The Original Black Elite

Author: Elizabeth Dowling Taylor
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780062346117
Release Date: 2017-01-31
Genre: Social Science

In this outstanding cultural biography, the author of the New York Times bestseller A Slave in the White House chronicles a critical yet overlooked chapter in American history: the inspiring rise and calculated fall of the black elite, from Emancipation through Reconstruction to the Jim Crow Era—embodied in the experiences of an influential figure of the time, academic, entrepreneur, and political activist and black history pioneer Daniel Murray. In the wake of the Civil War, Daniel Murray, born free and educated in Baltimore, was in the vanguard of Washington, D.C.’s black upper class. Appointed Assistant Librarian at the Library of Congress—at a time when government appointments were the most prestigious positions available for blacks—Murray became wealthy through his business as a construction contractor and married a college-educated socialite. The Murrays’ social circles included some of the first African-American U.S. Senators and Congressmen, and their children went to the best colleges—Harvard and Cornell. Though Murray and other black elite of his time were primed to assimilate into the cultural fabric as Americans first and people of color second, their prospects were crushed by Jim Crow segregation and the capitulation to white supremacist groups by the government, which turned a blind eye to their unlawful—often murderous—acts. Elizabeth Dowling Taylor traces the rise, fall, and disillusionment of upper-class African Americans, revealing that they were a representation not of hypothetical achievement but what could be realized by African Americans through education and equal opportunities. As she makes clear, these well-educated and wealthy elite were living proof that African Americans did not lack ability to fully participate in the social contract as white supremacists claimed, making their subsequent fall when Reconstruction was prematurely abandoned all the more tragic. Illuminating and powerful, her magnificent work brings to life a dark chapter of American history that too many Americans have yet to recognize.

Birthright Citizens

Author: Martha S. Jones
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781107150348
Release Date: 2018-06-28
Genre: History

Explains the origins of the Fourteenth Amendment's birthright citizenship provision, as a story of black Americans' pre-Civil War claims to belonging.

A Nation Apart

Author: Arnold Birenbaum
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9780429835186
Release Date: 2019-01-21
Genre: Social Science

This book examines the ongoing struggle for social justice by and for African Americans. Examining the persistent rolling back of civil and voting rights for this population and other minorities since the end of Reconstruction, the author discusses the continued colonization of African Americans and the rise of white nationalism before considering what can be done to create a democratic version of Americanism. With discussions on the possibilities that exist for eliminating health disparities, increasing income and reducing wealth inequality, enhancing the urban environment and housing stability, reforming criminal justice, and reconsidering the case for reparations for the descendants of slaves, the author considers whether white nationalism is a threat to Democratic Americanism and if the declining fortunes of working class Americans can be reversed by means of a "Marshall Plan" for the United States. A study of the sustained racial injustices of American society over the last century and a half and their possible remedies, A Nation Apart will appeal to all those with interests in race and ethnicity and questions of social justice.

Inventing Victoria

Author: Tonya Bolden
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
ISBN: 9781681198088
Release Date: 2019-01-08
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

In a searing historical novel, Tonya Bolden illuminates post-Reconstruction America in an intimate portrait of a determined young woman who dares to seize the opportunity of a lifetime. As a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Essie's dreams are very much at odds with her reality. Ashamed of her beginnings, but unwilling to accept the path currently available to her, Essie is trapped between the life she has and the life she wants. Until she meets a lady named Dorcas Vashon, the richest and most cultured black woman she's ever encountered. When Dorcas makes Essie an offer she can't refuse, she becomes Victoria. Transformed by a fine wardrobe, a classic education, and the rules of etiquette, Victoria is soon welcomed in the upper echelons of black society in Washington, D. C. But when the life she desires is finally within her grasp, Victoria must decide how much of herself she is truly willing to surrender.

Jim Crow Capital

Author: Mary-Elizabeth B. Murphy
Publisher: UNC Press Books
ISBN: 9781469646732
Release Date: 2018-09-28
Genre: History

Local policy in the nation's capital has always influenced national politics. During Reconstruction, black Washingtonians were first to exercise their new franchise. But when congressmen abolished local governance in the 1870s, they set the precedent for southern disfranchisement. In the aftermath of this process, memories of voting and citizenship rights inspired a new generation of Washingtonians to restore local government in their city and lay the foundation for black equality across the nation. And women were at the forefront of this effort. Here Mary-Elizabeth B. Murphy tells the story of how African American women in D.C. transformed civil rights politics in their freedom struggles between 1920 and 1945. Even though no resident of the nation's capital could vote, black women seized on their conspicuous location to testify in Congress, lobby politicians, and stage protests to secure racial justice, both in Washington and across the nation. Women crafted a broad vision of citizenship rights that put economic justice, physical safety, and legal equality at the forefront of their political campaigns. Black women's civil rights tactics and victories in Washington, D.C., shaped the national postwar black freedom struggle in ways that still resonate today.