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American nightmare : the history of Jim Crow
Packard, Jerrold M.
Adult Nonfiction E185.61 .P19 2002

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From Publishers' Weekly:

This is a clear, concise, historical narrative of a draconian reality: how U.S. legal statutes were partially generated by, and in turn bolstered, racist social conditions and entrenched customs. Writing simply and with passion, Packard (Victoria's Daughters) begins with the surprising fact that African-Americans, as well as whites, were first brought to America as indentured servants. But by 1670, laws were in place that consigned African-Americans to slavery. While not offering any new or startling analysis, the strength of the book is its accumulation of detail. Packard's background on Homer Plessy, whose case generated the Supreme Court's 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision legally codifying "separate but equal," is moving. Teddy Roosevelt's landmark White House dinner with Booker T. Washington is shown to have been a casual invitation, not a planned political move. A 1969 study showed that less than 1% of African-Americans worshiped with their white counterparts. One of the nine high school students needing the assistance of Federal troops in 1957 to attend the newly integrated school in Little Rock, Ark., was later expelled for responding to racist taunts. Packard carefully places these facts in a firm historical context. Even when the material is familiar, he weaves it into a sturdy and often shocking American tapestry. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Packard, whose recent works have included books on the British royalty (Victoria's Daughters) and World War II (Neither Friend Nor Foe), here chronicles the history of Jim Crow from its biblical origins in the story of Ham to the heroic efforts of civil rights activists in the 1960s. The book details how Jim Crow laws pervaded all aspects of Southern social life including schools, churches, restaurants, libraries, and even cemeteries (a 1900 Mississippi law allowed black corpses to be dug up from "white" cemeteries). The book also focuses on Jim Crow's being almost as widespread in the North, especially as African Americans moved northward for better-paying jobs during the early to mid-20th century when European immigration dwindled. The book is essentially a summation of important people, events, and court cases that led to the end of legalized Jim Crow. Packard's casual style reads easily, but the book suffers from its use of mostly secondary sources. Recommended for libraries seeking a readable overview of the Jim Crow era. [Readers interested in primary-source material on the Jim Crow era should refer to Remembering Jim Crow, LJ 10/1/01.] Robert K. Flatley, Frostburg State Univ., MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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