In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • The New Career of Jim Crow
  • Stephen Robinson (bio)
Stephanie Cole and Natalie J. Ring, eds. The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012. xi + 216 pp. Notes and index. $30.00.
Robert Cassanello. To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013. xv + 188 pp. Notes, bibliography, and index. $74.95 (cloth); $18.95 (paper).
Stephen A. Berrey. The Jim Crow Routine: Everyday Performances of Race, Civil Rights, and Segregation in Mississippi. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015. xiii + 331 pp. Notes, bibliography, and index. $29.95 (paper); $28.99 (e-book).
Audrey Thomas McCluskey. A Forgotten Sisterhood: Pioneering Black Women Educators and Activists in the Jim Crow South. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. x +181 pp. Notes, chronology, bibliography, and index. $40.00 (cloth); $39.99 (e-book).
William E. O’Brien. Landscapes of Exclusion: State Parks and Jim Crow in the American South. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2016. xv + 191 pp. Notes and index. $39.95.
Ruth Thompson-Miller, Joe R. Feagin and Leslie H. Picca. Jim Crow’s Legacy: The Lasting Impact of Segregation. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. xvi + 262 pp. Notes and index. $85.00 (cloth); $28.00 (paper); $27.99 (e-book).

The scholarship on the Jim Crow South has had a long career. Dating back to C. Vann Woodward’s path breaking book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955), historians have sought to understand when and why de jure segregation was rolled out across the South. Woodward argued that it was the loss of restraining forces by the 1890s—Southern liberalism, radicalism, and Northern intervention—that enabled white Southern lawmakers to find a new way of enforcing strict racial hierarchies. The flexibility and experimentation in race [End Page 457] relations evident in the 1880s gave way to a more rigid system in the 1890s. Path breaking though this book was, it did not take into account earlier forms of segregation, nor did it contain any serious analysis of African Americans’ agency—a lacuna that was filled in part by Howard Rabinowitz’s insightful Race Relations in the Urban South (1978). Over the last fifteen years or so, scholars have sought to extend the contours of the debate. The essays collected in Jumpin’ Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights (2000), edited by Jane Dailey, Glenda Gilmore, and Bryant Simon, fundamentally reshaped our approach to the Jim Crow South. Rather than interpreting this period from the 1870s to the 1970s through a white lens—and thereby implying that the maintenance of white supremacy was the fixed component—these scholars instead argued that it was black resistance to Jim Crow that was continuous. It was white resistance to black political activism (and, later, to desegregation) that was in a constant state of flux.

The books under review in this essay build on the work of Dailey et al. Each explores the fruitful scholarly path of black resistance, and a white counter-resistance that was ever changing. Jim Crow, it seems, had many careers, and was forced to change as a result of the persistence of African Americans’ resistance to it. The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South, edited by Stephanie Cole and Natalie J. Ring, is a collection of essays that emerged from a 2010 conference on the segregation era. This collection reveals that Jim Crow from the very beginning was not a fixed entity. As a result, the contributors argue that the old debate over timing is ultimately a folly. Indeed, the essays in The Folly of Jim Crow expand on this essential point. A particular strength of this work—and one that informs to some extent the scholarship that follows—is that it takes the long perspective on Jim Crow. As with scholarship on the modern Civil Rights Movement or, more recently, the Reconstruction era, the chapters in this collection do not simply focus on the early years of Jim Crow, or the period of legal desegregation. Instead, they reframe the story: back into Reconstruction and forward into the post–1960s era. As a result...