‘Smooth’ and ‘Alternative’ Patriotisms: Chicago and the decline of a civil rights strategy

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At the Riverside Church in New York, April 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. did not just speak out against the war in Vietnam, he was in many ways defending one of the underlying ideological strategies of the entire civil rights movement. He urged people to avoid confusing dissent with disloyalty, stressed that he voiced his opinion to save the soul of America, and cautioned against what he called “smooth patriotism”.i

2This article forwards and explores the idea that a significant ideological characteristic of the civil rights movement was the concept and use of an ‘alternative patriotism.’ After exploring its value as a lens through which to view King and the movement, and the ‘smooth’ patriotism that they were pitted against, the article discusses how the open-housing campaign in Chicago witnessed a fundamental shift in how the strategy was utilised. This represented a broader concern in social and human rights, and helps an understanding of the move toward a more ‘militant’ position from 1966 onwards.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12210
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of American Studies
Issue number2
Early online date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2017


  • Martin Luther King
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Chciago

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