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Ghosts of Jim Crow

Ending Racism in Post-Racial America

F. Michael Higginbotham

Publication Year: 2013

"Higginbotham provides a thoughtful and perceptive discussion on the role of race in America today. His keen legal analysis and compelling narrative has resulted in a fascinating examination of how far we have come as a nation, but more importantly, of how far we have to go."
—Barbara A. Mikulski, U.S. Senator for Maryland
When America inaugurated its first African American president, in 2009, many wondered if the country had finally become a "post-racial" society. Was this the dawning of a new era, in which America, a nation nearly severed in half by slavery, and whose racial fault lines are arguably among its most enduring traits, would at last move beyond race with the election of Barack Hussein Obama?
In Ghosts of Jim Crow, F. Michael Higginbotham convincingly argues that America remains far away from that imagined utopia. Indeed, the shadows of Jim Crow era laws and attitudes continue to perpetuate insidious, systemic prejudice and racism in the 21st century. Higginbotham’s extensive research demonstrates how laws and actions have been used to maintain a racial paradigm of hierarchy and separation—both historically, in the era of lynch mobs and segregation, and today—legally, economically, educationally and socially.
Using history as a roadmap, Higginbotham arrives at a provocative solution for ridding the nation of Jim Crow’s ghost, suggesting that legal and political reform can successfully create a post-racial America, but only if it inspires whites and blacks to significantly alter behaviors and attitudes of race-based superiority and victimization. He argues that America will never achieve its full potential unless it truly enters a post-racial era, and believes that time is of the essence as competition increases globally.
F. Michael Higginbotham is the Wilson H. Elkins Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. He is the author of Race Law: Cases, Commentary, and Questions. 

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. c-c

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-24

I HAVE WRITTEN law textbooks used in colleges, universities, and law schools across the globe. I have been recognized as one of the top professors in the state of Maryland with the award of an endowed professorship, the oldest and most prestigious offered by the University of Maryland system....

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Introduction: Understanding the Racial Paradigm

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pp. 25-42

FROM 1619, WHEN the first blacks arrived in the Jamestown, Virginia, settlement, racial inequality was imposed through law and maintained by practices.1 In a long history of racial oppression motivated by white desires for economic exploitation and justified by false perceptions of inferiority,...

Part I: Creating the Paradigm: Racial Hierarchy

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1. Constructing Racial Categories from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War

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pp. 45-62

RACIAL CATEGORIZATION HAS been an invaluable tool for facilitating aspects of the paradigm. Without such categorization, aspects of hierarchy and separation could not be implemented. Under the law, slaves had no personal legal rights, and free blacks received limited government...

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2. Maintaining White Dominance during Reconstruction

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pp. 63-84

AFTER THE CIVIL War, slavery ended in name only. Black servitude continued, as vagrancy laws and laws governing black apprentices were clever strategies to perpetuate slavery. Sharecropping and strategies to reduce black field hands to economic dependency precluded a genuine free labor...

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3. Preventing Black Excellence between Plessy and Brown

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pp. 85-116

DURING RECONSTRUCTION, BLACKS had been promised the equality guaranteed in the Constitution.2 Yet, by 1896, on the eve of the Plessy decision, that promise seemed to have been completely destroyed. Black political participation had been dismantled in southern states, where 90%...

Part II: Sustaining the Paradigm: White Isolation and Black Separation and Subordination

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4. Maintaining Racial Segregation in Schools and Neighborhoods from Brown to the 21st Century

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pp. 119-140

FALSE NOTIONS OF white superiority/black inferiority fueled white desires for racial isolation that were supported by laws and case decisions beginning with Reconstruction. As blacks fought for integrated schools, housing, and public accommodations, white resistance increased. Most...

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5. Victimizing Blacks in the 21st Century

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pp. 141-178

DESPITE PRONOUNCEMENTS TO the contrary, as Justice Ginsburg reminded us as the 20th century drew to a close and more than a half-century after Brown I declared an end to Jim Crow segregation, the desire by some whites for racial isolation, and the opportunity to victimize blacks, persists. These desires manifest themselves in a wide variety of areas such...

Part III: Ending the Paradigm: Building a Post-Racial America

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6. Black Empowerment and Self-Help

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pp. 181-200

ERASING THE FALSE image of black inferiority will require increased economic, educational, and political empowerment of blacks, and massive black self-help efforts, particularly in emphasizing the importance of education and limiting the use of racism as an excuse for not trying or for misdirected efforts. This chapter challenges us to break down false notions...

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7. Integration and Equality

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pp. 201-222

FOR BLACKS TODAY, opportunities are much better than they were under Jim Crow. The opportunities to attend college and professional schools have significantly increased. During Jim Crow, no opportunities existed in major colleges and universities in the South. Only a token number of spots opened annually at schools in the North, causing most to rely on a small...


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pp. 223-300

Table of Cases

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pp. 301-304


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pp. 305-315

About the Author

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pp. 316-316

E-ISBN-13: 9780814724460
E-ISBN-10: 0814737471
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814737477
Print-ISBN-10: 0814737471

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 844066541
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Ghosts of Jim Crow