Cover: To Stand and Fight in PAPERBACK

To Stand and Fight

The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City

The story of the civil rights movement typically begins with the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and culminates with the 1965 voting rights struggle in Selma. But as Martha Biondi shows, a grassroots struggle for racial equality in the urban North began a full ten years before the rise of the movement in the South. This story is an essential first chapter, not only to the southern movement that followed, but to the riots that erupted in northern and western cities just as the civil rights movement was achieving major victories.

Biondi tells the story of African Americans who mobilized to make the war against fascism a launching pad for a postwar struggle against white supremacy at home. Rather than seeking integration in the abstract, black New Yorkers demanded first-class citizenship—jobs for all, affordable housing, protection from police violence, access to higher education, and political representation. This powerful local push for economic and political equality met broad resistance, yet managed to win several landmark laws barring discrimination and segregation.

To Stand and Fight demonstrates how black New Yorkers launched the modern civil rights struggle and left a rich legacy.

Awards & Accolades

  • 2004 Gustavus Myers Center Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights
The Education Trap: Schools and the Remaking of Inequality in Boston, by Cristina Viviana Groeger, from Harvard University Press

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, by Beth Lew-Williams, from Harvard University Press

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Part II

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re showcasing titles that document the Asian American experience. Our second excerpt comes from Beth Lew-Williams’s prizewinning book The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, which historian Richard White describes as “a powerful argument about racial violence that could not be more timely.” Monday night, Gong was asleep in his tent when the vigilantes returned