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

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Overview

Leave now, or die! From the heart of the Midwest to the Deep South, from the mountains of North Carolina to the Texas frontier, words like these have echoed through more than a century of American history. The call heralded not a tornado or a hurricane, but a very unnatural disaster—a manmade wave of racial cleansing that purged black populations from counties across the nation. We have long known about horrific episodes of lynching in the South, but the story of widespread racial cleansingabove and below the ...

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Overview

Leave now, or die! From the heart of the Midwest to the Deep South, from the mountains of North Carolina to the Texas frontier, words like these have echoed through more than a century of American history. The call heralded not a tornado or a hurricane, but a very unnatural disaster—a manmade wave of racial cleansing that purged black populations from counties across the nation. We have long known about horrific episodes of lynching in the South, but the story of widespread racial cleansingabove and below the Mason-Dixon line—has remained almost entirely unknown. Time after time, in the period between Reconstruction and the 1920s, whites banded together to drive out the blacks in their midst. They burned and killed indiscriminately and drove thousands from their homes, sweeping entire counties clear of blacks to make them racially "pure." The expulsions were swift-in many cases, it took no more than twenty-four hours to eliminate an entire African-American population. Shockingly, these areas remain virtually all-white to this day. Based on nearly a decade of painstaking research in archives and census records, Buried in the Bitter Waters provides irrefutable evidence that racial cleansing occurred again and again on American soil, and fundamentally reshaped the geography of race. In this groundbreaking book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elliot Jaspin has rewritten American history as we know it.

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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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781615599424
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 3/5/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


DON LESLIE has appeared on and off Broadway as well as in over fifteen feature films and various episodic television shows. He is an accomplished audiobook narrator and also voices commercials, on-air narrations, and movie trailers.

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

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