Type: Public event

Beyond civil rights: The Moynihan Report and its legacy

Date & time

Apr 6, 2015, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT


Weill Hall, Annenberg Auditorium
735 S. State Street Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Free and open to the public.

Reception to follow.

Join the conversation: #policytalks

Daniel Geary, the author of Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and its Legacy (forthcoming from University of Pennsylvania Press, June 2015), will discuss the relationship between the Moynihan Report and the civil rights movement. Geary will also talk about the policy implications of the Moynihan Report and other topics he touches upon in his book. The Ford School welcomes back Anthony Chen, an associate professor of sociology and political science at Northwestern University, to comment on Geary’s talk. PhD candidate Matthew Alemu will also participate, providing sociological context for the Moynihan Report around the study of black families. The Ford School’s own Joy Rohde will moderate and professor Sandra Danziger will introduce the program.


From Daniel Geary's bio:

Daniel Geary is the Mark Pigott assistant professor of U.S. history at Trinity College, Dublin. Professor Geary's research focuses on the twentieth century United States, with a particular emphasis on the intellectual, political, and cultural history of the century’s middle decades. His interests include: political ideologies and movements, especially liberal and left-wing varieties; the development of American ideas about race and ethnicity; and the history of the social sciences and their role in shaping public discourse and public policy.  His first book was a biography of the American social critic C. Wright Mills, Radical Ambition: C. Wright Mills, The Left, and American Social Thought (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009). He was awarded his MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and his BA from the University of Virginia.

His forthcoming book, Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and Its Legacy (June 2015) is the launch pad for discussion at the Policy Talks event.


More about Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and Its Legacy:

Shortly after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Daniel Patrick Moynihan authored a government report titled The Negro Family: A Case for National Action that captured the attention of President Lyndon Johnson. Responding to the demands of African American activists that the United States go beyond civil rights to secure economic justice, Moynihan thought his analysis of black families highlighted socioeconomic inequality. However, the report's central argument that poor families headed by single mothers inhibited African American progress touched off a heated controversy. The long-running dispute over Moynihan's conclusions changed how Americans talk about race, the family, and poverty.

Fifty years after its publication, the Moynihan Report remains a touchstone in contemporary racial politics, cited by President Barack Obama and Congressman Paul Ryan among others. Beyond Civil Rights offers the definitive history of the Moynihan Report controversy. Focusing on competing interpretations of the report from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, Geary demonstrates its significance for liberals, conservatives, neoconservatives, civil rights leaders, Black Power activists, and feminists. He also illustrates the pitfalls of discussing racial inequality primarily in terms of family structure. Beyond Civil Rights captures a watershed moment in American history that reveals the roots of current political divisions and the stakes of a public debate that has extended for decades.


From Anthony Chen's bio:

Anthony S. Chen is a political and historical sociologist. He is interested in the political development of public policy in the United States from the New Deal, and he has special interests in civil rights, social policy, and business-government relations.

He is the author of The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941-1972 (Princeton, 2009), which offers a new account of how and why affirmative action emerged in employment. In collaboration with Lisa M. Stulberg, he is completing a book on the origins and development of affirmative action in college admissions. His work has appeared in the American Journal of SociologyJournal of American History, and Studies in American Political Development, among other outlets. Chen is co-editor of Studies in American Political Development.

Chen received his BA from Rice University and his PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, where was a Soros Fellow and later a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research. Before joining the faculty at Northwestern, Chen was on the faculty for eight years at the University of Michigan.


From Matthew Alemu's bio:

Matthew Alemu completed his B.S. in accounting at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans in 2006. Afterwards, he received his MPP from the University of Michigan in 2009. Before returning to University of Michigan in Fall 2012, Matthew worked as a policy analyst at the Government Accountability Office in Washington D.C. Matthew's research interest focuses on disadvantaged black males and how they construct meaning in light of various social obstacles and stigmas.


From Joy Rohde's bio:

Joy Rohde is a historian working at the intersection of U.S. intellectual history, political and policy history, and science and technology studies. She is interested broadly in the role that experts—especially social scientists—play in domestic and foreign policy debates. Her first book, Armed with Expertise: The Militarization of American Social Research during the Cold War (Cornell University Press, 2013), investigates the Cold War origins and contemporary consequences of the Pentagon’s social research contracting system.

Joy is currently working on two projects. One is a synthetic history of the roles that the social sciences have played in foreign policy since the late 19th century. The second is a book project that examines the intellectual and policy consequences of mathematization and computerization of social scientific and policy research in the post-World War II United States.  

Prior to joining the Ford School, Joy was assistant professor of history at Trinity University. She has held research fellowships from the University of Virginia Miller Center of Public Affairs, Harvard University, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the University of Michigan.


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