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CANCELLED - Waking from the Dream Part 1: Martin Luther King's Last Victory

Most Americans have a distorted memory of the decline and fall of the Civil Rights Movement, David Chappell will argue. Press coverage at the time, and retrospective accounts from academia and mass media, blew the riots that followed the King assassination out of proportion.

Date & Time

Mar. 17, 2014
4:00pm – 5:30pm


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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CANCELLED - Waking from the Dream Part 1: Martin Luther King's Last Victory



Washington History Seminar
Historical Perspectives on International and National Affairs

Waking From the Dream Part 1: Martin Luther King's Last Victory

David Chappell

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 Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, the Raleigh News and Observer, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; the Nation On-Line, the World Policy Journal, Tempo Magazine (Rio de Janeiro), Sekai Magazine (Tokyo), In These Times, Books and Culture,, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Historically 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, the Journal of Southern History, and the African American Review. He teaches history at the University of Oklahoma.

Monday March 17, 2014
4:00 p.m. 
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room
Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop

March 24: Nancy Beck Young, University of Houston, "Why We Fight: The Politics of World War II"

Reservations requested because of limited seating:

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.


David Chappell

University of Oklahoma
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History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program uses history to improve understanding of important global dynamics, trends in international relations, and American foreign policy.  Read more


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