Bittersweet Legacy: The Black and White 'Better Classes' in Charlotte, 1850-1910

Bittersweet Legacy: The Black and White 'Better Classes' in Charlotte, 1850-1910

by Janette Thomas Greenwood

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Bittersweet Legacy is the dramatic story of the relationship between two generations of black and white southerners in Charlotte, North Carolina, from 1850 to 1910. Janette Greenwood describes the interactions between black and white business and professional people--the 'better classes,' as they called themselves. Her book paints a surprisingly complex portrait of race and class relations in the New South and demonstrates the impact of personal relationships, generational shifts, and the interplay of local, state, and national events in shaping the responses of black and white southerners to each other and the world around them. Greenwood argues that concepts of race and class changed significantly in the late nineteenth century. Documenting the rise of interracial social reform movements in the 1880s, she suggests that the 'better classes' briefly created an alternative vision of race relations. The disintegration of the alliance as a result of New South politics and a generational shift in leadership left a bittersweet legacy for Charlotte that would weigh heavily on its citizens well into the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807861783
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/09/2000
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 334
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Janette Thomas Greenwood is associate professor of history at Clark University.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A sophisticated treatment of the interplay between class and race that moves the discussion into rich, new areas. . . . A rewarding book.—Choice

A new and important story about the lost opportunities for interracial cooperation. . . . This solid and satisfying work is one of the few to examine the social foundations and political efforts of [African American] middle-class groups without romanticizing their achievements or lamenting their limitations.—Journal of American History

We have Janette Thomas Greenwood to thank for helping to initiate the discussion of postwar race and class relations, uncovering new information on the postwar black community, and suggesting the rich potential of the sources.—Journal of Social History

Greenwood tells Charlotte's complicated story well. Indeed, throughout her study she provides a wonderfully nuanced account of the politics, institution building, city development, culture, and society of the city. . . . Local history at its best.—American Historical Review

Janette Greenwood has written a fascinating and important study of class formation and its effects on race relations in a New South town. Her analysis of the values of the black 'better class' in this era has applicability far beyond Charlotte.—Paul Escott, Wake Forest University

An engaging portrait of postbellum southern race relations, [this book] provides much original evidence of interracial coalition, cooperation, and fluidity prior to the nadir of black disfranchisement and legal Jim Crow.—Raymond Gavins, Duke University

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