Access your Project MUSE content using one of the login options below Close(X)
Browse Results For:
The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921
When a crows began to gather outside the jail in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the evening of May 31, 1921, the fate of one of its prisoners, a young black male, seemed assured. Accused of attempting to rape a white woman, Dick Rowland was with little doubt about to be lynched. But in another part of town, a small group of black men, many of them World War I veterans, decided to risk lives for a different vision of justice. Before it was all over, Tulsa had erupted into one of America's worst racial nightmares, leaving scores dead and hundreds of homes and businesses destroyed. Exhaustively researched, 'Death in a Promised Land' is compelling story of racial ideologies, southwestern politics, and yellow journalism, and of an embattled black community's struggle to hold onto its land and freedom. More than just the chronicle of one of the nation's most devastating race riots, this critically acclaimed study of American race relations is, above all, a gripping story of terror and lawlessness, and of courage, hedonism, and human perserverance.
The Transformation of Cooking in France, 1650-1832
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, French cooks began to claim central roles in defining and enforcing taste, as well as in educating their diners to changing standards. Tracing the transformation of culinary trades in France during the Revolutionary era, Jennifer J. Davis argues that the work of cultivating sensibility in food was not simply an elite matter; it was essential to the livelihood of thousands of men and women. Combining rigorous archival research with social history and cultural studies, Davis analyzes the development of cooking aesthetics and practices by examining the propagation of taste, the training of cooks, and the policing of the culinary marketplace in the name of safety and good taste. French cooks formed their profession through a series of debates intimately connected to broader Enlightenment controversies over education, cuisine, law, science, and service. Though cooks assumed prominence within the culinary public sphere, the unique literary genre of gastronomy replaced the Old Regime guild police in the wake of the French Revolution as individual diners began to rethink cooks’ authority. The question of who wielded culinary influence—and thus shaped standards of taste—continued to reverberate throughout society into the early nineteenth century. This remarkable study illustrates how culinary discourse affected French national identity within the country and around the globe, where elite cuisine bears the imprint of the country’s techniques and labor organization.
Black Voting Rights Activism in the Jim Crow South, 1890-1910
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Jim Crow strengthened rapidly and several southern states adopted new constitutions designed primarily to strip African American men of their right to vote. Since the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibited eliminating voters based on race, the South concocted property requirements, literacy tests, poll taxes, white primaries, and white control of the voting apparatus to eliminate the region’s black vote almost entirely. Desperate to save their ballots, black political leaders, attorneys, preachers, and activists fought back in the courts, sustaining that resistance until the nascent NAACP took over the legal battle. In Defying Disfranchisement, R. Volney Riser documents a number of lawsuits challenging restrictive voting requirements. Though the U.S. Supreme Court received twelve of these cases, that body coldly ignored the systematic disfranchisement of black southerners. Nevertheless, as Riser shows, the attempts themselves were stunning and demonstrate that African Americans sheltered and nurtured a hope that led to wholesale changes in the American legal and political landscape. Riser chronicles numerous significant antidisfranchisement cases, from South Carolina’s Mills v. Green (1985), the first such case to reach the Supreme Court, and Williams v. Mississippi, (1898), the well-known but little-understood challenge to Mississippi’s constitution, to the underappreciated landmark Giles v. Harris—described as the “Second Dred Scott” by contemporaries—in which the Court upheld Alabama’s 1901 state constitution. In between, he examines a host of voting rights campaigns waged throughout the country and legal challenges initiated across the South by both black and white southerners. Often disputatious, frequently disorganized, and woefully underfunded, the antidisfranchisement activists of 1890–1908 lost, and badly; in some cases, their repeated and infuriating defeats not only left the status quo in place but actually made things worse. Regardless, they brought attention to the problem and identified the legal questions and procedural difficulties facing African Americans. Rather than present southern blacks as victims during the roughest era of discrimination, in Defying Disfranchisement Riser demonstrates that they fought against Jim Crow harder and earlier than traditional histories allow, and they drew on their own talents and resources to do so. With slim ranks and in the face of many defeats, this daring and bold cadre comprised a true vanguard, blazing trails that subsequent generations of civil rights activists followed and improved. By making a fight at all, Riser asserts, these organizers staged a necessary and instructive prelude to the civil rights movement.
