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Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America
     

Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America

5.0 2
by Elliot Jaspin
 

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“Leave now, or die!” Those words-or ones just as ominous-have echoed through the past hundred years of American history, heralding a very unnatural disaster-a wave of racial cleansing that wiped out or drove away black populations from counties across the nation. While we have long known about horrific episodes of lynching in the South, this

Overview


“Leave now, or die!” Those words-or ones just as ominous-have echoed through the past hundred years of American history, heralding a very unnatural disaster-a wave of racial cleansing that wiped out or drove away black populations from counties across the nation. While we have long known about horrific episodes of lynching in the South, this story of racial cleansing has remained almost entirely unknown. These expulsions, always swift and often violent, were extraordinarily widespread in the period between Reconstruction and the Depression era. In the heart of the Midwest and the Deep South, whites rose up in rage, fear, and resentment to lash out at local blacks. They burned and killed indiscriminately, sweeping entire counties clear of blacks to make them racially “pure.” Many of these counties remain virtually all-white to this day. In Buried in the Bitter Waters, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elliot Jaspin exposes a deeply shameful chapter in the nation's history-and one that continues to shape the geography of race in America.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

The term cleansingused in relation to groups of people has come to convey an ugly reality Americans usually associate with distant places. Here, however, Pulitzer Prize-winning Cox Newspapers editor Jaspin dredges up the ugly reality of white Americans, from the late 1860s through the 1930s,"cleansing" their living and working spaces to make them white-only enclaves. Using census data, Jaspin reveals a whiting-out pattern in about one in 12 of the 3100 U.S. counties. Beyond statistics, he re-creates the stories of rural towns, villages, and whole counties emptying themselves of blacks. He shows vigilantes at work, but more than mobs made this unsavory history. In everyday community activities, whites worked to drive blacks out, and keep them out, of their American dream. Jaspin gives context to accounts of whites destroying single black communities, such as Alfred L. Brophy's excellent Reconstructing the Dreamland, about the 1921 Greenwood district of Tulsa, OK, or the various treatments of Rosewood, FL, in 1922. Critics will quibble about whites' motives, but Jaspin's facts are dauntingly indisputable. Essential for collections on modern America, local history, and U.S. race relations.
—Thomas J. Davis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465036370
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
05/05/2008
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
751,837
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.87(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


Elliot Jaspin is a reporter for Cox Newspapers, where he specializes in computer-assisted reporting. He won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting in 1979, and in 1993 he was awarded the Kiplinger Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Award by the National Press Foundation. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible book - not just because of the intensive research or the personal stories, but because this all happened here in the US. It's a potent reminder that this country has a long way to go.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Regrettably, there is a great deal in our country's history of which we are now ashamed. Surely the years between 1874 and the 1920s in America saw some of the most deplorable events. During that period of time racial cleansing took place over a wide geographical area. This was cruel, senseless and more to our disgrace these actions were condoned at the time and glossed over today. Author Jaspin is twice a Pulitzer Prize winner, and is a reporter for Cox Newspapers. Years of prodigious research were poured into his book which presents clear evidence of what took place. Yet we hear of what was an apparent whitewash by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 'Editors ignored clear conflicts of interest while editing the racial cleansing series. Procedures designed to protect the integrity of the reporting process were dispensed with. And finally the head of the company's newspaper division overrode the judgment of editors in Austin and Washington and ordered that a different term be substituted for 'racial cleansings.' It is a cautionary tale about the lingering shame that trumps honest discussion of the full history of America's racial cleansings.' How sad that racial cleansing did occur - sadder yet that some will not acknowledge our misdeeds. The apt title for Jaspin's book comes from the pen of Zora Neale Hurston: 'Ah done died in grief and been buried in de bitter waters, and Ah done rose agin from de dead lak Lazarus. ' For those who heard 'Leave now, or die!' their lives were overturned in mere hours as they fled carrying what possessions they could. Those were the lucky ones - countless others were killed, their homes burned as blacks were driven from entire counties. Thus, even today some of these areas are still 'lily-white.' According to the courts blacks were not considered citizens. Thus, it was quite literally leave or die. Jaspin bases his information on countless interviews, census records, and archives. It is a tragic story but a true one. Actor Don Leslie offers an accomplished reading of Buried in the Bitter Waters, clearly stating facts and movingly relating the words of those interviewed. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke