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By  Paul Von Blum
Illustrated by Frank Reynoso

ISBN-13: 978-1-934389-89-8
Price: US $15.95
eBook ISBN: 978-1-934389-90-4
eBook Price: US $15.95
January 12, 2016


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A large swath of literature on the civil rights movement exists in the United States. Much of that literature focuses on the dramatic events of the African American resistance to Jim Crow and oppression from the mid 1950s through the early 1970s. Frequently, this material is scholarly and, at best, only marginally accessible to the general public.


Moreover, many of the books on the modern civil rights movement focus exclusively on a narrow historical time frame and often on widely recognized public figures like Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King.


Civil Rights For Beginners fills a major gap by placing the modern civil rights movement into a broader historical perspective. It also discusses the civil rights and liberation movements from the 60s to the present that the African American freedom struggles helped to catalyze including: the Chicano Movement, the American Indian Movement, the Asian-American Movement, the Women’s Movement, and the Gay Liberation Movement. 

Unlike most civil rights books, Civil Rights For Beginners focuses less on major leaders and more on the ordinary African Americans who provided the backbone of the successful protests and demonstrations. Moreover, it deals with the expressive culture of the movement, surveying key developments in literature, music, visual art, and film, all of which served both as integral features of the movement as well as contributing to its enduring legacy.


Paul Von Blum is Senior Lecturer in African American Studies and Communication Studies at UCLA.  He has taught at the University of California since 1968, serving 11 years at UC Berkeley before arriving at UCLA in 1980.  He is the author of six books and numerous articles on art, culture, education, and politics. His most recent book is “A Life at the Margins: Keeping the Political Vision,” his 2011 memoir that chronicles almost 50 years of political activism, starting with his civil rights work in the South and elsewhere in the early 1960s. Paul lives in Los Angeles, CA.


Frank Reynoso is a Brooklyn-based writer, cartoonist, and illustrator. His comics have appeared in "BRKLYNR, Mint, World War 3 Illustrated", and "Occupy Comics", and he's done illustrations for For Beginners Books, "The Physics of the Impossible" on the Science channel, and "Mayfair Games".


“In clear, concise prose, Paul Von Blum provides a thorough overview of the remarkable history of the struggle for Civil Rights in the United States. Especially valuable is the way in which he locates the roots of the activism of the 1950s and 60s in earlier instances of black resistance to racial oppression in this country, from chattel slavery through Jim Crow segregation. Compellingly written and thoughtfully conceptualized, this compact volume offers an enlightening examination of a crucial phenomenon in U.S. history, one that continues to shape our national identity and to challenge us all to close the gap between our expressed ideals and the vexed reality of our social relations.”

— Richard Yarborough, Professor of English and African American Studies, University of California-Los Angeles

“Paul Von Blum has written a concise yet extensive history of the civil rights movement in the United States. Both specialists and general readers will benefit from his well-written narrative of American Americans' long struggle for freedom, dignity, and full legal equality. They will also appreciate how the author ties that historic struggle with those of other oppressed groups in America, including women, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and gays and lesbians. The Civil Rights Movement For Beginners adds a valuable new dimension to the growing literature about the ongoing movement for social justice.”

— Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and Chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department, Occidental College; author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame

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