[Blackstudies-l] "We spell Black Power in Rochester with capital letters - F.I.G.H.T.” poster presentation, April 5

Emilye Crosby crosby at geneseo.edu
Thu Mar 31 05:25:18 EDT 2011

Dear Africana/ Black Studies Community,

David O'Donnell, a junior History major, was selected to present at  
the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) posters on the hill event.  
He was one of 74 students selected from a pool of nearly 700. Dave's  
research was supported by a Geneseo Foundation Summer Research  
Fellowship and is the basis for his History Department honors thesis.  
The poster is titled “We spell Black Power in Rochester with capital  
letters - F.I.G.H.T.”: Black Power Organizing in Rochester, New York,  
1965-1967. (abstract below)

Dave will share his work with the Geneseo community by previewing his  
poster on April 5, 4:30-6pm in Milne 213.

Please join me in congratulating Dave and help him prepare for his CUR  
presentation by attending this event.


“We spell Black Power in Rochester with capital letters - F.I.G.H.T.”:  
Black Power Organizing in Rochester, New York, 1965-1967
by David O'Donnell

	The July 1964 race riot in Rochester, New York, shocked residents and
left many questioning how a riot could occur in a city widely regarded  
liberal on issues of civil rights. Based on the traditional narrative of
the Civil Rights Movement—one starting in 1954, ending in 1965, and
focused mostly on the Southern Movement—it is difficult to understand  
structural causes of inequality that led up to the riot. However, using
the lens of recent Movement scholarship, it becomes clear that  
inequality had exacerbated racial tensions in Rochester. To many
activists in the black community, it was clear that something was needed
to unite their community and organize for change. After the riot, black
activists, with financial support from the Rochester Area Council of
Churches, arranged for organizer Saul Alinsky and the Industrial Areas
Foundation to come to Rochester and establish a community organization
that could help unite the black community to fight racial inequality.
	The result was FIGHT, which stood for Freedom, Integration, God, Honor,
Today. Established in 1965, FIGHT was made up of black community groups.
Together, organizers argued, these community groups could become strong
enough to take on the issues that affected community members. FIGHT
recognized the structural barriers that prevented racial equality in
Rochester and understood that no community could overcome inequality
without power. Together, member groups sought to develop a united black
community that could be a source of power. FIGHT fought for community
representation and self-determination in local government, arguing that
black residents deserved a say in how their community was governed. They
also protested housing inequality, and fought against job  
Although FIGHT did not initially use the term “Black Power,” by 1967,
FIGHT had demonstrated key themes of Black Power—unity, pride, and
self-determination—through community organizing.

Emilye Crosby
History Department
1 College Circle
Geneseo, NY 14454
(585) 245-5375
crosby at geneseo.edu

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