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African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930
This manuscript is a collection of thirteen essays looking at the formative decades in the history of modern American mass culture. Bringing together original work from sixteen distinguished scholars in various disciplines, ranging from theater and literature to history and music, this manuscript addresses the complex roles of black performers, entrepreneurs, and consumers in American mass culture. With subjects ranging from representations of race in sheet music illustrations to African American interest in Haitian culture and with topics spanning the end of the nineteenth century to the Great Depression, these essays expand the discussion of both black culture and American popular culture during the early twentieth century. This anthology presents a fresh and multidisciplinary look at the history of African Americans and mass culture.
Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era
Nearly a half century after the civil rights movement, racial inequality remains a defining feature of American life. Along a wide range of social and economic dimensions, African Americans consistently lag behind whites. This troubling divide has persisted even as many of the obvious barriers to equality, such as state-sanctioned segregation and overt racial hostility, have markedly declined. How then can we explain the stubborn persistence of racial inequality? In Beyond Discrimination: Racial Inequality in a Post-Racist Era, a diverse group of scholars provides a more precise understanding of when and how racial inequality can occur without its most common antecedents, prejudice and discrimination. Beyond Discrimination focuses on the often hidden political, economic and historical mechanisms that now sustain the black-white divide in America. The first set of chapters examines the historical legacies that have shaped contemporary race relations. Desmond King reviews the civil rights movement to pinpoint why racial inequality became an especially salient issue in American politics. He argues that while the civil rights protests led the federal government to enforce certain political rights, such as the right to vote, addressing racial inequities in housing, education, and income never became a national priority. The volume then considers the impact of racial attitudes in American society and institutions. Phillip Goff outlines promising new collaborations between police departments and social scientists that will improve the measurement of racial bias in policing. The book finally focuses on the structural processes that perpetuate racial inequality. Devin Fergus discusses an obscure set of tax and insurance policies that, without being overtly racially drawn, penalizes residents of minority neighborhoods and imposes an economic handicap on poor blacks and Latinos. Naa Oyo Kwate shows how apparently neutral and apolitical market forces concentrate fast food and alcohol advertising in minority urban neighborhoods to the detriment of the health of the community.
The Origins and Legacies of the Central High Crisis
Based on extensive archival work, private paper collections, and oral history, this book includes eight of John Kirk’s essays, two of which have never been published before. Together, these essays locate the dramatic events of the crisis within the larger story of the African American struggle for freedom and equality in Arkansas.
America is currently in the midst of a major racial and ethnic demographic shift. By the twenty-first century, the population of Hispanics and Asians will increase significantly, while the black population is expected to remain relatively stable. Non-Hispanic Whites will decrease to just over half of the nation's population. How will the changing ethnic and racial composition of American society affect the long struggle for black political power and inclusion? To what extent will these racial and ethnic shifts affect the already tenuous nature of racial politics in American society?
Using the literature on black politics as an analytical springboard, Black and Multiracial Politics in America brings together a broad demography of scholars from various racial and ethnic groups to assess how urban political institutions, political coalitions, group identity, media portrayal of minorities, racial consciousness, support for affirmative action policy, political behavior, partisanship, and other crucial issues are impacted by America's multiracial landscape.
Contributors include Dianne Pinderhughes, M. Margaret Conway, Pei-te Lein, Susan Howell, Mack Jones, Brigitte L. Nacos, Natasha Hritzuk, Marion Orr, Michael Jones-Correa, A.B. Assensoh, Joseph McCormick, Sekou Franklin, Jose Cruz, Erroll Henderson, Mamie Locke, Reuel Rogers, James Endersby, Charles Menifield and Lawrence J. Hanks.
Race relations in twenty-first-century America will not be just a black-and-white issue. The 2000 census revealed that Hispanics already slightly outnumber African Americans as the largest ethnic group, while together Blacks and Hispanics constitute the majority population in the five largest U.S. cities. Given these facts, black-brown relations could be a more significant racial issue in the decades to come than relations between minority groups and Whites. Offering some of the first in-depth analyses of how African Americans and Hispanics perceive and interact with each other, this pathfinding study looks at black-brown relations in Houston, Texas, one of the largest U.S. cities with a majority ethnic population and one in which Hispanics outnumber African Americans. Drawing on the results of several sociological studies, the authors focus on four key issues: how each group forms and maintains stereotypes of the other, areas in which the two groups conflict and disagree, the crucial role of women in shaping their communities’ racial attitudes, and areas in which Hispanics and African Americans agree and can cooperate to achieve greater political power and social justice.
Strengths, Weaknesses, and Strategies for Change
The majority of African American children live in homes without their fathers, but the proportion of African American children living in intact, two-parent families has risen significantly since 1995. Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society looks at father absence from two sides, offering an in-depth analysis of how the absence of African American fathers affects their children, their relationships, and society as a whole, while countering the notion that father absence and family fragmentation within the African American community is inevitable. Editors Obie Clayton, Ronald B. Mincy, and David Blankenhorn lead a diverse group of contributors encompassing a range of disciplines and ideological perspectives who all agree that father absence among black families is one of the most pressing social problems today. In part I, the contributors offer possible explanations for the decline in marriage among African American families. William Julius Wilson believes that many men who live in the inner city no longer consider marriage an option because their limited economic prospects do not enable them to provide for a family. Part II considers marriage from an economic perspective, emphasizing that it is in part a wealth-producing institution. Maggie Gallagher points out that married people earn, invest, and save more than single people, and that when marriage rates are low in a community, it is the children who suffer most. In part III, the contributors discuss policies to reduce absentee fatherhood. Wornie Reed demonstrates how public health interventions, such as personal development workshops and work-related skill-building services, can be used to address the causes of fatherlessness. Wade Horn illustrates the positive results achieved by fatherhood programs, especially when held early in a man's life. In the last chapter, Enola Aird notes that from 1995 to 2000, the proportion of African American children living in two-parent, married couple homes rose from 34.8 to 38.9 percent; a significant increase indicating the possible reversal of the long-term shift toward black family fragmentation. Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society provides an in-depth look at a problem affecting millions of children while offering proof that the trend of father absence is not irrevocable.
Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War
Black Flag over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War highlights the central role that race played in the Civil War by examining some of the ugliest incidents that played out on its battlefields. Challenging the American public’s perception of the Civil War as a chivalrous family quarrel, twelve rising and prominent historians show the conflict to be a wrenching social revolution whose bloody excesses were exacerbated by racial hatred.
Edited by Gregory J. W. Urwin, this compelling volume focuses on the tendency of Confederate troops to murder black Union soldiers and runaway slaves and divulges the details of black retaliation and the resulting cycle of fear and violence that poisoned race relations during Reconstruction. In a powerful introduction to the collection, Urwin reminds readers that the Civil War was both a social and a racial revolution. As the heirs and defenders of a slave society’s ideology, Confederates considered African Americans to be savages who were incapable of waging war in a civilized fashion. Ironically, this conviction caused white Southerners to behave savagely themselves. Under the threat of Union retaliation, the Confederate government backed away from failing to treat the white officers and black enlisted men of the United States Colored Troops as legitimate combatants. Nevertheless, many rebel commands adopted a no-prisoners policy in the field. When the Union’s black defenders responded in kind, the Civil War descended to a level of inhumanity that most Americans prefer to forget.
In addition to covering the war’s most notorious massacres at Olustee, Fort Pillow, Poison Spring, and the Crater, Black Flag over Dixie examines the responses of Union soldiers and politicians to these disturbing and unpleasant events, as well as the military, legal, and moral considerations that sometimes deterred Confederates from killing all black Federals who fell into their hands. Twenty photographs and a map of massacre and reprisal sites accompany the volume.
The contributors are Gregory J. W. Urwin, Anne J. Bailey, Howard C. Westwood, James G. Hollandsworth Jr., David J. Coles, Albert Castel, Derek W. Frisby, Weymouth T. Jordan Jr., Gerald W. Thomas, Bryce A. Suderow, Chad L. Williams, and Mark Grimsley.
Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South
<p class="red">An analysis of the Leo Frank case as a measure of the complexities characterizing the relationship between African Americans and Jews in America
In 1915 Leo Frank, a Northern Jew, was lynched in Georgia. He had been convicted of the murder of Mary Phagan, a young white woman who worked in the Atlanta pencil factory managed by Frank. In a tumultuous trial in 1913 Frank's main accuser was Jim Conley, an African American employee in the factory. Was Frank guilty?
In our time a martyr's aura falls over Frank as a victim of religious and regional bigotry. The unending controversy has inspired debates, movies, books, songs, and theatrical productions. Among the creative works focused on the case are a ballad by Fiddlin' John Carson, David Mamet's novel The Old Religion in 1997, and Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown's musical Parade in 1998.
Indeed, the Frank case has become a touchstone in the history of black-Jewish cultural relations. How- ever, for too long the trial has been oversimplified as the moment when Jews recognized their vulnerability in America and began to make common cause with African Americans.
This study has a different tale to tell. It casts off old political and cultural baggage in order to assess the cultural context of Frank's trial, and to examine the stress placed on the relationship of African Americans and Jews by it. The interpretation offered here is based on deep archival research, analyses of the court records, and study of various artistic creations inspired by the case. It suggests that the case should be understood as providing conclusive early evidence of the deep mutual distrust between African Americans and Jews, a distrust that has been skillfully and cynically manipulated by powerful white people.
Black-Jewish Relations on Trial is concerned less with what actually happened in the National Pencil Company factory than with how Frank's trial, conviction, and lynching have been used as an occasion to explore black-Jewish relations and the New South. Just as with the O. J. Simpson trial, the Frank trial requires that Americans make a profound examination of their essential beliefs about race, sexuality, and power.
Jeffrey Melnick is an assistant professor of American studies at Babson College and the author of A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song.
Emancipation and Freedom, 1862-1884
Kentucky occupied an unusual position with regard to slavery during the Civil War as well as after. Since the state never seceded, the emancipation proclamation did not free the majority of Kentucky's slaves; in fact, Kentucky and Delaware were the only two states where legal slavery still existed when the thirteenth amendment was adopted by Congress. Despite its unique position, no historian before has attempted to tell the experience of blacks in the Commonwealth during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Victor B. Howard's Black Liberation in Kentucky fills this void in the history of slavery and emancipation. In doing so, however, he does not just chronicle the experiences of black Kentucky, because as he notes in his introduction, "such a work would distort the past as much as a book concerned solely with white people." Beginning with an overview of the situation before the war, Howard examines reactions to the emancipation proclamation and how the writ was executed in Kentucky. He also explores the role the army played, both during the war as freed black enlisted and after the war as former slaves transitioned to freedom.
The situation for former slaves in Kentucky was just as precarious as in other southern states, and Howard documents the challenges they faced from keeping families together to finding work. He also documents the early fights for civil rights in the state, detailing battles over the right to testify in court, black suffrage, and access to education. As Black Liberation in Kentucky shows, Kentucky's slaves fought for their freedom and rights from the beginning, refusing to continue in bondage and proving themselves accomplished actors destined to play a critical role in Civil War and Reconstruction.