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Other titles in the Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies series:
Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote (Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies)by Gordon A Martin
Synopses & Reviews
Appalachian legend describes a mysterious, multiethnic population of exotic, dark-skinned rogues called Melungeons who rejected the outside world and lived in the remote, rugged mountains in the farthest corner of northeast Tennessee. The allegedly unknown origins of these Melungeons are part of what drove this legend and generated myriad exotic origin theories. Though nobody self-identified as Melungeon before the 1960s, by the 1990s and#8220;Melungeonnessand#8221; had become a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, resulting in a zealous online community and annual meetings where self-identified Melungeons gathered to discuss shared genealogy and history. Although today Melungeons are commonly identified as the descendants of underclass whites, freed African Americans, and Native Americans, this ethnic identity is still largely a social construction based on local tradition, myth, and media.
In Becoming Melungeon, Melissa Schrift examines the ways in which the Melungeon ethnic identity has been socially constructed over time by various regional and national media, plays, and other forms of popular culture. Schrift explores how the social construction of this legend evolved into a fervent movement of a self-identified ethnicity in the 1990s. This illuminating and insightful work examines the shifting social constructions of race, ethnicity, and identity both in the local context of the Melungeons and more broadly in an attempt to understand the formation of ethnic groups and identity in the modern world.
Forrest County, Mississippi, became a focal point of the civil rights movement when, in 1961, the United States Justice Department filed a lawsuit against its voting registrar Theron Lynd. While thirty percent of the county's residents were black, only twelve black persons were on its voting rolls. United States v. Lynd was the first trial that resulted in the conviction of a southern registrar for contempt of court. The case served as a model for other challenges to voter discrimination in the South, and was an important influence in shaping the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Count Them One by One is a comprehensive account of the groundbreaking case written by one of the Justice Department's trial attorneys. Gordon A. Martin, Jr., then a newly-minted lawyer, traveled to Hattiesburg from Washington to help shape the federal case against Lynd. He met with and prepared the government's sixteen black witnesses who had been refused registration, found white witnesses, and was one of the lawyers during the trial.
Decades later, Martin returned to Mississippi and interviewed the still-living witnesses, their children, and friends. Martin intertwines these current reflections with commentary about the case itself. The result is an impassioned, cogent fusion of reportage, oral history, and memoir about a trial that fundamentally reshaped liberty and the South.
The personal account of a community and a lawyer united to battle one of the most recalcitrant bastions of resistance to civil rights
About the Author
Gordon A. Martin, Jr., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, is a retired trial judge, and an adjunct professor of law at New England Law School (Boston). His work has been published in the New England Law Review, Commonweal, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, the Boston Globe, the New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement, and other periodicals.
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History and Social Science » African American Studies » Civil Rights Movement