Of Times and Race contains eight essays on African American history from the Jacksonian era through the early twentieth century. Taken together, these essays, inspired by noted scholar John F. Marszalek, demonstrate the many nuances of African Americans’ struggle to grasp freedom, respect, assimilation, and basic rights of American citizens.
Essays include Mark R. Cheathem’s look at Andrew Jackson Donelson’s struggle to keep his plantations operating within the ever-growing debate over slavery in mid-nineteenth century America. Thomas D. Cockrell examines Southern Unionism during the Civil War and wrestles with the difficulty of finding hard evidence due to sparse sources. Stephen S. Michot examines issues of race in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, and finds that blacks involved themselves in both armies, curiously clouding issues of slavery and freedom. Michael B. Ballard delves into how Mississippi slaves and Union soldiers interacted during the Vicksburg campaign. Union treatment of freedmen and of U.S. colored troops demonstrated that blacks escaping slavery were not always welcomed. Horace Nash finds that sports, especially boxing, played a fascinating role in blending black and white relations in the West during the early twentieth century. Timothy B. Smith explores the roles of African Americans who participated in the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the creation of the Shiloh National Military Park. James Scott Humphreys analyzes the efforts of two twentieth-century historians who wished to debunk the old, racist views of Reconstruction known as the Dunning school of interpretation. Edna Green Medford provides a concluding essay that ties together the essays in the book and addresses the larger themes running throughout the text.