Beacon Press: History Teaches Us to Resist
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History Teaches Us to Resist

How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times

Author: Mary Frances Berry

How progressive movements can flourish even in conservative times

Despair and mourning after the election of a hostile president are part of the push-pull of American politics. But resistance to presidential administrations has historically led to positive change and the defeat of outrageous proposals, even in perilous times. And though conservative presidents require massive public protest to enact policy decisions, the same can be true of progressive ones. For instance, Barack Obama and the Indigenous protests against the Dakota pipeline is one modern example of resistance built on earlier actions. Resistance sometimes fails, but it has usually been successful, even if it does not achieve all of a movement’s goals.

Scholar Mary Frances Berry examines the following instances of resistance during the times of various presidential administrations:
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt and the March on Washington movement
  • The movement against the Vietnam War*
  • Reagan, civil rights, and the AIDS epidemic*
  • The Free South Africa movement*
  • The pro-choice protests during George H. W. Bush’s presidency**
  • Bill Clinton and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy**
  • The Patriot Act and the War in Iraq

Dr. Berry herself participated in these movements, either as an activist (*) or by serving in that administration (**).
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“At this excruciating moment of crisis and looming catastrophe, Mary Frances Berry reminds us that our most powerful weapon in the struggle ahead is simply us. This is a book of hard-won lessons and real inspiration, something to read and then keep in your backpack for ready reference as we take to the streets and mobilize to storm the heavens.”
—Bill Ayers

“I can imagine no one more qualified than Dr. Mary Frances Berry to write this crucially needed and powerful book. As an award-winning historian, as someone with firsthand experience serving in multiple presidential administrations, and as an activist for over sixty years in movements ranging from civil rights and anti–Vietnam War protest to Free South Africa and LGBTQ rights, to name a few, Berry has exceptional experience and vital knowledge about creating resistance movements. We need to listen, learn, and act.”
—Anthony D. Romero, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union

“Dr. Mary Frances Berry provides an essential book for our troubled times and reminds us that ‘past is prologue.’ Every progressive activist and lawyer will want to pore over the engrossing behind-the-scenes details of the accounts in this book to learn how activists navigated reactionary periods in American political life. History Teaches Us to Resist is an encouraging reminder that, with strategic discipline, progressives have always found creative ways to advance the work of justice and equality—even in the worst of times.”
—Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund


History Teaches Us to Resist

ISBN: 978-080700546-0
Publication Date: 3/13/2018
Size: x
Price:  $26.95
Format: Cloth
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: March 2018
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