Southern Senators and the Fight against Civil Rights, 1938-1965
Few historical events lend themselves to such a sharp delineation between right and wrong as does the civil rights struggle. Consequently, many historical accounts of white resistance to civil rights legislation emphasize the ferocity of the opposition, from the Ole Miss riots to the depredations of Eugene "Bull" Conner's Birmingham police force to George Wallace's stand on the schoolhouse steps. While such hostile episodes frequently occurred in the Jim Crow South, civil rights adversaries also employed other, less confrontational but remarkably successful, tactics to deny equal rights to black Americans. In Delaying the Dream, Keith M. Finley explores gradations in the opposition by examining how the region's principal national spokesmen—its United States senators—addressed themselves to the civil rights question and developed a concerted plan of action to thwart legislation: the use of strategic delay. Prior to World War II, Finley explains, southern senators recognized the fall of segregation as inevitable and consciously changed their tactics to delay, rather than prevent, defeat, enabling them to frustrate civil rights advances for decades. As public support for civil rights grew, southern senators transformed their arguments to limit the use of overt racism and appeal to northerners. They granted minor concessions on bills only tangentially related to civil rights while emasculating those with more substantive provisions. They garnered support by nationalizing their defense of sectional interests and linked their defense of segregation with constitutional principles to curry favor with non-southern politicians. While the senators achieved success at the federal level, Finley shows, they failed to challenge local racial agitators in the South, allowing extremism to flourish. The escalation of white assaults on peaceful protesters in the 1950s and 1960s finally prompted northerners to question southern claims of tranquility under Jim Crow. When they did, segregation came under direct attack, and the principles that had informed strategic delay became obsolete. Finley's analysis goes beyond traditional images of the quest for racial equality--the heroic struggle, the southern extremism, the filibusters--to reveal another side to the conflict. By focusing on strategic delay and the senators' foresight in recognizing the need for this tactic, Delaying the Dream adds a fresh perspective to the canon on the civil rights era in modern American history.
Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Agriculture in the New South
In Delta Empire: Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Agriculture in the New South Jeannie Whayne employs the fascinating history of a powerful plantation owner in the Arkansas delta to recount the evolution of southern agriculture from the late nineteenth century through World War II. After his father’s death in 1870, Robert E. “Lee” Wilson inherited 400 acres of land in Mississippi County, Arkansas. Over his lifetime, he transformed that inheritance into a 50,000-acre lumber operation and cotton plantation. Early on, Wilson saw an opportunity in the swampy local terrain, which sold for as little as fifty cents an acre, to satisfy an expanding national market for Arkansas forest reserves. He also led the fundamental transformation of the landscape, involving the drainage of tens of thousands of acres of land, in order to create the vast agricultural empire he envisioned. A consummate manager, Wilson employed the tenancy and sharecropping system to his advantage while earning a reputation for fair treatment of laborers, a reputation—Whayne suggests—not entirely deserved. He cultivated a cadre of relatives and employees from whom he expected absolute devotion. Leveraging every asset during his life and often deeply in debt, Wilson saved his company from bankruptcy several times, leaving it to the next generation to successfully steer the business through the challenges of the 1930s and World War II. Delta Empire traces the transition from the labor-intensive sharecropping and tenancy system to the capital-intensive neo-plantations of the post–World War II era to the portfolio plantation model. Through Wilson’s story Whayne provides a compelling case study of strategic innovation and the changing economy of the South in the late nineteenth century.
