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Black Power and the American Myth is a 1970 book by Reverend C. T. Vivian that analyzes the Civil Rights movement. Before writing Black Power and the American Myth, Vivian had been an activist, a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a member of the Executive Staff of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Vivian was the first member of King's staff to write a book about the Civil Rights movement,[1] and his access gave readers a first-hand account of the thoughts and motivations of the movement's leaders.

Vivian credits King with successfully shifting white Americans' perceptions of the need for equal rights for African-Americans:

It was Martin Luther King who removed the Black struggle from the economic realm and placed it in a moral and spiritual context. It was on this plane that The Movement first confronted the conscience of the nation.[2]

Vivian also describes the process through which the movement's leaders identified important goals and strategies:

In the initial planning stages of The Movement, the leaders identified five goals:
1. The creation of a new condition within the Black community.
2. Inclusion of the Black middle class in the struggle.
3. Bring about significant change in the values of the entire nation.
4. Initiate a new method of social action – that of non-violence.
5. It had to go all the way — there would be no turning back midway.[3]

After its 1970 publication, Black Power and the American Myth became an Ebony Book Club selection and a bestseller.[4]

References

  1. Civil rights strategist C.T. Vivian to probe movement’s 21st century meaning in Stetson, Stetson University, December 27, 1999.
  2. C. T. Vivian, Black Power and the American Myth (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970), pp. 6-7.
  3. C. T. Vivian, Black Power and the American Myth (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970).
  4. Biography of C. T. Vivian, Providence Missionary Baptist Church.

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