Leadership, Populism, and Resistance
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Leadership, Populism, and Resistance

Edited by Kristin M.S. Bezio and George R. Goethals

Leadership, Populism, and Resistance draws upon the study of history, politics, policy, media, virtue, and heroism to examine the ways in which populism and popular movements have evolved, what we have learned (and failed to learn) from them, how we depict and discuss them through popular media and the press, and, finally, how we can understand virtue and heroism as a consequence—or reaction—to populism and popularity.
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Chapter 5: Crusading for citizenship: how the mid-twentieth-century quest for African American voting rights emphasized plurality over populism

Julian Maxwell Hayter


This chapter examines one of the most popular—not populist—movements in recent history: the American civil rights movement. This movement is celebrated for its adherence to non-violent resistance and direct-action protest. Popular and academic interest in these strategies, however, often overshadows the sustained quest for black voting rights. This chapter contends that the quest for voting rights during the American civil rights movement pushed Washington toward the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 and that this movement and the realization of the VRA were pluralist, rather than populist. Segregationist oligarchies all but ensured that race and class in the South would prohibit broad-based, interracial political coalitions. While the movement stood in direct contrast to the types of elitism that populists often target, African Americans’ quest for a more liberal democracy sought to upend the types of racist populism and elitism that characterized much of Jim Crow segregation.

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