The Surprising History of McDonald’s and the Civil Rights Movement: Marcia Chatelain's Latest Book ReviewedBreaking News
tags: civil rights, books, African American history, McDonalds
Say the name McDonald’s, and what comes to mind? Tasty hamburgers or hardened arteries? Entry-level jobs or dead-end McJobs? Responsive community outreach or mercenary corporate power?
In “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America,” Marcia Chatelain has written a smart and capacious history suggesting that McDonald’s should summon all of those thoughts, and then some.
The cover image on her book encapsulates the multiple layers of the story she tells. On first glance it simply looks like a photograph of two people smiling in front of a McDonald’s as one helps the other register to vote, but on closer inspection the picture has been manipulated to look grainy and frayed. The history in this book is similarly hopeful and fraught, recounting a “somewhat bizarre but incredibly powerful marriage between a fast-food behemoth and the fight for civil rights.”
Fast food is now so cheap and readily available that its consumption is associated more with straitened circumstances than with affluent ones, but that wasn’t always the case. Chatelain, a history professor at Georgetown and the author of “South Side Girls,” about the experiences of black girls in Chicago during the Great Migration, recalls the early days of restaurant franchising in the 1940s and ’50s, when fast-food chains emerged as emissaries of the American dream — with all the complexities of race and money that entailed.
comments powered by Disqus
- Boston Refused to Close Schools During the 1918 Flu. Then Children Began to Die
- Trump Won’t Win by Doubling-Down on his Racist Appeals but the Right’s Open Bigotry Comes at a Cost
- What to Stream: A Blazing Interview with Orson Welles By Richard Brody
- Trump’s Attack on the Postal Service Is a Threat to Democracy—and to Rural America
- Kamala Harris and the Growing Political Power of Black Women
- The Harvard Professor Who Told the World That Jesus Had a Wife (Review)
- For Black Suffragists, the Lens Was a Mighty Sword
- In Women’s Suffrage, a Spotlight for Unsung Pioneers
- A Powerful New Memorial To UVA’s Enslaved Workers Reclaims Lost Lives And Forgotten Narratives
- Unearthing New Histories of Black Appalachia (Review)