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The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed Americaby James N. Gregory
Synopses & Reviews
"An engagingly written and conceptually original study that significantly enhances our understanding of how southern migration redefined the United States. Gregory makes great use of the life stories of individuals, both ordinary and famous to illustrate the broader transformations he describes. . . . An enormously informative study of value to all students of modern America."
— Journal of American Ethnic History "Gregory sets a new standard. . . . His work will serve as a model as future scholars extend his insights."
— Canadian Journal of History "Gregory's endeavor raises some intriguing points. . . . [Gregory's] book is a much-needed and fresh look into the discourse of American migration studies."-- Alabama Review "Outstanding. . . . On the leading edge of a growing interdisciplinary literature . . . a must-read for all scholars and students."
— Journal of Regional Science "Fascinating."-- Seattle Times "Likely to become a standard title in the bibliography of important works on twentieth century American history."
— Arkansas Libraries "This well-researched and documented work will now be required reading for historians and sociologists interested in the impact of internal migration on American society. . . . This is solid scholarship that integrates a significant amount of secondary sources while introducing the reader to an array of original work. It will remain pertinent for years to come, and should spawn additional research."
— Journal of Social History
"Numerous books deal with the migration of blacks to the North after the Civil War, and others treat the movement of white Southerners in the same direction or to the West, notably California. Gregory, a professor of history at the University of Washington, insists on looking at the great dispersal as two sides of the same coin, however great the obvious differences between them. This unfamiliar juxtaposition makes for compelling reading as the focus shifts back and forth, from white to black. Charts demonstrate the sheer magnitude of this great internal migration, which was every bit as enormous as those better-documented emigrations from Europe. Though the statistics alone are overwhelming, it is the cultural impact that fascinates. This the author traces by looking closely at staples of popular culture as diverse as The Grapes of Wrath, Amos ’n’ Andy, and The Beverly Hillbillies, and at entertainers such as Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and Merle Haggard. The South's impact on American religion, politics, and culture has been profound. Harlem and the Okies alike have Southern roots. Whether as the 'problem child of the nation' during the Civil Rights Movement or the spiritual home of much that makes up twentieth-century American culture, the South has long been at or near the very center of the nation's experience ever since Appomattox. Gregory's book deserves an enthusiastic reading." Reviewed by Lou Tanner, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
Twenty million southerners moved north and west between 1900 and the 1970s. Weaving together for the first time the histories of black and white migrants, Gregory traces their paths and experiences in a groundbreaking study that demonstrates how this regional diaspora reshaped America by "southernizing" communities and transforming important cultural institutions such as music, religion, and politics.
Between 1900 and the 1970s, twenty million southerners migrated north and west. Weaving together for the first time the histories of these black and white migrants, James Gregory traces their paths and experiences in a comprehensive new study that demonstrates how this regional diaspora reshaped America by "southernizing" communities and transforming important cultural and political institutions.
Challenging the image of the migrants as helpless and poor, Gregory shows how both black and white southerners used their new surroundings to become agents of change. Combining personal stories with cultural, political, and demographic analysis, he argues that the migrants helped create both the modern civil rights movement and modern conservatism. They spurred changes in American religion, notably modern evangelical Protestantism, and in popular culture, including the development of blues, jazz, and country music.
In a sweeping account that pioneers new understandings of the impact of mass migrations, Gregory recasts the history of twentieth-century America. He demonstrates that the southern diaspora was crucial to transformations in the relationship between American regions, in the politics of race and class, and in the roles of religion, the media, and culture.
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