Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race

Univ of North Carolina Press
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In the segregated South of the early twentieth century, unwritten rules guided every aspect of individual behavior, from how blacks and whites stood, sat, ate, drank, walked, and talked to whether they made eye contact with one another. Jennifer Ritterhouse asks how children learned this racial "etiquette," which was sustained by coercion and the threat of violence. More broadly, she asks how individuals developed racial self-consciousness.

Parental instruction was an important factor--both white parents' reinforcement of a white supremacist worldview and black parents' oppositional lessons in respectability and race pride. Children also learned much from their interactions across race lines. The fact that black youths were often eager to stand up for themselves, despite the risks, suggests that the emotional underpinnings of the civil rights movement were in place long before the historical moment when change became possible. Meanwhile, a younger generation of whites continued to enforce traditional patterns of domination and deference in private, while also creating an increasingly elaborate system of segregation in public settings. Exploring relationships between public and private and between segregation, racial etiquette, and racial violence, Growing Up Jim Crow sheds new light on tradition and change in the South and the meanings of segregation within southern culture.

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About the author

Jennifer Ritterhouse is associate professor of history at George Mason University. She is editor of Sarah Patton Boyle's The Desegregated Heart: A Virginian's Stand in Time of Transition and coeditor of the award-winning Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Univ of North Carolina Press
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Published on
Dec 13, 2006
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780807877234
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)
Social Science / Children's Studies
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
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This content is DRM protected.
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During the Great Depression, the American South was not merely "the nation's number one economic problem," as President Franklin Roosevelt declared. It was also a battlefield on which forces for and against social change were starting to form. For a white southern liberal like Jonathan Daniels, editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, it was a fascinating moment to explore. Attuned to culture as well as politics, Daniels knew the true South lay somewhere between Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. On May 5, 1937, he set out to find it, driving thousands of miles in his trusty Plymouth and ultimately interviewing even Mitchell herself.

In Discovering the South historian Jennifer Ritterhouse pieces together Daniels's unpublished notes from his tour along with his published writings and a wealth of archival evidence to put this one man's journey through a South in transition into a larger context. Daniels's well chosen itinerary brought him face to face with the full range of political and cultural possibilities in the South of the 1930s, from New Deal liberalism and social planning in the Tennessee Valley Authority, to Communist agitation in the Scottsboro case, to planters' and industrialists' reactionary worldview and repressive violence. The result is a lively narrative of black and white southerners fighting for and against democratic social change at the start of the nation's long civil rights era.

For more information on this book, see www.discoveringthesouth.org.

During the Great Depression, the American South was not merely "the nation's number one economic problem," as President Franklin Roosevelt declared. It was also a battlefield on which forces for and against social change were starting to form. For a white southern liberal like Jonathan Daniels, editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, it was a fascinating moment to explore. Attuned to culture as well as politics, Daniels knew the true South lay somewhere between Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. On May 5, 1937, he set out to find it, driving thousands of miles in his trusty Plymouth and ultimately interviewing even Mitchell herself.

In Discovering the South historian Jennifer Ritterhouse pieces together Daniels's unpublished notes from his tour along with his published writings and a wealth of archival evidence to put this one man's journey through a South in transition into a larger context. Daniels's well chosen itinerary brought him face to face with the full range of political and cultural possibilities in the South of the 1930s, from New Deal liberalism and social planning in the Tennessee Valley Authority, to Communist agitation in the Scottsboro case, to planters' and industrialists' reactionary worldview and repressive violence. The result is a lively narrative of black and white southerners fighting for and against democratic social change at the start of the nation's long civil rights era.

For more information on this book, see www.discoveringthesouth.org.

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