Felix Grundy of the Old Southwest
A central political figure in the first post-Revolutionary generation, Felix Grundy (1775–1840) epitomized the “American democrat” who so famously fascinated Alexis de Tocqueville. Born and reared on the isolated frontier, Grundy rose largely by his own ability to become the Old Southwest’s greatest criminal lawyer and one of the first radical political reformers in the fledgling United States. In Democracy’s Lawyer, the first comprehensive biography of Grundy since 1940, J. Roderick Heller reveals how Grundy’s life typifies the archetypal, post–founding fathers generation that forged America’s culture and institutions. After his birth in Virginia, Grundy moved west at age five to the region that would become Kentucky, where he lost three brothers in Indian wars. He earned a law degree, joined the legislature, and quickly became Henry Clay’s main rival. At age thirty-one, after rising to become chief justice of Kentucky, Grundy moved to Tennessee, where voters soon elected him to Congress. In Washington, Grundy proved so voracious a proponent of the War of 1812 that a popular slogan of the day blamed the war on “Madison, Grundy, and the Devil.” A pivotal U.S. senator during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, Grundy also served as Martin Van Buren’s attorney general and developed a close association with his law student and political protégé James K. Polk. Grundy championed the ideals of the American West, and as Heller demonstrates, his dominating belief—equality in access to power—motivated many of his political battles. Aristocratic federalism threatened the principles of the Revolution, Grundy asserted, and he opposed fetters on freedom of opportunity, whether from government or entrenched economic elites. Although widely known as a politician, Grundy achieved even greater fame as a criminal lawyer. Of the purported 185 murder defendants that he represented, only one was hanged. At a time when criminal trials served as popular entertainment, Grundy’s mere appearance in a courtroom drew spectators from miles around, and his legal reputation soon spread nationwide. One nineteenth-century Nashvillian declared that Grundy “could stand on a street corner and talk the cobblestones into life.” Shifting seamlessly within the worlds of law, entrepreneurship, and politics, Felix Grundy exemplified the questing, mobile society of early nineteenth-century America. With Democracy’s Lawyer, Heller firmly establishes Grundy as a powerful player and personality in early American law and politics.
Duke, Emory, Rice, Tulane, and Vanderbilt
After World War II, elite private universities in the South faced growing calls for desegregation. Though, unlike their peer public institutions, no federal court ordered these schools to admit black students and no troops arrived to protect access to the schools, to suggest that desegregation at these universities took place voluntarily would be misleading In Desegregating Private Higher Education in the South,Melissa Kean explores how leaders at five of the region's most prestigious private universities—Duke, Emory, Rice, Tulane, and Vanderbilt—sought to strengthen their national position and reputation while simultaneously answering the increasing pressure to end segregation. To join the upper echelon of U. S. universities, these schools required increased federal and northern philanthropic funding. Clearly, to receive this funding, schools had to eliminate segregation, and so a rift appeared within the leadership of the schools. University presidents generally favored making careful accommodations in their racial policies for the sake of academic improvement, but universities' boards of trustees—the presidents' main opponents—served as the final decision-makers on university policy. Board members--usually comprised of professional, white, male alumni--reacted strongly to threats against southern white authority and resisted determinedly any outside attempts to impose desegregation. The grassroots civil rights movement created a national crisis of conscience that led many individuals and institutions vital to the universities' survival to insist on desegregation. The schools felt enormous pressure to end discrimination as northern foundations withheld funding, accrediting bodies and professional academic associations denied membership, divinity students and professors chose to study and teach elsewhere, and alumni withheld contributions. The Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 gave the desegregation debate a sense of urgency and also inflamed tensions—which continued to mount into the early 1960s. These tensions and the boards' resistance to change created an atmosphere of crisis that badly eroded their cherished role as southern leaders. When faced with the choice between institutional viability and segregation, Kean explains, they gracelessly relented, refusing to the end to admit they had been pressured by outside forces. Shedding new light on a rare, unexamined facet of the civil rights movement, Desegregating Private Higher Education in the South fills a gap in the history of the academy.
