Reconstruction and the New South
I. The meaning of reconstruction —SHOW FILM PORTION OF GONE WITH THE WIND
This film represents what was in the 1930s the traditional interpretation of Reconstruction: black suffrage was the gravest error and that the South were the victims of horrible Northern aggression. Once the reality of the disfranchisement and segregation of Blacks became a fact in 1890s and with the solidifying of the democratic south, this tradition continued to survive because it was firmly entrenched in American political and social realities. Only with the 1960s 2nd reconstruction or Civil Rights Movement did a new evaluation of reconstruction occur.
Within this new interpretation historians began to see Andrew Johnson as no longer a high minded defender of the Constitution but a racist unwilling to compromise and thus destroying his own Presidencey. The Radical Republicans were shed of their “vindictive motives” and emerged as idealists. The policies of Reconstruction were based on principle rather than political advantage or personal gain. Rather than extreme, the Republican’s drive to protect black civil rights had had broad support within the Republican party.
What were the policies of the Radicals and of Johnson?
A. Political Reconstruction
1. Lincoln’s plan
a. bringing the states back into the Union quickly
b. respect for property
c. opposed harsh treatment–amnesty of 1863 offered full pardon, property of white southerners who would swear allegiance to the US, its laws, emancipation
–prominent confederate military and civil leaders were exempt.
–10% necessary for new state government
d. motive: shorten war and get whites to agree to emancipation
2. Opposition to Lincoln– Radical Rep.
a. equal rights for freedmen
b. tougher stance for confederate southerners
c. when Louisiana and Ark met the requirements of Lincoln–Congress refused to seat their delegation.
d. Wade Davis bill required 50%–equality but not suffrage for slaves
Radical Vision: Ideology of Free labor/Free education/Free rights would allow south to share in material abundance of North
–outraged at the strict black codes passed by SCarolina/Miss/Louisiana
3. Early Land distribution
a. Louisiana in 1862 Gen. Benj. Butler transformed slaves on sugar plantations into wage workers when the army confiscated lands. This policy continued through the course of the war by 1864 50,000 slaves were employed on 1500 plantations.
b. Gen. Sherman’s Sea Island order–forty acres and mule
–goal to alleviated strain on the army by thousands of impoverished AA who had fled seeking protection from the army.
–1864 40,000 slaves on 400, 000 acres
c. Freedmen’s bureau created in March 1865
Radical Republicans: Thaddeus Stevens proposed the confiscation of 400 mil acres
4. Jan. 1865 13 th Amendment– abolitioning slavery–ending the war in May of 1865.
5. Johnson’s Reconstruction–instituted while Congress was not in session
a. amnesty and pardon
b. property rights
c. Pres. pardons for Confed leaders /wealthy landowners
–90% applied rec’d pardon
d. By fall of 1865 –10 of 11 states met his requirement and he declared the “restoration of the Union.”
–when the Congress convened in 1866–they were prevented from being seated
e. seeking election 1868–saw the construction of a coalition of N.Dem/S.unionists/Conserv. Repub
–committed to white supremacy opposed rights for freedmen
B. Federal enforcement of reconstruction: The army remained in the south until 1877.
a. 1866 Civil Rights act–full citizenship on AA (birth=citizenship)
b. Expansion of Freedmen’s Bureau
–schools, teachers, courts to protect AA
c. Radical Rep/moderate Rep. overrode the Veto of Johnson’s opposition.
d. 14th Amendment passed to protect Civil Rights and a requirement for readmission
e. The Tenure of Office Act 1867 – led to Johnson’s impeachment
f. The 15th Amendment which granted universal male suffrage
–opposition fight between Women Suffrage groups and Elizabeth Cady Stanton/Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone/Julia Ward Howe
II. What as the Meaning of Emancipation, reconstruction for whites and for Ex-Slaves:
A. The 1960s revision of Black reconstruction saw as a time of extraordinary progress in the South.
But even the revisionists had to revise their portrayal of this morality play for fear of repeating some of the over statements and exaggerations that are apparent in GWW
1. Blacks never gained supremacy–out side of South Carolina only held a fraction of the Reconstruction offices.
2. Rather than unscrupulous adventureres, most carpet baggers were former Union soldiers seeking economic opportunity.
3. Scalawags were an amalgamation of “old line” whigs who had opposed secession in the first place and poorer whites who had long resented the planters’ domination. They saw opportunity in reconstruction to make the South more democratic.
