Hajar Yazdiha and Gene Demby for THE STRUGGLE FOR THE PEOPLE'S KING **IN-PERSON**

Join Loyalty Bookstores for an in-person event with Hajar Yazdiha and Gene Demby to celebrate the release of The Struggle for the People's King! This event will take place at Loyalty Petworth (843 Upshur Street NW, Washington, DC 20011). **This event is free to attend, but registration is required** You can purchase the book from Loyalty below or in-person during the event! Please email  with any questions.


How the misuses of Martin Luther King’s legacy divide us and undermine democracy

In the post–civil rights era, wide-ranging groups have made civil rights claims that echo those made by Black civil rights activists of the 1960s, from people with disabilities to women’s rights activists and LGBTQ coalitions. Increasingly since the 1980s, white, right-wing social movements, from family values coalitions to the alt-right, now claim the collective memory of civil rights to portray themselves as the newly oppressed minorities. The Struggle for the People’s King reveals how, as these powerful groups remake collective memory toward competing political ends, they generate offshoots of remembrance that distort history and threaten the very foundations of multicultural democracy.

In the revisionist memories of white conservatives, gun rights activists are the new Rosa Parks, antiabortion activists are freedom riders, and antigay groups are the defenders of Martin Luther King’s Christian vision. Drawing on a wealth of evidence ranging from newspaper articles and organizational documents to television transcripts, press releases, and focus groups, Hajar Yazdiha documents the consequential reimagining of the civil rights movement in American political culture from 1980 to today. She shows how the public memory of King and civil rights has transformed into a vacated, sanitized collective memory that evades social reality and perpetuates racial inequality.

Powerful and persuasive, The Struggle for the People’s King demonstrates that these oppositional uses of memory fracture our collective understanding of who we are, how we got here, and where we go next.

 “This beautifully written, theoretically sophisticated book analyzes forty years of public contestation over the memory of civil rights... An instant classic.”―Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America  


Hajar Yazdiha is an Assistant Professor of Sociology, faculty affiliate of the EquityResearch Institute, and a 2023-2025 CIFAR Global Azrieli Scholar. Dr. Yazdihareceived herPh.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and is a former FordPostdoctoral Fellow and Turpanjian Postdoctoral Fellow of the Chair in Civil Society and SocialChange.What are the social forces that bring us together and keep us apart? What does it take tofeel like we belong, to a community and to one another? Hajar Yazdiha’s research shows howpowerful institutions like law and media categorize groups into an “us” anda “them” and makethe boundaries between us feel real and natural. She also shows how these categories matter foreveryday people, the communities where we feel like we belong, and how this “groupness”shapes our identity, our politics, and even our imaginations of what type of society may bepossible.Dr. Yazdiha’s research examines these questions by analyzing the mechanismsunderlying the politics of inclusion and exclusion. This work crosses subfields of race andethnicity, migration, social movements,culture, and law using mixed methods includinginterview, survey, historical, and computational text analysis.Dr. Yazdiha’s new book entitled,The Struggle for the People’s King: How PoliticsTransforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement(PrincetonUniversity Press) examineshow a wide range of rivaling social movements across the political spectrum deploy competinginterpretations of the Civil Rights Movement to make claims around national identity andinclusion. Comparing how rival movements constituted by minority and majority groups with arange of identities—racial, gender, sexuality, religious, moral, political—battle over collectivememory, the book documents how the misuses of the racial past erode multicultural democracy.This research provides new insights into the relationship between macro-levelinstitutional structures, meso-level group processes of collective identity formation andcollective behavior, and micro-level perceptions, emotions, and mental health. Through herresearch, Dr.Yazdiha works to understand how systems of inequality become entrenched andhow groups develop strategies to resist, contest, and manifest alternative futures.


Gene Demby is the co-host and correspondent for NPR's Code Switch team. Before coming to NPR, he served as the managing editor for Huffington Post's BlackVoices following its launch. He later covered politics. Prior to that role he spent six years in various positions at The New York Times. While working for the Times in 2007, he started a blog about race, culture, politics and media called PostBourgie, which won the 2009 Black Weblog Award for Best News/Politics Site.

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Event date: 
Thursday, November 16, 2023 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
843 Upshur Street NW
Washington, DC 20011
The Struggle for the People's King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement By Hajar Yazdiha Cover Image
ISBN: 9780691246475
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click on the title to see which location!
Published: Princeton University Press - May 30th, 2023

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