Drake Award 2021 Recipients

Congratulations to our 2021 recipients of the Richard Drake Award for Student Writing!

-Undergraduate: Stephen Hayes

"A Time for Radical Action: The Black Grassroots Freedom Struggle in America's Second City in the Mid-1960s"

Abstract: The traditional civil rights narrative focuses on the South, national organizations, and the men who led these organizations. Consequently, this narrative often ignores important actions and actors that fall outside this limited purview. The traditional narrative also presupposes that nonviolence was the movement’s primary organizing ethos. Yet recent scholarship has challenged this assumption and argued that armed resistance was also critical. This essay examines Chicago grassroots activists who challenged school segregation, police brutality, and housing discrimination and argues that most actions in Chicago were not nonviolent. If one defines nonviolence as the refusal to respond to violence in kind, then many peaceful actions can be redefined as unviolent. This essay uses the concepts of armed, unviolent, and nonviolent resistance to develop a new framework called the resistance continuum. This framework allows one to understand more intuitively that all movement actions were fundamentally resistance to oppression rather than competing acts from antithetical factions. Furthermore, one can more easily explain how purported dogmatists vacillated and sometimes found cause to welcome actions that conflicted with their ostensible philosophy. These actors sought only to advance their cause, which occasionally meant sliding along the continuum. Ultimately, this essay argues that most actions in Chicago were unviolent because actors there had greater opportunities for unviolent resistance as compared to the South. Moreover, women took advantage of opportunities for unviolent resistance more than men and were frequently leaders of Chicago activism. Lastly, nonviolent actors at times traversed the continuum to participate in armed resistance, and vice versa. 

 

-Graduate: Jared Norwood

"The Other NRA: The National Rehabilitation Association, the American State, and the Defense of Disability, 1925-1935"

Abstract: In 1920, Congress passed the Smith-Fess Act establishing the Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation program for the nation’s crippled population and placed it under the direction of the Federal Board for Vocational Education (FBVE). The language of the law provided only scant criteria for the states to follow in the implementation of the program. Due to the lack of professional qualifications and credentials among staff, a group of rehabilitation officials, state-level directors and members of the FBVE, gathered in private to establish a new organization tasked with bringing the needs of the rehabilitation program and people with disabilities to the attention of federal officials. The National Rehabilitation Association (NRA), established to provide some level of national standards, quickly evolved into an authoritative body that wielded the power of the FBVE. Governmental agencies in the post-World War I era emerged to fill the gaps between federal and state power; Congress tended to act while agencies and nongovernmental organizations tended to react. What happened, however, if a nongovernmental association chose to act? This essay explores this question and argues that the NRA, not the FBVE, acted as the primary policy vehicle for change.