But by age nineteen Peeples became what the whites in his world called a "traitor to the race." Pushed by a lone teacher to think critically, Peeples found his way to the black freedom struggle and began a long life of activism. He challenged racism in his U.S. Navy unit and engaged in sit-ins and community organizing. Later, as a university professor, he agitated for good jobs, health care, and decent housing for all, pushed for the creation of African American studies courses at his university, and worked toward equal treatment for women, prison reform, and more. Peeples did most of his human rights work in his native Virginia, and his story reveals how institutional racism pervaded the Upper South as much as the Deep South.
Covering fifty years' participation in the long civil rights movement, Peeples’s gripping story brings to life an unsung activist culture to which countless forgotten individuals contributed, over time expanding their commitment from civil rights to other causes. This engrossing, witty tale of escape from what once seemed certain fate invites readers to reflect on how moral courage can transform a life.
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|Publisher:||University of Virginia Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: Peeples's History as Social Movement History Nancy MacLean xiii
Part 1 Learning Whiteness
1 The Arrival of Another Birthright Segregationist 3
2 Learning God's Primary Colors 12
3 Boys Will Be Boys 19
4 Out of the Family Tempest 26
5 Receiving My Class Assignment in High School 32
Part 2 Encountering a New World
6 The Hillbilly Blues 39
7 Dr. Alice Recruits Another Justice Seeker 44
8 Boot Camp for Human Rights 51
9 Some Shipmates Are More Equal than Others 62
Part 3 Battling the Hydra
10 Reconnecting with the Struggle on the Home Front 71
11 Sit-ins Come to the Old Capitol of the Confederacy 77
12 "They Closed Our Schools" 86
13 The Bridge over the Mason-Dixon Line 94
14 A New Career and Maybe a New Virginia? 104
15 Communists, Sex Fiends, and Half-Breeds Take the Struggle to Appalachia 120
16 Confronting the Racism of the "Baron" of Kentucky Basketball 136
Part 4 Combating Old Injustices in New Finery
17 An Activist Professor in a New University in the Old Capital of the Confederacy 143
18 If the Hurricane Don't Blow You Away, the Government Will 152
19 Guilty of Pushing Racial Justice Too Fast 160
20 New Human Rights Struggles in the Era of Stealth Racism 167
Epilogue: Finally a Kinsman with Whom I Am Not a Stranger 183
Afterword: Peeples's History and Virginia History James H. Hershman Jr. 193
Further Reading on Virginia Civil Rights History 205
What People are Saying About This
White southerners have long had ‘a rage to explain,’ but only a few have told about the South from a white working-class point of view. Scalawag is a riveting coming-of-age tale: the first-person story of a poor boy’s moral education. Overcoming the injuries of class and the crippling lessons of white supremacy, Edward Peeples went on to become a foot soldier in a long struggle for human rights. We are in his debt, and in the debt of his historian collaborators, for a memoir that illuminates a whole landscape of local activism too often eclipsed by a popular narrative focused on a few iconic events and individuals.
A dazzling first-person account of a lifetime in the civil rights struggle, as a white southern boy grows up in Richmond, Virginia, grows out of his Jim Crow upbringing, and becomes a 'race traitor' scalawag.
Peeples gives us a remarkably intimate account of a youth misspent learning how to be white and therefore how to ignore the miseries caused on both sides of the color line by segregation, poverty, and violence. Just as important, he brings to life a maturity devoted to putting aside such childish things in order to fight against such miseries. This is an arresting personal and political account of the transformative power of freedom movements.