Feminine Identity in White Southern Women's Writing
In this groundbreaking study, Kathaleen E. Amende considers the works and lives of late-twentieth-century southern women writers to explore how conservative Christian ideals of femininity shaped notions of religion, sexuality, and power in the South. Drawing from the work of authors like Rosemary Daniell and Connie May Fowler, whose characters—like the authors themselves—grow up believing that Jesus should be a girl’s first “boyfriend,” Amende demonstrates many ways in which these writers commingled the sexual and the sacred. Amende also looks at the writings of Lee Smith, Sheri Reynolds, Dorothy Allison, and Valerie Martin and discusses how southern women authors and their characters grappled with opposing cultural expectations. Often in their work, characters mingle spiritual devotion and carnal love, allowing for salvation despite rejecting traditional roles or behaviors. In Martin’s A Recent Martyr, novitiate Claire disavows southern norms of femininity—courtship, marriage, and motherhood—but submits to Jesus as she would to a husband. In Reynolds’s Rapture of Canaan, teenage protagonist Ninah Huff imagines that her out-of-wedlock child is the offspring of Christ because of her conviction that Jesus was present during the sexual act that produced him. This tie between sexuality and religion afforded women movement between the two, but any attempt to separate them into compartmentalized spaces, as Amende shows, produces negative consequences—from pain and mental illness to an inability to connect with others. Ultimately, women have to find a way to unite the realms of the body and of faith in order to achieve spiritual and romantic fulfillment. As in Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, where, for the protagonist, gospel music includes both the intensity of violent fantasies along with a spiritual yearning, it is only when the erotic and the spiritual coexist that women achieve full self-realization. Grounded in southern cultural and gender studies and informed by historical, religious, and devotional literature, Amende’s timely and accessible book offers one the first studies to view the intersection of sexuality and Christianity in southern contexts.
Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Walker Percy
In this groundbreaking study, Gary M. Ciuba examines how four of the South's most probing writers of twentieth-century fiction—Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, Cormac McCarthy, and Walker Percy—expose the roots of violence in southern culture. Ciuba draws on the paradigm of mimetic violence developed by cultural and literary critic René Girard, who maintains that individual human nature is shaped by the desire to imitate a model. Mimetic desire may lead in turn to rivalry, cruelty, and ultimately community-sanctioned —and sometimes ritually sanctified—victimization of those deemed outcasts. Ciuba offers an impressively broad intellectual discussion that gives universal cultural meaning to the southern experience of desire, violence, and divinity with which these four authors wrestled and out of which they wrote. In a comprehensive analysis of Porter's semiautobiographical Miranda stories, Ciuba focuses on the prescribed role of women that Miranda imitates and ultimately escapes. O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away reveals three characters whose scandalous animosity caused by religious rivalry leads to the unbearable stumbling block of violence. McCarthy's protagonist in Child of God, Lester Ballard, appears as the culmination of a long tradition of the sacred violence of southern religion, twisted into his own bloody faith. And Percy's The Thanatos Syndrome brings Ciuba's discussion back to the victim, in Tom Moore's renunciation of a society in which scapegoating threatens to become the foundation of a new social regime. From nostalgia for the old order to visions of a utopian tomorrow, these authors have imagined the interrelationship of desire, antagonism, and religion throughout southern history. Ciuba's insights offer new ways of reading Porter, O'Connor, McCarthy, and Percy as well as their contemporaries who inhabited the same culture of violence—violence desired, dreaded, denied, and deified.
A Girl's Life in Russia, Germany, and America
In her moving and deeply personal memoir, Ella E. Schneider Hilton chronicles her remarkable childhood—one that took her from the purges of Stalinist Russia to the refugee camps of Nazi and postwar Germany to the cotton fields of Jim Crow Mississippi before granting her access to the American dream. Despite her hard life as a refugee, Ella finds solace in others and retains her indomitably inquisitive spirit. Throughout her ordeals, she never relinquishes hope or sight of her goal of education. Poignantly and freshly rendered, this is a tale of determination. It is the story of a girl caught up first in the maelstrom of World War II and then in the complexities of American southern culture, adjusting to events beyond her control with resiliency as she searches for faith, knowledge, and a place in the world.