“He was shot because America will not give up on racism”: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the African American civil rights movement in British schools

Hunt, Megan, Houston, Ben, Ward, Brian and Megoran, Nick (2020) “He was shot because America will not give up on racism”: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the African American civil rights movement in British schools. Journal of American Studies. ISSN 0021-8758 (In Press)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021875820000742

Abstract

This article examines how Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movement with which he is often synonymous are taught in UK schools – and the consequences of that teaching for twenty-first century understandings of Britain’s racial past and present. The UK’s King-centric approach to teaching the civil rights movement has much in common with the US, including an inattention to its transnational coordinates. However, these shared (mis-)representations have different histories, are deployed to different ends, and have different consequences. In the UK, study of the African American freedom struggle often happens in the absence of, and almost as a surrogate for, engagement with the histories of Britain’s own racial minorities and imperial past. In short, emphasis on the apparent singularity of US race relations and the achievements of the mid-twentieth century African American freedom struggle, facilitates cultural amnesia regarding the historic and continuing significance of race and racism in the UK. In light of the Windrush scandal and the damning 2018 Royal Historical Society report on ‘Race, Ethnicity and Equality in UK History,’ this article argues both for better, more nuanced and more relevant teaching of King and the freedom struggle in British schools, and for much greater attention to Black British history in its own right.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: L200 Politics
L300 Sociology
T700 American studies
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2020 10:59
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2020 11:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/43484

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