In Struggle against Jim Crow: Lulu B. White and the NAACP, 1900-1957

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African American women have played significant roles in the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality, but relatively little is known about many of these leaders and activists.

Most accounts of the civil rights movement focus on male leaders and the organizations they led, leaving a dearth of information about the countless black women who were the backbone of the struggle in local communities across the country. At the local level women helped mold and shape the direction the movement would take. Lulu B. White was one of those women in the civil rights movement in Texas.

Executive secretary of the Houston branch of the NAACP and state director of branches, White was a significant force in the struggle against Jim Crow during the 1940s and 1950s. She was at the helm of the Houston chapter when the Supreme Court struck down the white primary in Smith v. Allbright, and she led the fight to get more blacks elected to public office, to gain economic parity for African Americans, and to integrate the University of Texas.

Author Merline Pitre places White in her proper perspective in Texas, Southern, African American, women's, and general American history; points to White's successes and achievements, as well as the problems and conflicts she faced in efforts to eradicate segregation; and looks at the strategies and techniques White used in her leadership roles.

Pitre effectively places White within the context of twentieth-century Houston and the civil rights movement that was gripping the state. In Struggle Against Jim Crow is pertinent to the understanding of race, gender, interest group politics, and social reform during this turbulent era.

Merline Pitre is professor of history and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas Southern University. Her specialization is U.S. Reconstruction and African American history, particularly in Texas.

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Editorial Reviews

Details the career of Lula B. White, executive secretary of the Houston, Texas, branch of the NAACP. White was a significant force in the struggle against Jim Crow laws during the 1940s and 1950s. Places her in her proper perspectives in Texas, Southern, African American, women's, and general American history, and looks at leadership strategies she used. Details her successes as well as problems she faced in her efforts to eradicate segregation. Includes b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Michael R. Heintze

“The author is successful in meeting each of her stated objectives, especially in her discussion of Lulu White’s formative years. The importance of White’s childhood, education and friendships is artfully presented. Also noteworthy is the author’s candor in describing White’s hard-fought successes (e.g., her efforts to promote equal pay for public school teachers, to work for the abolition of white primaries, to promote desegregation of the University of Texas, and to expand the membership of the NAACP in Houston) and her numerous setbacks (e.g., the failed attempt at establishing the FEPC, the unsuccessful attempts to improve wages and collective bargaining, and the ongoing political and personality conflicts with the African American community and the Houston chapter of the NAACP).

“ . . . [White] certainly comes across as a forceful, effective female voice in the struggle for racial equality in Texas. The book certainly adds to our knowledge of and appreciation for civil rights activity at the local level. . . . The best feature of the work is the effective way the author meshes national events together with the work of Lulu White in Houston.”--Michael R. Heintze, Clemson University, and author of Private Black Colleges in Texas, 1865–1954


“The story of Lulu White is local history at its best and a model of contextual biography.” --Choice
The Journal of American History - Steven A. Reich

“I recommend this fine study of an important but neglected chapter of the early civil rights movement.”--Journal of American History
American Historical Review

“Merline Pitre’s work gives voices and faces to this generation of bridge women who defined the quest for equality for the post-Brown era.”--American Historical Review
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Merline Pitre is professor of history and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas Southern University. Her specialization is U.S. Reconstruction and African American history, particularly in Texas.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations IX

Preface XI

Acknowledgments XIII

Chapter 1 Coming of Age in Texas 3

Chapter 2 Carving a Niche in the NAACP 25

Chapter 3 Raising Her voice: Gadfly or Crusader? 37

Chapter 4 Taking Fearless Stand: The Fight for Economic Parity 56

Chapter 5 The Great Divide: Lulu White, the Black Community, and Equal Educational Opportunities 89

Chapter 6 Workhorse or Team Player? The NAACP Experience 105

Chapter 7 Lulu White and the Issue of Gender 129

Epilogue 144

Notes 151

Index 173

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