|2009-2011||MFA, University of Virginia|
|2002-2006||BA, Dartmouth College|
Speaking to a group of editors and broadcasters in 1964, President Johnson remarked that, “What is written in your papers and the way in which you conduct your business helps millions of Americans in hundreds of cities and towns in shaping the kind of world that we are going to live in. These views, in turn, affect the actions of your representatives in Congress. They affect the Presidency. They provide the solid framework for public opinion which is both the principal support and the principal limitation of democracy.” Though crude, Johnson’s description of the relationship between democratic institutions and the news media captures the basic view taken by both government officials and activists in the late 1960s, for whom “public opinion” was a strategic battlefield, as elusive as it was contested.
My dissertation explores the structural processes through which a hegemonic “public opinion” about Black Power was produced and then instrumentalized within institutions controlled by European American men in the late 1960s. I argue that a “consensus” meaning of the concept was generated in the white public sphere as a discursive site, thereby opening up a space for political activation within largely white-controlled government institutions at the national, state, and municipal levels. This multi-pronged approach allows me to provide greater insight into racialized cultural political processes within the American federalist system. The project is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on methodologies from political philosophy, critical race theory, and mass media studies, though situated firmly within the historiography of black freedom movements.