RACE RELATIONS IN THE URBAN SOUTH 1865-1890 by Howard N. Rabinowitz


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The postbellum South has predominantly been studied in terms of its rural majority. Based on a doctoral dissertation, this is a highly detailed, nicely polished study of a diverse group of cities--Atlanta, Montgomery, Raleigh, Nashville, and Richmond--where the influx of unskilled freedmen was met by a ""transition from exclusion to segregation"" with scant interracial mixing in between. As black freedmen poured in, Rabinowitz finds, not only did local whites attempt to ""keep them in their place,"" but Northern Republicans found themselves more or less willingly promoting de facto segregation. Not only were segregated schools, transportation, and health facilities introduced, there was not even a pretense of ""separate but equal"" in the housing sphere, and the black communities that emerged showed a dramatically higher death rate. On the political level, Negro clergymen assumed a leading role; but, while competing for black support, white Republicans and Democrats achieved ""a severe weakening of black political influence and power"" through fraud, manipulation, and threats ""almost two decades before the enactment of widespread disenfranchisement legislation."" Reinforcing this powerlessness was propaganda from the white press on the ""mass of laziness"" in black neighborhoods; blacks turned to ""rabid boosterism"" in newspapers that seldom dared protest segregation and to a religious revivalism deplored by the Negro middle class. A thorough exploration for specialists who already possess a map of the larger Reconstruction policy debates, and a stout contribution to regional studies.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press