Walter White (1893-1955) was among the nation's preeminent champions of civil rights. With blond hair and blue eyes, he could "pass" as white even though he identified as African American, and his physical appearance allowed him to go undercover to invest
A portrait of the late executive secretary of the NAACP documents his efforts as a civil rights champion and his work to outlaw segregation and racism, noting how his physical appearance as an African-American with light-colored skin enabled him to work undercover to expose southern lynch mob activities.
The day Walter White was buried in 1955 the New York Times called him "the nearest approach to a national leader of American Negroes since Booker T. Washington." For more than two decades, White, as secretary of the NAACP, was perhaps the nation's most visible and most powerful African-American leader. He won passage of a federal anti-lynching law, hosted one of the premier salons of the Harlem Renaissance, created the legal strategy that led to Brown v. Board of Education, and initiated the campaign demanding that Hollywood give better roles to black actors. Driven by ambitions for himself and his people, he offered his entire life to the advancement of civil rights in America.
A story of tragedy and violence set in the early 20th century. When Kenneth Harper, a young black physician who has studied in the North, returns to his Georgia hometown to practice medicine, he discovers all too soon that the roots of intolerance are deeply embedded. "A stirring novel, beautifully and passionately written".--The Nation.
From the man known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance comes a powerful, provocative, and affecting anthology of writers who shaped the Harlem Renaissance movement and who help us to consider the evolution of the African American in society. With stunning works by seminal black voices such as Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, and W.E.B. DuBois, Locke has constructed a vivid look at the new negro, the changing African American finding his place in the ever shifting sociocultural landscape that was 1920s America. With poetry, prose, and nonfiction essays, this collection is widely praised for its literary strength as well as its historical coverage of a monumental and fascinating time in the history of America.
Published amid controversy in 1926, FLIGHT focuses on the dilemma of Mimi Daquin, a New Orleans creole who, for a time, passes as white. An unexpected pregnancy causes Mimi to abandon her prosperous family and move to Harlem. Racial attitudes of the times--by both whites and blacks--are compellingly portrayed by author Walter White (1893-1955), a blond-haired, blue-eyed black man and NAACP activist.
Violence, Injustice, and the Rise of Black Politics in the 1970s
Author: Kenneth Robert Janken
Publisher: UNC Press Books
In February 1971, racial tension surrounding school desegregation in Wilmington, North Carolina, culminated in four days of violence and skirmishes between white vigilantes and black residents. The turmoil resulted in two deaths, six injuries, more than $500,000 in damage, and the firebombing of a white-owned store, before the National Guard restored uneasy peace. Despite glaring irregularities in the subsequent trial, ten young persons were convicted of arson and conspiracy and then sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison. They became known internationally as the Wilmington Ten. A powerful movement arose within North Carolina and beyond to demand their freedom, and after several witnesses admitted to perjury, a federal appeals court, also citing prosecutorial misconduct, overturned the convictions in 1980. Kenneth Janken narrates the dramatic story of the Ten, connecting their story to a larger arc of Black Power and the transformation of post-Civil Rights era political organizing. Grounded in extensive interviews, newly declassified government documents, and archival research, this book thoroughly examines the 1971 events and the subsequent movement for justice that strongly influenced the wider African American freedom struggle.
Celebrating its one-hundredth anniversary in February 2009, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been the leading and best-known African American civil rights organization in the United States. It has played a major, and at times decisive, role in most of the important developments in the twentieth century civil rights struggle. Drawing on original and previously unpublished scholarship from leading researchers in the United States, Britain, and Europe, this important collection of sixteen original essays offers new and invaluable insights into the work and achievements of the association. The first part of the book offers challenging reappraisals of two of the NAACP’s best-known national spokespersons, Walter White and Roy Wilkins. Other essays analyze the association’s cultural initiatives and the key role played by its public-relations campaigns in the mid 1950s to counter segregationist propaganda and win over the hearts and minds of American public opinion in the wake of the NAACP’s landmark legal victory in Brown v. Board of Education. Others provide thought-provoking accounts of the association’s complex and difficult relationship with Martin Luther King, the post–World War II Civil Rights movement, and Black Power radicals of the 1960s. The second part of the collection focuses on the work of the NAACP at state, city, and local levels, examining its grassroots organization throughout the nation from Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit in the North, to California in the West, as well as states across the South including Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. Providing detailed and fascinating information on hitherto little explored aspects of the association’s work, these studies complement the previous essays by demonstrating the impact national initiatives had on local activists and analyzing the often-strained relations between the NAACP national office in New York and its regional branches.
