Power, Politics, and the Decline of the Civil Rights Movement
A Fragile Coalition, 1967–1973
by Christopher P. Lehman
July 2014, 408pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3265-9
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3266-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The Civil Rights Movement influenced antiwar demonstrations in the 1960s–1970s.

The book examines how the coalition among the national African American civil rights organizations disintegrated between 1967 and 1973 as a result of the factionalism that splintered the groups from within as well as the federal government's sabotage of the Civil Rights Movement.

Focusing on four major civil rights groups, Power, Politics, and the Decline of the Civil Rights Movement: A Fragile Coalition, 1967–1973 documents how factions within the movement and sabotage from the federal government led to the gradual splintering of the Civil Rights Movement. Well-known historian Christopher P. Lehman builds his case convincingly, utilizing his original research on the Movement’s later years—a period typically overlooked and unexamined in the existing literature on the Movement.

The book identifies how each civil rights group challenged poverty, violence, and discrimination differently from one another and describes how the federal government intentionally undermined civil rights organizations’ efforts. It also shows how civil rights activists gravitated to political careers, explains the rising prominence of civil rights speakers to the Movement in the absence of political organizing by civil rights groups, and documents the Movement’s influence upon Richard Nixon’s presidency.


  • Identifies the instances in which the civil rights groups acted as a united coalition between 1967 and 1973 and recognizes how disagreements on separatism, feminism, and political campaigning split the Civil Rights Movement into individual civil rights groups
  • Establishes the importance of women to the survival of the Movement in its later years
  • Shows how the Movement influenced antiwar demonstrations of the era and struggled to remain nonviolent as Black Power militancy peaked
  • Details efforts by the White House, the FBI, and state governments to infiltrate and sabotage the Movement
  • Provides broad content ideal for undergraduate and graduate college students taking courses on the Civil Rights Movement as well as for professional and lay historians
Christopher P. Lehman, PhD, is professor of ethnic studies at St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN. His published works include The Colored Cartoon: Black Representation in American Animated Short Films, 1907–1954; A Critical History of Soul Train on Television; and Slavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley, 1787–1865: A History of Human Bondage in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Lehman holds a doctorate in African American studies from the University of Massachusetts and received a summer visiting fellowship to the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University.


"This work should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of the civil rights movement. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."—Choice, February 1, 2015

“Lehman’s book is an essential reference for those who want to understand how the movement functioned (and dysfunctioned) to create the pressures that resulted in eliminating much of the terrorism facing blacks in the South, and how it provided blacks with a sense that change is possible.”—Critical Sociology, October 5, 2015

"This study provides an engaging and much-needed narrative of the fate of national Civil Rights organisations in the later years of the movement. There is compelling analysis of the inter-organisational relationships and conflicts of SNCC, SCLC and other Civil Rights organisations, and interesting insights into the complex and inter-connected factors that contributed to the decline of these organisations."—Reviews in History, October 26, 2015
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