Jim Crow Wisdom
Memory and Identity in Black America since 1940
Publication Year: 2013
Making discoveries about his own past while researching this book, Holloway weaves first-person and family memories into the traditional third-person historian's perspective. The result is a highly readable, rich, and deeply personal narrative that will be familiar to some, shocking to others, and thought-provoking to everyone.
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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As I’ve discovered, when you write a book about memory, you can become fairly obsessed about your capacity for forgetfulness. Keeping that in mind, I need to begin my acknowledgments with an apology: I can only assume that in the paragraphs that follow I will have forgotten some people—close friends, even—who played a real role in helping this book come to fruition. ...
INTRODUCTION: The Scars of Memory
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The shrill ringing of an alarm clock opens Richard Wright’s explosive 1940 novel Native Son , deploying a new kind of language for the reading public to consider when talking about race. Native Son simultaneously cap-tivated and terrifi ed its readers with the story of Bigger Thomas’s abject poverty and his subsequent slide into an impossible nightmare when he ...
1 Editing and the Art of Forgetfulness in Social Science
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...“But, Mr. Wright, there are so many of us who are not like Bigger!” Aunt Maggie was the family griot. The sister of my paternal grandmother, she was born in 1905, the youngest of eleven children. By the middle 1990s, she was the last surviving sibling of her generation. I barely knew her my-self, but I know that she was a woman of accomplishment. Trained at Ben-...
2 Memory and Racial Humiliation in Popular Literature
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Southern prejudice is much like a treacherous serpent, it lies in wait and springs often without warning just when you least expect it while you are going quietly about your business enjoying life and at peace with the world. — Ralph Matthews, “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience” your mother on a Jim Crow train? Did you ever go to college on a Jim Crow train—...
3 The Black Body as Archive of Memory
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If any one aphorism can characterize the experience of black people in this country, it might be that the white-authored national narrative — Elizabeth Alexander , “‘Can you be BLACK and Look at This?’” I don’t recall the year, but I remember the moment perfectly. My brother sat me down with the promise to show me something that was earth shat-...
4 Black Scholars and Memory in the Age of Black Studies
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...— William Sales, “Response to a ‘Negro Negative,’” If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed only against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough. In order to be whole, we must recognize the despair oppression plants within each of us—that thin persistent voice that says our eff orts are useless, ...
5 The Silences in a Civil Rights Narrative
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... ELIZABETH ALEXANDER : Yes, but I want to reserve the right to JAMES BALDWIN : Black people need witnesses; in this hostile BALDWIN : I don’t think I’m in despair. I can’t aff ord despair. I can’t tell my nephew, my niece; you can’t, you can’t tell the What do we tell our children? What stories do we pass along so that they ...
6 Heritage Tourism, Museums of Horror, and the Commerce of Memory
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... Roots was one of the most important cultural phenomena of the late 1970s. A twelve-hour miniseries dramatizing Alex Haley’s 1976 best-selling novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family , the show was not expected to pull in strong ratings. The series historicized (in Hollywood fashion) the slave trade and the making of an American family—a story in which blacks were ...
EPILOGUE: Memory in the Diaspora
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Africa is the birth of mankind. Africa is the land of my ancestors. I tried to picture in my mind a chief, decked out in cowrie shells, leopard skin, golden bracelets, leading a string of black prisoners of war My people are from North Carolina and Virginia. Why, then, do I fi nd my-self many thousands of miles from my roots, waiting for my tour guide to ...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013