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Upbuilding Black Durham: Gender, Class, and Black Community Development in the Jim Crow South / Edition 1

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In the 1910s, both W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington praised the black community in Durham, North Carolina, for its exceptional race progress. Migration, urbanization, and industrialization had turned black Durham from a post-Civil War liberation community into the "capital of the black middle class." African Americans owned and operated mills, factories, churches, schools, and an array of retail services, shops, community organizations, and race institutions. Using interviews, narratives, and family stories, Leslie Brown animates the history of this remarkable city from emancipation to the civil rights era, as freedpeople and their descendants struggled among themselves and with whites to give meaning to black freedom.

Brown paints Durham in the Jim Crow era as a place of dynamic change where despite common aspirations, gender and class conflicts emerged. Placing African American women at the center of the story, Brown describes how black Durham's multiple constituencies experienced a range of social conditions. Shifting the historical perspective away from seeing solidarity as essential to effective struggle or viewing dissent as a measure of weakness, Brown demonstrates that friction among African Americans generated rather than depleted energy, sparking many activist initiatives on behalf of the black community.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A well-researched, textured, and eloquent community study that highlights the forms of cooperation and conflict between white and black Durhamites and within Durham's black community."—Journal of Social History

"Brown's powerful writing and careful research come alive in the many voices she uses in tracing the development of Durham's black community from emancipation to the early 1940s."—The North Carolina Historical Review

"Offer[s] a rich and textured portrait that illuminates many themes in the existing literature. . . . A worthy addition to the mosaic of studies charting the black experience in southern cities and states."—The Journal of American History

"This book follows in a distinguished line of scholarly research providing a strong and in-depth analysis of a local subject that is broad enough to attract readers across interdisciplinary fields. . . . This book is an important addition to the historiog

"Insightful. . . . A study in community transformation and a commentary on gender, race, and class within the African American community. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"Brown ingeniously frames her history as an evolution of consciousness across generations. . . . A deftly rendered study of a place that once fascinated and bedeviled America's foremost black individuals."—Southern Historian

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Leslie Brown is assistant professor of history at Williams College.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix Prologue 1 Introduction 9
1 Seek Out a Good Place: Making Decisions in Freedom 27
2 Durham's Narrow Escape: Gendering Race Politics 55
3 Many Important Particulars Are Far from Flattering: The Gender Dimensions of the "Negro Problem" 81
4 We Have Great Faith in Luck, but Infinitely More in Pluck: Gender and the Making of a New Black Elite 109
5 We Need to Be as Close Friends as Possible: Gender, Race, and the Politics of Upbuilding 147
6 Helping to Win This War: Gender and Class on the Home Front 217
7 Every Wise Woman Buildeth Her House: Gender and the Paradox of the Capital of the Black Middle Class 249
8 There Should Be ... No Discrimination: Gender, Class, and Activism in the New Deal Era 285
9 Plenty of Opposition Which Is Growing Daily: Gender, Generation, and the Long Civil Rights Movement 309 Conclusion 331 Epilogue 343 Notes 345 Bibliography 395 Index 427
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