The Dawn Broke Hot and Somber
U.S. Race Riots of 1964
by Ann V. Collins
November 2018, 164pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3724-1
$46, £35, 40€, A63
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3725-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Often overlooked in historical examinations of collective racial violence in America in the 1960s, riots in 1964 predated the riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles the following year.

What were the socioeconomic conditions and factors that resulted in riots erupting in northern U.S. cities in 1964? This book examines the year in American history that brought a new era in race relations to the nation.

As the end of the second decade of the 21st century approaches, America seems on the verge of widespread civil unrest due to what is perceived to be consistent injustices against people of color, both in terms of lack of opportunity to improve their socioeconomic status and their treatment at the hands of law enforcement. Similar race-based resentment and anger swept the nation half a century ago. Can the United States avoid a repeat of the past?

The Dawn Broke Hot and Somber: U.S. Race Riots of 1964 fills a crucial gap in racial collective violence literature, examining the changing nature of riots in the United States and identifying the conditions and factors that led to the anger and frustration that resulted in riots in July and August of 1964. Through its careful evaluation of specific riots in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, this book shows how cultural and economic changes intersected with political circumstances to shape human actions. Readers will understand the effects that the riots had on the major political and economic issues of 1964, such as the implementation of the Civil Rights Act and the War on Poverty as well as the events of and the outcome of the presidential election between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. The book also analyzes the actions taken by local, state, and federal officials to try to understand and quell the violence and considers the racial unrest that followed these riots in the later years of the 1960s and beyond.


  • Presents a comprehensive analysis of the violence that plagued the United States during a crucial period of race relations—information that cannot be found in a single source in the existing literature on racial violence
  • Offers in-depth case studies of specific riots that erupted in 1964
  • Explains why riots occurred where they did in the United States
  • Explores the 1964 riots within the context of the broader social, economic, and political issues of the 1960s
Ann V. Collins, PhD, is associate professor of political science at McKendree University, Lebanon, IL. She is author of Praeger's All Hell Broke Loose: American Race Riots from the Progressive Era through World War II.


"Ann V. Collins’ The Dawn Broke Hot and Somber presents the first comprehensive examination of the urban riots of 1964 in Harlem, Rochester, Philadelphia, as well as smaller cities in New Jersey and Illinois. Collins contends that 1964 marked a 'hinge of history.' Her study offers an important corrective to the conventional understanding of the riots of the 1960s which focuses almost exclusively on the riots in Watts, Newark and Detroit, in 1965 and 1967, respectively, at the expense of those that took place before 1965."—Peter B. Levy, Professor of History, York College, York, Pennsylvania
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