Nyle Fort, *21

Department of Religion

Amazing Grief: African American Mourning and Contemporary Black Activism




Amazing Grief: African American Mourning and Contemporary Black Activism examines how acts of public grief shape contemporary black freedom struggle, with particular focus on the Movement for Black Lives. Political responses to loss have long animated the African American sojourn. From slave rebellions to recent protests against police violence, this project demonstrates how struggles to remember, honor, and avenge the dead imbue black activism and American politics. African American mourning involves more than R.I.P. t-shirts and soul-stirring music. How black communities grieve emerges from a rich tradition that shapes, and is shaped by, contemporary activist efforts. From eulogies and street protests to grieving mothers and the candles that adorned Michael Brown’s memorial, this project not only names the wreckage wrought by legacies of white supremacy and systemic racism, but it exhumes what remains in its wake. Comprising four chapters, the dissertation offers interdisciplinary readings of funerals, makeshift memorials, and the activism of bereaved black mothers in order to explore how African American mourning continues to shape black protest, contemporary social movements, and American electoral politics.


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