4. The supposed corruption of the Reconstruction governments was dwarfed by Northern scandals such as Tammany and Boss Tweed in NYC; Credit Mobilier and the Whisky Ring.
—by the end of the 1960s historians believed that Reconstruction had been in deed a tragic era but because it had not gone far enough. It had failed to distribute the land and ensure economic base for AA. By the 1970s and local social histories infact revealed that Plantation owners survive the war with their land holdings and social prestige in tack.
Fully cognizant of what it did not achieve, Reconstruction was a dramatic experiment, the only instance where blacks within a few years of freedom, achieved universal manhood and exercised a degree of political power. In recent studies historian have begun to document the extent to which “blacks themsleves shaped the contours of change.”
At the point of emancipation, Levine sees blacks as agents of self pride and group cohesion, contradicting the Elkins victimization thesis of slaves. On the rock of suffering and injustice, blacks forged and nurtured a distinct culture. Levine examines the slave sources to hear the slave voice through folk religion, songs, stories. He departs from traditional sources that only understood slaves from the view point of their masters. He concludes that African Americans were not "denuded" of their culture nor did they emerge from slavery as cultural blank slates as argued by Myrdal and Moynihan. By privilegizing the "oral culture," Levine points to a multidemensional complexity of Black American culture.
Levine urges that we need to get beyond certain assumptions:
The concept of the "new Negro" an idea that popularized in the late 19th C. was based on the assumption that Negroes experience after slavery was cataclysmic" and that AAs "internalized the whiteman's image of themselves so that they believed they were somehow inferior and deserving of their fate and consequently did not protest in any effective way." (88)Levine argues that scholarship [pre-1971] was predicated on AA as non-actors but re-actors to white society. This form of scholarship sees a "straight line from slavery to the recent past as "disorganization and pathology."
III. The Meaning of the “New Negro” and freedom in post-bellum America.
The “New Negro” as used by Black authors and leaders was a concept that was very different one of victimization. "The term was used first in 1895 by the Cleveland Gazette to describe a group of Negroes who had just secured a New York civil rights law. "(89)
BTWashington--New Negro was "emerging" as a result of his policies of self-help and economic betterment.
Ray Stannard Baker wrote in 1908 wrote: "the old fashioned Negro went to the white man fore everything. . .the New Negro . . .urges his friends to patronize Negro doctors, dentists, shops etc.
1916 Dean William Pickens of Morgan College essays: New Negro "the Negro is on the threshold of a reanaissance of civilization and culture."
WEB DuBois--black businessmen creating a group economy.
After WWI to described artists/poets enaged in the Negro Renaissance
Alain Locke's 1925 collection of Negro writing: The New Negro --saw a golden day was dawning.
Although this ferment was not marked by direct mass action, there was more action than has been previously admitted.Bus boycotts of the 1950s were not a "break with the past" but a form of resistance that was used to oppose segregation in transportation and education. In 1906 protest occured in 25 Southern cities.
Levine was writing in 1971 represented the first of New Social historians who were writing of the AA experience. Much has been added to Levine and others through publications, films, courses, documentaries etc. that would answer his call that was to understand Negro protest and experience we need to get beyond the organized movements and the articulations of middle-class and upper-class Negroes upon whom the title of "leader" has been conferred and listen to vioces of the masses through their cultural expressions. (92)
The need for getting behind the "mask" or racial veil requires "penetrating" into the functions of the black church and fraternal societies which demonstrate that blacks have been able to "assume many of the social, economic, and political roles denied them in the outside society.”
ONCE FEDERAL TROOPS LEFT THE SOUTH...WHAT HAPPENED TO AFRICAN AMERICAN FREEDOMS AND EXPERIENCE IN THE WAKE OF INCREASING JIM CROW AND THE REDEEMER PROJECTS OF WHITE SOUTHERNERS?
