Jim Crow Era, Segregation, and the Great Migration
A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, from Slavery to the Great Migration by Steven Hahn
Publication Date: Cambridge: MA: Harvard University Press, 2003
This is the epic story of how African-Americans, in the six decades following slavery, transformed themselves into a political people--an embryonic black nation. As Steven Hahn demonstrates, rural African-Americans were central political actors in the great events of disunion, emancipation, and nation-building. At the same time, Hahn asks us to think in more expansive ways about the nature and boundaries of politics and political practice. Emphasizing the importance of kinship, labor, and networks of communication, A Nation under Our Feet explores the political relations and sensibilities that developed under slavery and shows how they set the stage for grassroots mobilization. Hahn introduces us to local leaders, and shows how political communities were built, defended, and rebuilt. He also identifies the quest for self-governance as an essential goal of black politics across the rural South, from contests for local power during Reconstruction, to emigrationism, biracial electoral alliances, social separatism, and, eventually, migration.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Call Number: Essential Read
Publication Date: New York: Random House, 2010
In this beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She tells this story primarily through the life of three migrants from the south: to California, Chicago and New York. Wilkerson interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.
On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st CenturyOn the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century by Sherrilyn A. Ifill
Call Number: Essential Read -
Publication Date: 2018 (10th Anniv. Ed., 2018, includes new forward by Bryan Stevenson and a new afterword by the author.)
Nearly 5,000 black Americans were lynched between 1890 and 1960, and, as Sherrilyn Ifill argues, the effects of this racial trauma continue to resound. She issues a clarion call for American communities with histories of racial violence to be proactive in facing this legacy. Inspired by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and drawing on techniques of restorative justice, she offers concrete ways for communities to heal, including help with debates about the National Anthem and Civil War monuments.
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon
Call Number: Essential Read
Publication Date: New York: Doubleday, 2008
In this sobering and groundbreaking account, Douglas Blackmon details how from the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II, under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these "debts," prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries, and farm plantations. Thousands of others were simply seized and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Armies of "free" black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery -- From the publisher's description.
Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice by David M. Oshinksy
Publication Date: New York: Free Press, 1996
In this sensitively told tale of suffering, brutality, and inhumanity, Worse Than Slavery is an epic history of race and punishment in the deepest South from emancipation to the civil rights era--and beyond. Immortalized in blues songs and movies like Cool Hand Luke and The Defiant Ones, Mississippi's infamous Parchman State Penitentiary was, in the pre-civil rights south, synonymous with cruelty. Now, noted historian David Oshinsky gives us the true story of the notorious prison, drawing on police records, prison documents, folklore, blues songs, and oral history, from the days of cotton-field chain gangs to the 1960s, when Parchman was used to break the will of civil rights workers who journeyed south on Freedom Rides.
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
Call Number: Essential Read
Publication Date: New York: Liveright, 2017
In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America's cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation--that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation--the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments--that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.
When Affirmative Action Was White by Ira Katznelson
Call Number: Essential Read
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2005
Ira Katznelson fundamentally recasts our understanding of twentieth-century American history and demonstrates that all the key programs passed during the New Deal and Fair Deal era of the 1930s and 1940s were created in a deeply discriminatory manner. Through mechanisms designed by Southern Democrats that specifically excluded maids and farm workers, the gap between blacks and whites actually widened despite postwar prosperity. In the words of noted historian Eric Foner, "Katznelson's incisive book should change the terms of debate about affirmative action, and about the last seventy years of American history."
The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, With a New Preface, 2nd ed. by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Call Number: First ed.
Publication Date: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019. First ed. published, 2012
How did we come to think of race as synonymous with crime? A brilliant and deeply disturbing biography of the idea of black criminality in the making of modern urban America, The Condemnation of Blackness reveals the influence this pernicious myth, rooted in crime statistics, has had on our society and our sense of self. Black crime statistics have shaped debates about everything from public education to policing to presidential elections, fueling racism and justifying inequality. How was this statistical link between blackness and criminality initially forged? Why was the same link not made for whites? In the age of Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump, under the shadow of Ferguson and Baltimore, no questions could be more urgent. "The role of social-science research in creating the myth of black criminality is the focus of this seminal work"--Elizabeth Hinton, The Nation.
The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit - Updated Edition, with a new preface by the author by Thomas J. Sugrue
Call Number: First ed., 1996
Publication Date: Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014
Once America's "arsenal of democracy," Detroit is now the symbol of the American urban crisis. In this reappraisal of America's racial and economic inequalities, Thomas Sugrue asks why Detroit and other industrial cities have become the sites of persistent racialized poverty. He challenges the conventional wisdom that urban decline is the product of the social programs and racial fissures of the 1960s. Weaving together the history of workplaces, unions, civil rights groups, political organizations, and real estate agencies, Sugrue finds the roots of today's urban poverty in a hidden history of racial violence, discrimination, and deindustrialization that reshaped the American urban landscape after World War II. This edition includes a new preface by Sugrue, discussing the lasting impact of the postwar transformation on urban America and the chronic issues leading to Detroit's bankruptcy.
