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To Render Invisible

Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville

Robert Cassanello

Publication Year: 2013

Fortified by the theories of Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, and Jürgen Habermas, this is the first book to focus on the tumultuous emergence of the African American working class in Jacksonville between Reconstruction and the 1920s. Cassanello brings to light many of the reasons Jacksonville, like Birmingham, Alabama, and other cities throughout the South, continues to struggle with its contentious racial past.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xvi

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Introduction: The Color Line and the Public Sphere

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pp. 1-8

W.E.B. Du Bois in the Souls of Black Folk concluded that “[t]he problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” This quote would frame our understanding of the black experience in America for most of the twentieth century. It is curious that both he and Frederick Douglass, who first coined the term in 1881, imagined the race problem...

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1. Re-Ordered Spaces

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pp. 9-22

Jürgen Habermas conceived of the bourgeois public sphere as a “space for democracy” that was predicated on unity and equality. This was important because in order for a discourse on the common good to emerge, citizens of unequal social and economic backgrounds needed a democratic space where a political consensus could be formed. Although critics...

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2. Democratized Space

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pp. 23-38

The Civil War ushered in a process by which public and private spaces within Jacksonville were in a state of flux. Although not absolute “spaces of democracy,” blacks did enjoy greater freedom from white authority and used the production of space as a way to question the meaning of freedom. The military occupied Jacksonville from the end of the Civil...

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3. The Mob-Public

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pp. 39-58

After the military moved out of Jacksonville in the winter of 1869, black men already inserted themselves into the Reconstruction Era public sphere. Under the guidance and cooperation of Northern white Republicans, blacks engaged civic life. Although the exit of the military signaled an end to Reconstruction, it did not immediately translate into the exclusion...

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4. The Black Counterpublic Emerges

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pp. 59-68

As blacks were slowly pushed out of the public sphere in the 1880s and 1890s, a black counterpublic emerged. Initially the black counterpublic did not organize around politics or political parties but were concerned with questions surrounding the public safety of black suspects in the criminal justice system and the vigor with which the state protected them...

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5. Representations of Private Spaces

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pp. 69-82

The move to push African Americans out of the public sphere had a direct impact on the ways in which private and public spaces were produced. Henri Lefebvre identified spaces that transmit the meaning of social relations and are tied to the “order” that imposes those social relations as “representations of space.” Racial segregation was an example of “representations...

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6. Representations of Public Spaces

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pp. 83-104

The racial segregation of churches and schools followed a linear path from a state of flux, where racial space was ill-defined, ultimately to a point where the state and local governments stepped in to rigidly define space in the private spaces of the classrooms. Laws to reconstruct racial space on public transportation were not as amenable over time as new technologies...

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7. Labor’s Counterpublic

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pp. 105-119

The black counterpublic was not the only one to emerge during this time. In Mary P. Ryan’s Civic Wars, she tracks workers and white women who entered into the public sphere for the first time in the nineteenth century.1 Similar to many other places, labor and woman suffrage counterpublics were organized with and without the inclusion of blacks respectively. Although...

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8. Women’s Counterpublic

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pp. 120-137

A women’s counterpublic evolved differently than labor’s counterpublic. Although black workers were the founders of the local labor movement, white and black women created parallel movements that rarely intersected privately or publicly. As with white labor leaders, when woman’s suffrage emerged in the public sphere, white middle-class women evoked...

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Conclusion: The Black Counterpublic Comes of Age

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pp. 138-150

The black counterpublic evolved over time in Jacksonville. As spaces in the city became less democratized, the opportunities and desire for blacks to join the public sphere openly also decreased. So much so that when the black counterpublic engaged the dominant public it appeared spontaneous and often times caustic as with the cases of the Jacksonville riot...

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Epilogue: Making the Invisible Visible

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pp. 151-154

One of Jacksonville’s most prominent native sons, James Weldon Johnson, looked back with conflicted emotions over the evolution of his hometown in the years since he was a child. For him, the most important characteristic that caused him such pain was the way in which the city became strictly racialized. Johnson believed that white residents and lawmakers...


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pp. 155-170


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pp. 171-182


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pp. 183-188

About the Author

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pp. 206-207

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048314
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044194

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013