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Race Harmony and Black Progress

Jack Woofter and the Interracial Cooperation Movement

Mark Ellis

Publication Year: 2013

Founded by white males, the interracial cooperation movement flourished in the American South in the years before the New Deal. The movement sought local dialogue between the races, improvement of education, and reduction of interracial violence, tending the flame of white liberalism until the emergence of white activists in the 1930s and after. Thomas Jackson (Jack) Woofter Jr., a Georgia sociologist and an authority on American race relations, migration, rural development, population change, and social security, maintained an unshakable faith in the "effectiveness of cooperation rather than agitation." Race Harmony and Black Progress examines the movement and the tenacity of a man who epitomized its spirit and shortcomings. It probes the movement’s connections with late 19th-century racial thought, Northern philanthropy, black education, state politics, the Du Bois-Washington controversy, the decline of lynching, the growth of the social sciences, and New Deal campaigns for social justice.

Published by: Indiana University Press

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

My interest in T. J. Woofter Jr. began when I came across his defense of the record of African American soldiers in World War I. He served as an officer in the AE F HQ under Pershing and was certain that derogatory comments made about the Ninety-second Division during and after the war were false. All I knew then...


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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. 1-16

This book assesses the interracial cooperation movement in the South before the New Deal and focuses on the work of its most important young white activist, the Georgian sociologist Thomas Jackson (Jack) Woofter Jr. (1893–1972). As a field worker, researcher, and organizer, he maintained an unshakable faith in the “effectiveness of cooperation rather than agitation when real results are ...

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1 Jack Woofter: The Education of a Southern Liberal

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pp. 17-37

Born in Macon, Georgia, in 1893, Thomas Jackson (“Jack”) Woofter Jr. was raised in an atmosphere of new south optimism about public education, economic re-generation, good roads, and the resurgence of the white middle class. an only child, with slight connections to the planter aristocracy in Georgia, he was part of the post- Populist generation that assumed responsibility for the modernization ...

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2 Thomas Jesse Jones and Negro Education

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pp. 38-61

Education reform was the most freely debated aspect of southern race relations after 1910, but most educationists, philanthropists, and state officials concurred on the need to enhance cheap, practical, segregated schooling for black children. Michael Dennis, among others, has argued that the expansion of industrial education meshed with the models favored by progressive educators and...

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3 Migration and War

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pp. 62-79

After three years as a Phelps-Stokes researcher, Woofter applied for graduate study at Columbia University, where the sociologists and statisticians in the Department of Social Science rivaled those at the University of Chicago. He knew that Thomas Jesse Jones’s career as a social scientist began with a PhD from Columbia, but his financial circumstances and the University of Georgia’s lack of accreditation...

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4 Will Alexander and the Commission on Interracial Cooperation

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pp. 80-112

Jack Woofter joined the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC) on a temporary basis, but his commitment to the work in Atlanta was so clear that Anson Phelps Stokes let him stay. During the early 1920s, as the interracial cooperation movement became more conspicuous, Woofter found his second great mentor in the CIC’s Missouri-born cofounder and director, Will W. Alexander. ...

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5 Dorsey, Dyer, and Lynching

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pp. 113-142

Physically slight and carefully spoken, Jack Woofter was an unlikely adversary, and yet as secretary of the Georgia State Committee on Race Relations (GSC RR) he showed courage and determination. An acquaintance recalled him as “very quiet, rather blond, of medium height. His face was sensitive, the features delicate yet masculine. When the commission had board meetings, at Blue...

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6 The Limits of Interracial Cooperation

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pp. 143-173

In February 1926, W. E. B. Du Bois told readers of the Crisis that the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC) represented “the definite breaking up of the effort of the South to present morally and socially a solid front to the world.”1 He arrived at this judgment gradually, knowing that many equal-rights activists would disagree, and despite mixed signals regarding the interracial cooperation ...

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7 Northern Money and Race Studies

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pp. 174-194

In March 1925, at the first National Interracial Conference in Cincinnati, Jack Woofter and Will Alexander discovered how ambivalently African Americans regarded the interracial cooperation movement. The conference was held under the auspices of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC) and the Federal Council of Churches (FCC ) and organized by black economist and social...

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8 Howard Odum and the Institute for Research In Social Science

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pp. 195-231

In 1913, Jack Woofter’s father, T. J. Woofter Sr., gave the sociologist Howard W. Odum a much-needed job in the school of education at the University of Georgia, where he stayed until 1918, gaining a reputation as an energetic scholar and administrator. After a brief tenure at his alma mater, Emory University, Odum moved to the University of North Carolina, where he repaid the favor by hiring Jack Woofter ...

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pp. 232-244

The conventional view of the southern interracial cooperation movement of the 1910s and 1920s is that it was too conservative and, by implication, that it would have achieved more by challenging racial discrimination head-on. This is wrong on both counts. The movement was about as critical, far-reaching, and effective as the forbiddingly racist and violent context allowed, and the CIC, in...


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pp. 245-286


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pp. 287-316


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pp. 317-330

E-ISBN-13: 9780253010667
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253010599

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 5 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013