Sterling Brown's A Negro Looks at the South

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Overview

Using oral history and the printed word, Sterling A. Brown set out during the Second World War to capture the response of African Americans, primarily living in the South, to America's involvement in the war and how it affected them. These responses, brought together in extended, non-fiction essays of many different types, illustrate the diversity of opinions in the Black South about the war and the war period in America. For nearly sixty years, the excerpts that were never published languished in Brown's manuscript collection at Howard University. Now, for the first time, all of the completed pieces of unpublished writings are combined with the few published sections into the book that Brown envisioned. The legacy Brown left us is not only a superb portrait of the way in which African Americans of the mid-century talked and lived; he also provided a methodology that oral and written historians will find extremely useful. This is clearly a document from another time, as its now outdated title reminds us, but it reveals a world that still informs our sense of ourselves as a nation. In fact, it is an unforgettable history, which Brown has cast in a bright, elucidating new light.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Brown's reports bear an austere poetry and rhythm about them. Fueling the reportage is an exacting intellectual mind with a nod to old-fashioned storytelling craft. Subject specialists in the social sciences will consider this a valuable title for inclusion in their folklore and oral history collection."—Jim Hahn, Library Journal

"Brown's reports bear an austere poetry and rhythm about them. Fueling the reportage is an exacting intellectual mind with a nod to old-fashioned storytelling craft. Subject specialists in the social sciences will consider this a valuable title for inclusion in their folklore and oral history collection."—Jim Hahn, Library Journal

"The valuable service that Tidwell and Sanders perform as the outstanding editors of Sterling A. Brown's A Negro Looks at the South is to pass on the legacy of Sterling A. Brown's authority, authenticity, and agency as innovative poet and radical critic."-frican American Review

Library Journal
Sterling Brown (1901-89) was a teacher and scholar of African American folklore. In this volume, his previously uncollected oral history is edited and given thematic organization by Tidwell (English, Univ. of Kansas) and Sanders (African American studies & English, Emory Univ.). Brown lucidly documents ways of life that had been impacted by psychologically and physically crushing institutionalized racism. His impressions here are of Southern life from 1942, when he embarked on a three-year tour of the region. His reports bear an austere poetry and rhythm about them. Fueling the reportage is an exacting intellectual mind with a nod to old-fashioned storytelling craft. Libraries already owning editor Sanders's A Son's Return: Selected Essays of Sterling A. Brownare advised that while A Negro Looks at the Southis a different project entirely, for the general reader the substance is in a similar vein. Subject specialists in the social sciences will consider this a valuable title for inclusion in their folklore and oral history collections.
—Jim Hahn
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195313994
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/17/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sterling Allen Brown (1901-1989) was an African American teacher, and writer on folklore, poetry, and literary criticism. John Edgar Tidwell is Associate Professor of English at the University of Kansas. Mark A. Sanders is Associate Professor of African American Studies and English at Emory University.

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Table of Contents


A Note on the Text     xi
Looking at Sterling A. Brown's South: An Introduction   John Edgar Tidwell   Mark A. Sanders     3
Prologue
"South on the Move"     19
"Out of Their Mouths"     23
By Way of Autobiography
"Old Buck"     37
"Old Man McCorkle"     51
"Bus Station"     54
"Club Car"     59
"Roommate"     62
"Return of the Native"     64
Jim Crow Journal
"On the Government"     81
"V for Victory"     90
"Jim Crow Snapshots"     93
"A Harvardian Goes South"     94
"Separate but Equal"     95
"Fats"     97
"Words on a Bus"     100
"Georgia Nymphs"     103
"And/Or"     109
Gone with the Wind
"I Look at the Old South"     115
"Sister Cities"     118
"Gone with What Wind"     124
"Symbol of the Old South"     131
"A Tour of History: Old New Orleans"     138
"Gee's Bend"     149
"Low Cotton"     161
"Take Your Coat Off, Gene!"     165
"Insurance Executive"     171
"Let'sLook at Your Base"     182
"Meekness in Bronze"     187
"No Ties That Bind"     190
Academic Retreat
"The Little Gray Schoolhouse"     199
"The Path to Alcorn"     206
"And Gladly Teach"     207
"What Could Freddie Say?"     214
"One Language, One People"     218
"Vicious Circle"     222
"The Palmer Case"     225
"Signs of Improvement"     233
"Colleges: Retreat or Reconnaissance"     239
Pursuit of Happiness
"And He Never Said a Mumbalin' Word"     253
"Song Hunter"     261
"The Duke Comes to Atlanta"     272
"Farewell to Basin Street"     275
"Po' Wanderin' Pildom, Miserus Chile"     281
"Jitterbugs' Joy"     285
"From Montmartre to Beaver Slide"     291
Men of War
"Soldiers of Construction"     301
"Cubs"     307
"Primary Field"     310
Epilogue
"Count Us In"     317
Annotations     345
Index     375
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