Fight the Power

African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City

336 pages

December, 2018

ISBN: 9781479862450



Add to Cart Available: 11/30/2018

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Clarence Taylor is Professor Emeritus of History at Baruch College, CUNY, and author of The Black Churches of Brooklyn, Knocking at Our Own Door: Milton Galamison and the Struggle to Integrate New York City Schools, Black Religious Intellectuals: The Fight for Equality from Jim Crow to the 21st Century, and, most recently, Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights and the New York City Teachers Union. 

All books by Clarence Taylor

A story of resistance, power and politics as revealed through New York City’s complex history of police brutality
The 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri was the catalyst for a national conversation about race, policing, and injustice.  The subsequent killings of other black (often unarmed) citizens led to a surge of media coverage which in turn led to protests and clashes between the police and local residents that were reminiscent of the unrest of the 1960s.
Fight the Power examines the explosive history of police brutality in New York City and the black community’s long struggle to resist it.  Taylor brings this story to life by exploring the institutions and the people that waged campaigns to end the mistreatment of people of color at the hands of the police, including the black church, the black press, black communists and civil rights activists.  Ranging from the 1940s to the mayoralty of Bill de Blasio, Taylor describes the significant strides made in curbing police power in New York City, describing the grassroots street campaigns as well as the accomplishments achieved in the political arena and in the city’s courtrooms.
Taylor challenges the belief that police reform is born out of improved relations between communities and the authorities arguing that the only real solution is radically reducing the police domination of New York’s black citizens. 


  • "A rigorous and unsettling discussion of decades of police brutality within New York City's communities of color.  Taylor writes with an authoritative knowledge of his urban narrative and controlled prose that doesn't mask anguished urgency about the disturbing topic...An important social history."

    Kirkus Reviews

  • "This well-researched, well-told book provides thoughtful context for the current American reckoning with police brutality. "

    Publishers Weekly

  • "The time is ripe for this kind of book; and this history delivers the most informed and reasonable voice to an unprecedented and eager public readership. I can hardly wait to teach this book in my lectures and seminars in African American, urban and ethnic history and public policy. The American reading public has been presented with a precious gift by Professor Clarence Taylor: Bravo!"

    —Komozi Woodard, author of A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka and Black Power Politics

  • "Taylor provides an essential history of the now, showing how current struggles for racial justice have emerged out of a long history of police abuse, protest, and inadequate reforms."

    —Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing

  • "This timely and urgent account of ​the long reign of police terror inflicted on Black New Yorkers also tells a heroic and largely unheralded story of resistance. In fighting for justice, Black New Yorkers have sought a fundamental redefinition of policing. Clarence Taylor's book is needed now more than ever."

    —Martha Biondi, author of To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City