December 1: David Chappell on “Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King”

Exaggerated accounts of urban violence after Martin Luther King’s assassination, David Chappell will argue, have long obscured national reactions of far greater significance.  Most important was the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which had been hopelessly stalled in Congress since 1966.  Both opponents and supporters of the Act said its passage was a response to King’s murder. The Act banned discrimination in rentals, sales, and financing of private housing.  Though many at the time saw this as more radical than the previous Civil Rights laws of 1964 and 1965, the 1968 Act has been almost completely forgotten.  Properly understood, however, it represents the nation’s most significant response to King’s death, and the last serious response to the civil rights movement that King has come to symbolize.  It also defines the post-King era, when his legatees struggled on to eradicate the most intractable and fundamental forms of racial deprivation and degradation.

David Chappell has published three books: Inside Agitators: White Southerners in the Civil Rights Movement (Johns Hopkins, 1994), which won a Gustavus Myers award for Outstanding Book on Human Rights in North America; A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (Chapel Hill, 2004); and, most recently, Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King (Random House, 2014). Chappell’s articles, essays, and reviews have been published in the New York Times, Washington PostChicago Tribune, Newsday, the Raleigh News and Observer, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; the Nation On-Line, the World Policy JournalTempo Magazine (Rio de Janeiro),Sekai Magazine (Tokyo), In These TimesBooks and Culture,, The Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsHistorically Speaking; The African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, The American Historical Review, The Journal of American History, The Journal of American Studies, The Journal of the Historical Society, theJournal of Southern History, and the African American Review. He teaches history at the University of Oklahoma.

The seminar meets at 4:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room, Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for its support. Reservations requested because of limited seating.