Black-oriented radio and the campaign for civil rights in the United States, 1945-1975
This thesis offers a detailed examination of the relationship between black-oriented radio and the African-American campaign for civil rights in the United States between 1945 and 1975. The thesis begins by establishing the central role that black-oriented radio has historically enjoyed in the lives of millions of African-Americans. Arguing that the medium assumed a particular significance in many African-American communities in the post-war era, the study contends that black radio at least enjoyed considerable potential to become an effective vehicle for the articulation of African-American aspirations and grievances. The remainder of the study assesses both the extent, and the ways, in which that potential was harnessed to the black freedom struggle. By charting the evolution of the relationship between the medium and the Movement in three different eras - 1945 to 1954; 1955 to 1965; and 1966 to 1975 - the thesis concludes that black-oriented radio enjoyed a significant, but complex and frequently ambiguous, relationship with the freedom struggle. While most stations eventually adopted a supportive posture towards the issue of civil rights, only a small - if influential - minority undertook a more active commitment to become a genuine force for community mobilisation. Considerable attention is therefore devoted to the personal, social, economic and legal factors which shaped this relationship. In the final part of the study, the main themes of the dissertation are drawn together in a detailed case study, which explores the role of black-oriented radio in the struggles of the African-American community of Washington, D.C.