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Black FeelingsRace and Affect in the Long Sixties$
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Lisa M. Corrigan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496827944

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2021

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496827944.001.0001

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Contouring Black Hope and Despair

Contouring Black Hope and Despair

(p.23) Chapter Two Contouring Black Hope and Despair
Black Feelings

Lisa M. Corrigan

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Martin Luther King, Jr.’s production of the “beloved community” that he wanted to produce through direct action protests in places like Birmingham, Selma, and Chicago. It evaluates how hope, disappointment, indignation, and despair framed King’s direct action and the SCLC’s intimate relationship with the black middle class, the White House, and white liberals. After John F. Kennedy’s assassination, King’s faith and optimism were shaken and his language about emotion shifted as he was forced to reconsider and respond to the use of rage as a black political emotion because the decade gave way to a more militant black posture about the white political and emotional inadequacies. Corrigan argues that white failure to perform intimate citizenship limited the civil rights movement and fueled rhetorical expressions that engaged a very different emotional repertoire for both whites and blacks. Many of King’s discourses, especially in relation to Birmingham, focused on the relationship between hope and despair as he attempted to translate black feelings about civil rights to white publics as the crisis of hope deepened in 1963.

Keywords:   Martin Luther King, Jr., Hope, Despair, Beloved Community, Birmingham

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