Since the early nineteenth century, African-Americans have turned to black newspapers to monitor the mainstream media and to develop alternative interpretations of public events. Ronald Jacobs tells the stories of these newspapers, showing how they increased black visibility within white civil society and helped to form separate black public spheres in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Comparing African-American and 'mainstream' media coverage of some of the most memorable racial crises of the last forty years such as the Watts riot, the beating of Rodney King, the Los Angeles uprisings and the O. J. Simpson trial, Jacobs shows why a strong African-American press is still needed today. Race, Media and the Crisis of Civil Society challenges us to rethink our common understandings of communication, solidarity and democracy. Its engaging style and thorough scholarship will ensure its appeal to students, academics and the general reader interested in the mass media, race and politics.