Synopses & Reviews
In this sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Been in the Storm So Long, Leon F. Litwack constructs a searing, unforgettable account of life in the Jim Crow South. Drawing on a vast array of contemporary documents and first-person narratives from both blacks and whites, he examines how black men and women learned to live with the severe restrictions imposed on their lives during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Emancipation had been a time of unparalleled hope, laden with possibility, but the great changes black Southerners envisioned proved to be illusory. Litwack relates how black schools and colleges struggled to fulfill the expectations placed on them in a climate that was separate but hardly equal; how hardworking tenant farmers were cheated of their earnings, turned off their land, or refused acreage they could afford to purchase; how successful and ambitious blacks often became targets of white vio-lence and harassment. Faced with evidence of black independence and assertiveness, the white South responded with a policy of oppression and subjugation that systematically "disrecognized" black people.
By maintaining rigid patterns of racial segregation, manipulating the judicial system, and enforcing ignorance among blacks, the white South sustained unprecedented levels of violence, brutality, and intimidation. Yet despite being faced with these overwhelming odds, many blacks found ways to resist and circumvent the system. Litwack shows how blacks not only coped with crushing poverty and misery, but also found refuge in their own institutions and managed to preserve their humanity and dignity through religion, work, music, and (frequently subversive) humor.
Presented before, but never in such a thorough, wrenching manner, the history of this deeply scarred period is essential to any understanding of the state of race relations in America today.
About the Author
Leon F. Litwack is the author of Been in the Storm So Long, which won the Pulitzer Prize in History and the Parkman Prize. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Distinguished Teaching Awards, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Film Grant, and is the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of American History at the University of California, Berkeley.