Coming of Age in Jim Crow DC: Navigating the Politics of Everyday Life by Paula C. Austin
Publication Date: New York University Press: New York, 2019
Coming of Age in Jim Crow DC offers a complex narrative of the everyday lives of black young people in a racially, spatially, economically, and politically restricted Washington, DC, during the 1930s. In contrast to the ways in which young people have been portrayed by researchers, policy makers, law enforcement, and the media, Paula C. Austin draws on previously unstudied archival material to present black poor and working class young people as thinkers, theorists, critics, and commentators as they reckon with the boundaries imposed on them in a Jim Crow city that was also the American emblem of equality. The narratives at the center of this book provide a different understanding of black urban life in the early twentieth century, showing that ordinary people were expert at navigating around the limitations imposed by the District of Columbia's racially segregated politics.
Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy by Mary L. Dudziak
Publication Date: Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000
Mary Dudziak interprets postwar civil rights as a Cold War feature. She argues that the Cold War helped facilitate key social reforms, including desegregation. Civil rights activists gained tremendous advantage as the government sought to polish its international image. But improving the nation's reputation did not always require real change. This focus on image rather than substance--combined with constraints on McCarthy-era political activism and the triumph of law-and-order rhetoric--limited the nature and extent of progress. Archival information, much of it newly available, supports Dudziak's argument that civil rights was Cold War policy. But the story is also one of people: an African-American veteran of World War II lynched in Georgia; an attorney general flooded by civil rights petitions from abroad; the teenagers who desegregated Little Rock's Central High; African diplomats denied restaurant service; black artists living in Europe and supporting the civil rights movement from overseas; conservative politicians viewing desegregation as a communist plot; and civil rights leaders who saw their struggle eclipsed by Vietnam.
The Jim Crow Routine: Everyday Performances of Race, Civil Rights, and Segregation in Mississippi by Stephen A. Berrey
Publication Date: Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015
This book demonstrates how every day, individuals made, unmade, and remade Jim Crow in how they played their racial roles--how they moved, talked, even gestured. The highly visible but often subtle nature of these interactions constituted the Jim Crow routine. In this study of Mississippi race relations in the final decades of the Jim Crow era, Stephen Berrey argues that daily interactions between blacks and whites are central to understanding segregation and the racial system that followed it. He shows how civil rights activism, African Americans' refusal to follow the Jim Crow script, and national perceptions of southern race relations led Mississippi segregationists to change tactics. No longer able to rely on the earlier routines, whites turned instead to less visible but equally insidious practices of violence, surveillance, and policing, rooted in a racially coded language of law and order. Reflecting broader national transformations, these practices laid the groundwork for a new era marked by black criminalization, mass incarceration, and a growing police presence in everyday life.
Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class by Larry Tye
Publication Date: New York: Henry Holt, 2005
When George Pullman began recruiting Southern blacks as porters in his luxurious new sleeping cars, the former slaves suffering under Jim Crow laws found his offer of a steady job and worldly experience irresistible. They quickly signed up to serve as maid, waiter, concierge, nanny, and occasionally doctor and undertaker to cars full of white passengers, making the Pullman Company the largest employer of African Americans in the country by the 1920s. Drawing on extensive interviews with dozens of porters and their descendants, Larry Tye reconstructs the complicated world of the Pullman porter and the vital cultural, political, and economic roles they played as forerunners of the modern black middle class. Rising from the Rails provides a lively and enlightening look at this important social phenomenon.
Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy Taylor
Publication Date: New York: Abrams Books, 2020
The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists. Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the "black travel guide to America." At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn't eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America.
Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights by Gretchen Sorin
Publication Date: New York: Liveright Publishing, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, 2020
The ultimate symbol of independence and possibility, the automobile has shaped this country from the moment the first Model T rolled off Henry Ford's assembly line. Yet cars have always held distinct importance for African Americans, allowing black families to evade the many dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. Gretchen Sorin recovers a forgotten history of black motorists, and recounts their creation of a parallel, unseen world of travel guides, black only hotels, and informal communications networks that kept black drivers safe. At the heart of this story is Victor and Alma Green's famous Green Book, begun in 1936, which made possible that most basic American right, the family vacation, and encouraged a new method of resisting oppression. Enlivened by Sorin's personal history, Driving While Black opens an entirely new view onto the African American experience, and shows why travel was so central to the Civil Rights movement.