his own leadership and witness today.”—Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, Repairers of the Breach, and author, We Are Called to Be a Movement
“This book is a must-read! Jimmie Hawkins’s Unbroken and Unbowed: A History of Black Protest in America explores the history of Black protest over five hundred years in these yet-to-be United States. Articulately, definitively, and comprehensively, Hawkins shows that rather than solely victims of systemic racism and economic injustice, Black leaders are moral, political, and epistemological agents of change throughout every period of American history. This book documents that protest and resistance led by Black people has played a unique and key role in transforming the country into a more perfect union and inspires us to take action for justice and equality today.” —Liz Theoharis, cochair, Poor People’s Campaign, and Director, the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice, Union Theological Seminary, New York