A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age
Author: Kevin Boyle
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
An electrifying story of the sensational murder trial that divided a city and ignited the civil rights struggle In 1925, Detroit was a smoky swirl of jazz and speakeasies, assembly lines and fistfights. The advent of automobiles had brought workers from around the globe to compete for manufacturing jobs, and tensions often flared with the KKK in ascendance and violence rising. Ossian Sweet, a proud Negro doctor-grandson of a slave-had made the long climb from the ghetto to a home of his own in a previously all-white neighborhood. Yet just after his arrival, a mob gathered outside his house; suddenly, shots rang out: Sweet, or one of his defenders, had accidentally killed one of the whites threatening their lives and homes. And so it began-a chain of events that brought America's greatest attorney, Clarence Darrow, into the fray and transformed Sweet into a controversial symbol of equality. Historian Kevin Boyle weaves the police investigation and courtroom drama of Sweet's murder trial into an unforgettable tapestry of narrative history that documents the volatile America of the 1920s and movingly re-creates the Sweet family's journey from slavery through the Great Migration to the middle class. Ossian Sweet's story, so richly and poignantly captured here, is an epic tale of one man trapped by the battles of his era's changing times. Arc of Justice is the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
Between 1880 and 1930, close to 200 women were murdered by lynch mobs in the American South. Many more were tarred and feathered, burned, whipped, or raped. In this brutal world of white supremacist politics and patriarchy, a world violently divided by race, gender, and class, black and white women defended themselves and challenged the male power brokers. Crystal Feimster breaks new ground in her story of the racial politics of the postbellum South by focusing on the volatile issue of sexual violence. Pairing the lives of two Southern womenâe"Ida B. Wells, who fearlessly branded lynching a white tool of political terror against southern blacks, and Rebecca Latimer Felton, who urged white men to prove their manhood by lynching black men accused of raping white womenâe"Feimster makes visible the ways in which black and white women sought protection and political power in the New South. While Wells was black and Felton was white, both were journalists, temperance women, suffragists, and anti-rape activists. By placing their concerns at the center of southern politics, Feimster illuminates a critical and novel aspect of southern racial and sexual dynamics. Despite being on opposite sides of the lynching question, both Wells and Felton sought protection from sexual violence and political empowerment for women. Southern Horrors provides a startling view into the Jim Crow South where the precarious and subordinate position of women linked black and white anti-rape activists together in fragile political alliances. It is a story that reveals how the complex drama of political power, race, and sex played out in the lives of Southern women.
Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States
Author: Gerald Horne
Publisher: NYU Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
What does it mean that Lawrence Dennis—arguably the “brains” behind U.S. fascism—was born black but spent his entire adult life passing for white? Born in Atlanta in 1893, Dennis began life as a highly touted African American child preacher, touring nationally and arousing audiences with his dark-skinned mother as his escort. However, at some point between leaving prep school and entering Harvard University, he chose to abandon his family and his former life as an African American in order to pass for white. Dennis went on to work for the State Department and on Wall Street, and ultimately became the public face of U.S. fascism, meeting with Mussolini and other fascist leaders in Europe. He underwent trial for sedition during World War II, almost landing in prison, and ultimately became a Cold War critic before dying in obscurity in 1977. Based on extensive archival research, The Color of Fascism blends biography, social history, and critical race theory to illuminate the fascinating life of this complex and enigmatic man. Gerald Horne links passing and fascism, the two main poles of Dennis's life, suggesting that Dennis’s anger with the U.S. as a result of his upbringing in Jim Crow Georgia led him to alliances with the antagonists of the U.S. and that his personal isolation which resulted in his decision to pass dovetailed with his ultimate isolationism. Dennis’s life is a lasting testament to the resilience of right-wing thought in the U.S. The first full-scale biographical portrait of this intriguing figure, The Color of Fascism also links the strange career of a prominent American who chose to pass.
Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
Author: Gilbert King
Publisher: Harper Collins
Devil in the Grove, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, is a gripping true story of racism, murder, rape, and the law. It brings to light one of the most dramatic court cases in American history, and offers a rare and revealing portrait of Thurgood Marshall that the world has never seen before. As Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns did for the story of America’s black migration, Gilbert King’s Devil in the Grove does for this great untold story of American legal history, a dangerous and uncertain case from the days immediately before Brown v. Board of Education in which the young civil rights attorney Marshall risked his life to defend a boy slated for the electric chair—saving him, against all odds, from being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit.
Segregation and Anti-communism in the South, 1948-1968
Author: Jeff Woods
Publisher: LSU Press
Concentrating on the phenomenon at its most intense period, Woods makes vivid the fearful synergy that developed between racist forces and the anti-Communist cause, reveals the often illegal means used to wash the movement red, and documents the gross waste of public funds in pursuing an almost nonexistent threat. Though ultimately unsuccessful in convincing Americans outside of Dixie that the civil rights protests were controlled by Moscow, the southern red scare forced movement activists to distance themselves from the Marxist elements in their midst - thereby gaining the sympathy of the American people while losing the support of some of their most passionate antiracist campaigners.
How Textbooks from Around the World Portray U.S. History
Author: Dana Lindaman,Kyle Ward
Publisher: The New Press
History Lessons offers a lighthearted and fascinating challenge to the biases we bring to our understanding of American history. The subject of widespread attention when it was first published in 2004—including a full front-page review in the Washington Post Book World and features on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and the History Channel—this book gives us a glimpse into classrooms across the globe, where opinions about the United States are first formed. Heralded as “timely and important” (History News Network) and “shocking and fascinating” (New York Times), History Lessons includes selections from Russia, France, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Canada, and others, covering such events as the American Revolution, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iran hostage crisis, and the Korean War, providing an alternative history of the United States from the Viking explorers to the post–Cold War era. By juxtaposing starkly contrasting versions of the historical events we take for granted, History Lessons affords us a sometimes hilarious, often sobering look at what the world learns about America’s past.
In 1926, Walter White, then assistant secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, broke the story of an especially horrific triple lynching in Aiken, South Carolina. Aiken was White's forty-first lynching investigation in eight years. He returned to New York drained by the experience. The following year he took a leave of absence from the NAACP and, with help from a Guggenheim grant, spent a year in France writing Rope and Faggot. Ironically subtitled "A Biography of Judge Lynch," Rope and Faggot is a compelling example of partisan scholarship and is based on White's first-hand investigations. It was published in 1929. The book met two important goals for White: it debunked the "big lie" that lynching punished black men for raping white women and protected the purity of "the flower of the white race," and it provided White with an opportunity to deliver a penetrating critique of the southern culture that nourished this form of blood sport. White marshaled statistics demonstrating that accusations of rape or attempted rape accounted for less than 30 percent of the lynchings. Presenting evidence of white females of all classes crossing the color line for love—evidence that white supremacists themselves used to agitate whites to support anti-miscegenation laws—White insisted that most interracial unions were consentual and not forced. Despite the emphasis on sexual issues in instances of lynching, White also argued that the fury and sadism with which mobs attacked victims had more to do with keeping blacks in their place and with controlling the black labor force. Some of the strongest sections of the book deal with White's analysis of the economic and cultural foundations of lynching. Walter White's powerful study of a shameful practice in modern American history is back in print with a new introduction by Kenneth R. Janken.
Margaret Archuleta,Rennard Strickland,Heard Museum
Here upper-class elites discuss art in well-appointed drawing rooms; rowdy and lascivious drunks spend long nights in jazz clubs and speakeasies; and politically conscious young intellectuals drink coffee and debate "the race problem" in walkup apartments. At the center of the story, two young people - a quiet, serious librarian and a volatile aspiring writer - struggle to love each other as their dreams are slowly suffocated by racism.