Violence and Black Youth in Post-Civil Rights U.S. (Edited Collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer Griffiths/New York Institute of Technology, Manhattan Campus
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Violence and Black Youth in Post-Civil Rights U.S.

"Coming to adulthood after the decline of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1950s and 1960s, contemporary Black youth grew up during a period of initial promise, profound change, and, for far too many, heart-wrenching disappointment," asserts Patricia Hill Collins in From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism.

The proposed edited volume will include interdisciplinary essays that consider this generation, particularly in relation violence and the young black body in the public imagination. Graphic knowledge about violence against African American children and the circulation of images and information during the 1950s and 60s, including around the murders of Emmett Till and the four little girls of the Birmingham church bombing, served as a catalyst for many citizens involved in the Civil Rights Movement and shaped the consciousness of an entire generation. What has happened to the reception of the violated black child since this earlier historical moment? This volume will focus on texts that depict children who come of age in a period when the dominant representations of violence against the black child's body in the cases of the Atlanta Child Murders, Latasha Harlins, Girl X, Tawana Brawley, Trayvon Martin, and Shaniya Davis, among others, evoked much different responses within local communities and the larger culture. The essays will also explore creative and cultural texts that address public reception, collective memory, and traumatic legacies related to violence against African American children from 1970s-present.

Violence and Black Youth in Post-Civil Rights U.S. intends to engage recent scholarship on race, the body, and violence, including Harvey Young's Embodying Blackness: Stillness, Critical Memory and the Black Body, Carol E. Henderson's Scarring the Black Body: Race and Representation in African American Literature, Deborah Walker King's African Americans and the Culture of Pain, Lisa Woolfork's Embodying American Slavery in Contemporary in Contemporary Culture, and Jennifer Griffiths' Traumatic Possessions: The Body and Memory in African American Women's Writing and Performance.

It will also address a critical gap in this work around the figure of the African American child in late twentieth-century cultural productions and extends the analysis of work that focuses historical, cultural, and literary representations of African American children within the 19th century through mid-20th century, such as two recent books: Robin Bernstein's recent Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights and Anna Mae Duane's Suffering Childhood in Early America: Violence, Race, and the Making of the Child Victim.

Please send abstracts of approx. 500 words and a brief bio to Jennifer Griffiths at by March 1, 2013.