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Title: Representing blackness : MOVE, the media, and the city of Philadelphia
Author: Morgan, Letisha Yvonne
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2004
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In recent decades, black American political scholars have addressed the absence of trans formative societal change in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. The civil rights initiatives of the 1960s and 1970s pledged racial equality and economic redistribution resulting from equitable, formal, political participation. For many, this promise remains unfulfilled. This thesis asserts that part of the problematic relates to a lack oftheorisation regarding differentiation within the black 'community.' Specifically, it is concerned with a group of black activists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called MOVE, and the manner in which its emergence complicated a unitary conception of black community in the 1980s. Formed on the cusp of the Reagan revolution, which signalled a retrenchment of civil rights initiatives nationally, combined with the election of a new cadre of black politicians at the municipallevel-incIuding Philadelphia, MOVE signifies the tenuous position in which these politicians found themselves during the Reagan era. Thus, Philadelphia's first black American mayor, W. Wilson Goode, occupies a central role in understanding the conflicting demands with which this new crop of municipal officials had to contend during this politically volatile time period. Disabled from the task of simply performing their required duties, these men and women were the most accessible representatives of America's 'black community,' and thus embodied the most positive as well as the most negative aspects of the black American population. Therefore, their job description implicitly referenced their capacity to juggle the demands of being black in America. This thesis will also investigate MOVE's representation in the print news media, as it received extensive coverage in the Philadelphia press. Through an analysis of three separate, local newspapers, this study attends to the racialised discourses characterising the group, thereby revealing a state of general anxiety regarding the place of blacks in American society. In this, a consideration of the media's impact upon Mayor Wilson Goode's career becomes a necessity, as the public's perception of his political suitability became inextricably linked with the fate of the MOVE members. Therefore, I attempt to determine how MOVE became 'news,' and in tum, how the group and officials in Philadelphia's city administration succeeded in mobilising the media as a resource for their own ends. Considering MOVE's informal political strategies in tandem with the bureaucracy of formal municipal politics presents an opportunity to address the limitations of both electoral and cultural politics for the black population generally, as well as the persistent problem of political 'representation' within this context. This thesis contributes to knowledge in black American cultural and electoral politics; social movements; the 'Sociology of the Negro' sub-discipline; the media and its role in conceptualising and coping with racial difference; and theories of blackness, liberalism and multiculturalism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: M Music