This book tells the story of Ivory Perry, a black worker and community activist who, for more than thirty years, has distributed the leaflets, carried the picket signs, and planned and participated in the confrontations that were essential to the success of protest movements. Using oral histories and extensive archival research, George Lipsitz examines the culture of opposThis book tells the story of Ivory Perry, a black worker and community activist who, for more than thirty years, has distributed the leaflets, carried the picket signs, and planned and participated in the confrontations that were essential to the success of protest movements. Using oral histories and extensive archival research, George Lipsitz examines the culture of opposition through the events of Perry’s life of commitment and illumines the social and political changes and conflicts that have convulsed the United States during the past fifty years....
|Title||:||A Life In The Struggle: Ivory Perry and Culture of Oppostion|
|Number of Pages||:||320 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
A Life In The Struggle: Ivory Perry and Culture of Oppostion Reviews
(Assigned reading for a class on how to teach history.) Basically the biography of a low level civil rights worker in St. Louis, Ivory Perry, who was essentially a 'soldier' in the civil rights 'war,' one who never gave up the fight even after others had stopped. Perry was a man essentially forgotten by history till he pushed himself forward to the author (Lipsitz) at a photo show of historical civil rights images, many of which were pics of Perry. This fact prompted the author to write this book about Perry and the part he played in the movement. As such, the book falls squarely into the micro-history movement, where instead of focusing on great generals of history when looking at a war the historian focuses instead on the experiences of the average soldier, or even his wife.While the author claims his intent is to be fair and balanced, it's clear that he romanticizes and idolizes his central character, and puts him up on a pedestal as a martyr to the good fight. A member of the proletariat attempting to rise up against the bourgeoisie (and yes the Marxist analysis runs thick if you know what you're looking at). This is most evident in the last two chapters, but is a underlying current running through the whole book.For myself, while I tasted the kool-aid, at most all it did was give me a bellyache. Throughout the book the author says things like, 'while many might look at Perry and see a sad loser who couldn't function in normal society, what I see is....'Sorry, but what I saw was a guy who happened to stumble upon a context that gave him a purpose and a practical way to feed his addiction for stimulants... in this case adrenaline. To me, when I look at Perry what I see is a guy who suffers from PTSD from two tours in Korea who was was able to find a venue where his need for conflict and danger was not only met, but rewarded, in the same way that it would have been on the battle field. Only, he ran into the same problems as on the battle field, an inability to take direction and follow orders, and a tendency to get into conflicts with his commanding officers, which stymied any attempt on his part to become more than cannon fodder in the battle.There are other aspects of the book however that ring true. I have a handful of friends, who like Perry, are life long civil rights activists, and have been at it for over twenty years. My friends are not 'organic' intellectuals, folks without a traditional education whose language becomes so political that its hard to have a normal conversation with them (you know the type, angry young men who read marx and spout theory rather than thoughts). My friends are, instead, of the more traditional type; they are folks who knew starting out what they wanted to do with their lives, got degrees at top universities and then devoted their lives to things like the UN, the state department, working with Native Americans tribes, teaching in the inner city, working as public defenders, etc. All of them essentially taking vows of poverty, or near poverty, and focusing instead on more ineffable rewards. Lipsitz descriptions of the strains of on these people and what happens to them over time, all rang very true for me.
I think this book is a must read for anyone concerned with racial justice, grassroots organizing, movement building, direct action, and resistance. Or if you're interested in the supposed bit players of the Civil Rights Movement. My Life in the Struggle follows the life of one man, Ivory Perry, an activist, organizer, and agitator in St. Louis, MO. The oral history of Ivory Perry's life allows Lipsitz to explore a number of important themes, such as collective memory, cultures of struggle and opposition, and the roles of individuals in larger social movements. Lipsitz borrows from Gramsci the idea of the "organic intellectual," using Perry's life and activism as a case study in the way individuals respond to oppression and develop as organizers and activists. Perry's story is a powerful argument against a portrayal of history that posits national leaders and figureheads as driving the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s-70s, and thus offers a blueprint of sorts for future movement building. If this all sounds too academic, it's important to note that Lipsitz uses Perry to frame these more abstract ideas in very human terms, allowing Perry to tell his story in his own words. Perry is a figure that is instantly likable and relatable, although Lipsitz does not shy away from presenting Perry as a complicated, at times difficult figure who struggled not only with social causes but personal issues that isolated him and caused distress in his life. The addition of a new epilogue makes Perry's story a tragic one, but still one very much worth understanding and sharing.
Fantastic book! especially important are the chapters on rent strikes and lead poisoning. Lipsitz's portrayal of a life-long activist and organic intellectual whose commitments were always to his communities, not personal gain or an organization echoes Barbara Ransby's of Ella Baker. In focusing on a singular actor, both books expand to present the larger history and context of struggle that made Ivory Perry, and Ella Baker, respectively.
I love Lipsitz's writing. This is the life story of a very important St. Louisan who should be much better known, and whose life and work are strikingly relevant today.