This introductory chapter briefly explores the pivotal role of young blacks in social movements and political discourse, and looks at how this role diminished in the post-civil rights movement period. Youth-based activism has been central to black political historiography in the past century. Several youth groups such as the Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were at the forefront of youth activism during the earlier half of the twentieth century. But by the mid-1970s the militant phase of the civil rights, black power, and New Left movements was virtually over and transformational movements—high-risk, geographically diffuse movements—declined toward the end of the twentieth century. The demobilization of these movements was due to political repression, movement fatigue, party realignment, and the triumph of the conservative agenda in the last three decades of the century.
Keywords: young blacks, social movements, political discourse, post-civil rights, youth activism, Southern Negro Youth Congress, political repression, black power, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
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