Philadelphia Freedoms

Black American Trauma, Memory, and Culture after King

Michael Awkward
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0709-2
Publication: Oct 13

HC: $96.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-0708-5
Publication: Oct 13

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0710-8

264 pages
6 x 9
6 halftones

Tracing racial trauma through Philadelphia sports and cultural production in the four decades after King's assassination

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Michael Awkward’s Philadelphia Freedoms captures the disputes over the meanings of racial politics and black identity during the post-King era in the City of Brotherly Love. Looking closely at four cultural moments, he shows how racial trauma and his native city’s history have been entwined. Awkward introduces each of these moments with poignant personal memories of the decade in focus, chronicling the representation of African American freedom and oppression from the 1960s to the 1990s. Philadelphia Freedoms explores NBA players’ psychic pain during a playoff game the day after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination; themes of fatherhood and black masculinity in the soul music produced by Philadelphia International Records; class conflict in Andrea Lee’s novel Sarah Phillips; and the theme of racial healing in Oprah Winfrey’s 1997 film, Beloved. Awkward closes his examination of racial trauma and black identity with a discussion of candidate Barack Obama’s speech on race at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center, pointing to the conflict between the nation’s ideals and the racial animus that persists even into the second term of America’s first black president.

Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Introduction: Keeping the Past in Lively Memory after King: The Traumatic Implications of Black American Oppression 1 “Philadelphia Did Not Burn”: Quelling Riots and Deferring Hoop Dreams in the Age of the Militant Black Athlete 2 Haunted Longings: Nostalgic Black Musical Formulations of Masculinity and the Patriarchal Family 3 A “Genuinely Afro-American Narrative”: Sarah Phillips and the Politics of Black Textual Authenticity 4 Screening the (Beloved) Novel: On Oprah Winfrey and the Protocols of Adaptation Conclusion: No Longer at Home? Notes References Index

About the Author(s)

Michael Awkward, Gayl A. Jones Professor of Afro-American Literature and Culture at the University of Michigan, is the author, most recently, of Burying Don Imus: Anatomy of a Scapegoat and Soul Covers: Rhythm and Blues Remakes and the Struggle for Artistic Identity.