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Uncovering a Mississippi Family Secret
Growing up, Molly Walling could not fathom the source of the dark and intense discomfort in her family home. Then in 2006 she discovered her father's complicity in the murder of two black men on December 12, 1946, in Anguilla, deep in the Mississippi Delta. Death in the Delta tells the story of one woman's search for the truth behind a closely held, sixty-year old family secret. Though the author's mother and father decided that they would protect their three children from that past, its effect was profound. When the story of a fatal shoot-out surfaced, apprehension turned into a devouring need to know.
Each of Walling's trips from North Carolina to the Delta brought unsettling and unexpected clues. After a hearing before an all-white grand jury, her father's case was not prosecuted. Indeed, it appeared as if the incident never occurred, and he resumed his life as a small-town newspaper editor. Yet family members of one of the victims tell her their stories. A ninety-three-year-old black historian and witness gives context and advice. A county attorney suggests her family's history of commingling with black women was at the heart of the deadly confrontation. Firsthand the author recognizes how privilege, entitlement, and racial bias in a wealthy, landed southern family resulted in a deadly abuse of power followed by a stifling, decades-long cover up.
Death in the Delta is a deeply personal account of a quest to confront a terrible legacy. Against the advice and warnings of family, Walling exposes her father's guilty agency in the deaths of Simon Toombs and David Jones. She also exposes his gift as a writer and creative thinker. The author, grappling with wrenching issues of family and honor, was long conflicted about making this story public. But her mission became one of hope that confronting the truth might somehow move others toward healing and reconciliation.
The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965
After the Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional in 1954, southern white backlash seemed to explode overnight. Journalists profiled the rise of a segregationist movement committed to preserving the "southern way of life" through a campaign of massive resistance. In Defending White Democracy, Jason Morgan Ward reconsiders the origins of this white resistance, arguing that southern conservatives began mobilizing against civil rights some years earlier, in the era before World War II, when the New Deal politics of the mid-1930s threatened the monopoly on power that whites held in the South.
As Ward shows, years before "segregationist" became a badge of honor for civil rights opponents, many white southerners resisted racial change at every turn--launching a preemptive campaign aimed at preserving a social order that they saw as under siege. By the time of the Brown decision, segregationists had amassed an arsenal of tested tactics and arguments to deploy against the civil rights movement in the coming battles. Connecting the racial controversies of the New Deal era to the more familiar confrontations of the 1950s and 1960s, Ward uncovers a parallel history of segregationist opposition that mirrors the new focus on the long civil rights movement and raises troubling questions about the enduring influence of segregation's defenders.
Truth and Reconciliation in Greensboro
On November 3, 1979, five protest marchers in Greensboro, North Carolina, were shot and killed by the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party. There were no police present, but television crews captured the shootings on video. Despite two criminal trials, none of the killers ever served time for their crimes, exposing what many believed to be the inadequacy of judicial, political, and economic systems in the United States. Twenty-five years later, in 2004, Greensboro residents, inspired by post-apartheid South Africa, initiated a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to take public testimony and examine the causes, sequence of events, and consequences of the massacre. The TRC was to be a process and a tool by which citizens could feel confident about the truth of the city’s history in order to reconcile divergent understandings of past and current city values, and it became the foundation for the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States. Spoma Jovanovic, who worked alongside other community members to document the grassroots effort to convene the first TRC in the United States, provides a resource and case study of how citizens in one community used their TRC as a way to understand the past and conceive the future. This book preserves the historical significance of a people’s effort to seek truth and work for reconciliation, shows a variety of discourse models for other communities to use in seeking to redress past harms, and demonstrates the power of community action to promote participatory democracy.
The Slave Plot That Lit a Fuse to Fort Sumter
In 1822, Denmark Vesey was found guilty of plotting an insurrection—what would have been the biggest slave uprising in U.S. history. A free man of color, he was hanged along with 34 other African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, in what historians agree was probably the largest civil execution in U.S. history. At the time of Vesey’s conviction, Charleston was America’s chief slave port and one of its most racially tense cities. Whites were outnumbered by slaves three to one, and they were haunted by memories of the 1791 slave rebellion in Haiti.
In Denmark Vesey’s Revolt, John Lofton draws upon primary sources to examine the trial and provide, as Peter Hoffer says in his new introduction, “one of the most sensible and measured” accounts of the subject. This classic book was originally published in 1964 as Insurrection in South Carolina: The Turbulent World of Denmark Vesey,and then reissued by the Kent State University Press in 1983 as Denmark Vesey’s Revolt: The Slave Plot That Lit a Fuse to Fort Sumter.
Race and Sexuality in Cold War American Literature
A study of race and sexuality and their interdependencies in American literature from 1945 to 1955, Desegregating Desire examines the varied strategies used by eight American poets and novelists to integrate sexuality into their respective depictions of desegregated places and emergent identities in the aftermath of World War II. Focusing on both progressive and conventional forms of cross-race writing and interracial intimacy, the book is organized around four pairs of writers. Chapter one examines reimagined domestic places, and the ambivalent desires that define them, in the southern writing of Elizabeth Bishop and Zora Neale Hurston. The second chapter; focused on poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Edwin Denby, analyzes their representations of the postwar American city, representations which often transpose private desires into a public imaginary. Chapter three explores how insular racial communities in the novels of Ann Petry and William Demby were related to non-normative sexualities emerging in the early Cold War. The final chapter, focused on damaged desires, considers the ways that novelists Jo Sinclair and Carl Offord, relocate the public traumas of desegregation with the private spheres of homes and psyches.Aligning close textual readings with the segregated histories and interracial artistic circles that informed these Cold War writers, this project defines desegregation as both a racial and sexual phenomenon, one both public and private. In analyzing more intimate spaces of desegregation shaped by regional, familial, and psychological upheavals after World War II, Tyler T. Schmidt argues that "queer" desire--understood as same-sex and interracial desire--redirected American writing and helped shape the Cold War era's integrationist 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.
Unskilled workers once flocked to Detroit, attracted by manufacturing jobs paying union wages, but the passing of Detroit's manufacturing heyday has left many of those workers stranded. Manufacturing continues to employ high-skilled workers, and new work can be found in suburban service jobs, but the urban plants that used to employ legions of unskilled men are a thing of the past. The authors explain why white auto workers adjusted to these new conditions more easily than blacks. Taking advantage of better access to education and suburban home loans, white men migrated into skilled jobs on the city's outskirts, while blacks faced the twin barriers of higher skill demands and hostile suburban neighborhoods. Some blacks have prospered despite this racial divide: a black elite has emerged, and the shift in the city toward municipal and service jobs has allowed black women to approach parity of earnings with white women. But Detroit remains polarized racially, economically, and geographically to a degree seen in few other American cities.
Challenges and Choices in the Twenty-first Century
Devolution and Black State Legislators examines whether black state legislators can produce qualitative gains in the substantive representation of black interests. Once a battle cry by southern conservatives, “new federalism” has shifted power from Washington to the respective state governments and, ironically, has done so as black state legislators grow in number. Tyson King-Meadows and Thomas F. Schaller look at the debates surrounding black political incorporation, the tradeoffs between substantive and descriptive representation, racial redistricting, and the impact of black legislators on state budgetary politics. They situate contemporary constraints on black state elites as the union of macro- and micro-level forces, which allows for a reconsideration of how the idiosyncrasies of political, economic, and geographic culture converge with the internal dynamics of state legislative processes to produce particular environments. Interviews with black legislators provide valuable insights into how such idiosyncrasies may deprive institutional advancement—committee assignments, chairmanships, and party leadership positions—of the influence it once afforded.