Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White

Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White

by William Sturkey

Hardcover

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Overview

A rich, multigenerational saga of race and family in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, that tells the story of how Jim Crow was built, how it changed, and how the most powerful social movement in American history came together to tear it down.

If you really want to understand Jim Crow—what it was and how African Americans rose up to defeat it—you should start by visiting Mobile Street in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the heart of the historic black downtown. There you can see remnants of the shops and churches where, amid the violence and humiliation of segregation, men and women gathered to build a remarkable community. William Sturkey introduces us to both old-timers and newcomers who arrived in search of economic opportunities promised by the railroads, sawmills, and factories of the New South. He also takes us across town and inside the homes of white Hattiesburgers to show how their lives were shaped by the changing fortunes of the Jim Crow South.

Sturkey reveals the stories behind those who struggled to uphold their southern “way of life” and those who fought to tear it down—from William Faulkner’s great-grandfather, a Confederate veteran who was the inspiration for the enigmatic character John Sartoris, to black leader Vernon Dahmer, whose killers were the first white men ever convicted of murdering a civil rights activist in Mississippi. Through it all, Hattiesburg traces the story of the Smith family across multiple generations, from Turner and Mamie Smith, who fled a life of sharecropping to find opportunity in town, to Hammond and Charles Smith, in whose family pharmacy Medgar Evers and his colleagues planned their strategy to give blacks the vote.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674976351
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/28/2019
Pages: 456
Sales rank: 113,385
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

William Sturkey is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he teaches courses on African American history and the history of the American South. His first book, To Write in the Light of Freedom, coedited with Jon Hale, brought together the newspapers, essays, and poems produced by young black students of the Freedom Schools during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964.

Table of Contents

Introduction: People of Spirit 1

1 Visionaries 10

2 The Bottom Rail 37

3 The Noble Spirit 57

4 A Little Colony of Mississippians 79

5 Broken Promises 102

6 Those Who Stayed 125

7 Reliance 146

8 Community Children 167

9 Salvation 190

10 A Rising 211

11 Crying in the Wilderness 234

12 When the Movement Came 264

Conclusion: Changes 295

Archival Abbreviations 311

Notes 313

Acknowledgments 425

Index 429

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