We are living in a time of chaos... in the whole political structure,” Ralph Ellison told a Senate committee on August 30, 1966. Responding to a query by Senator Robert Kennedy, the acclaimed author of Invisible Man explained, “We do not have the political structures to contain the energies set lose by the Civil Rights bills.
1966 was a pivotal year in the struggle for Civil Rights and Black Freedom, a year when the intense civic engagement and the demands for racial justice that fueled the Civil Rights Movement converged in loosely aligned efforts to confront deeper structures of racial division and inequality. Such a reckoning was critical to moving the country in a new direction. For a moment, there appeared to be an alternative to the urban blight, law-and-order politics and racialized criminal justice policies that would shape “post-Civil Rights” America.