The New Negro worked for civil rights and the building of:
1. Independent lives through increased right of mobility.
2. Rights within the work place
3. Political consciousness and active public sphere
–Resistance through the culture of everyday life
- Booker T. Washington–Tuskegee Institute
–WEB DuBois– NAACP
–Ida B. Welles – NCWA and the anty-lynching crusade
—Marcus Garvey – UNIA
1. MOBILITY: Tara Hunter Argues:
Working black women moved into Atlanta after slavery to forge their own sense of freedom and build independent lives. Constrained at every point by white opposition black women built neighborhoods, networks, and social spaces. Yet as the rise of Jim Crow led to despair and defeat, black Atlantians eventually began to embark on a second migration to the North later in the nineteenth century.
What did mobility mean for whites? SEE LITWACK
How did blacks feel about their new mobility and opportunties? SEE LITWACK
During Reconstruction, the population of Atlanta grew from 1900 blacks to under 10, 000 by 1870 as black workers and families faced enormous challenges to keep their hopes of economic self-sufficiency alive. Through the post war economy and the rebuilding of Atlanta, a number of jobs were available to blacks. However, women were confined to domestic work either in homes or hotels. In this changing environment from slave to free labor, negotiations had to be continually drawn. Expectations differed between whites and blacks. The guiding assumption of most blacks was that their new labor should not emulate slavery in time or tasks. (27) Equally important, black women used their mobility to juggle responsibilities at home and on the job. By assuming control and limits over their own work, black women mitigated the demands of white supremacy and the market economy.
By 1880 at least 98% of all black female wage earners were domestics which included a wide assortment of jobs within the homes of white middle-class families. The most optimal choice for black women was that of laundry woman. Here black women could work at home and during the depression of the 1870's, needs for washer women increased as white families cut back on regular household domestics. Invariably their choices of work were consistent with their desire to sustain their hard won independence. They chose, as Hunter argued, individual strategies of resistance like maintaining physical distance from white employers, quitting to meet family needs, and re-appropriating material assets of their employer by "pot toting."
Engagement of the public sphere. How did African Americans begin to build a civil rights consciousness in the wake of increasing Jim Crow segregation opposition.
a. COMMUNITY BUILDING AND NETWORKING:
Hunter pointed out that freedom could not be secured through free labor alone, blacks needed to exercise their political rights in order to safeguard it. (31) How would they do that? What skills, training etc. was necessary? The black women of Atlanta also built informal community networks through their laundry work. As a practical vocation that lent itself to community building and fostering informal networks among black women it provided additional opportunities to foster resistance. Other community organizations included churches, associations, and secret societies which provided mutual support for black women experiencing the pressures of exploitation. Individual resistance strategies and collective actions were both found to be necessary in order to secure rights as workers and human beings. (73)
Attempts to transform the political system were thwarted by whites through such groups as the KKK who used lynching, rape and terror in an attempt to eliminate free labor and the political power of blacks. Besides physical threats that diminished the meaning of freedom, legal abuses were used to deny African Americans of reuniting with their families. (35) Opposition to black freedom disregarded the unity of the family by impeding black parents from reuniting with children. Reconstruction of the family and all its problems and challenges was the highest priority to ex-slaves as well as education and literacy--these three goals were closely tied to economic self-sufficiency. More importantly, freedom meant to African Americans the re-establishment of family connections, literacy, political rights, and the security of a decent livelihood without sacrifice of human dignity. (43) Black women migrated to Atlanta with expectations of fulfilling these goals despite white opposition.
Strikes were a frequent form of resistance in the Post-bellum South and point to a tactic that was later used in the 1950s Civil Rights Movement and pont to the fact that the 1950s was not a radical break from the past.
Hunter focused on the washer woman strike of 1881, the year of the New South's International Cotton Exposition.
White employers, Hunter observed, had the power to confine black women to domestic work but not the unilateral power to determine how and under what conditions that labor would be organized and performed. (97) Atlanta black women, Hunter concluded, would not consent to their own oppression. First, labor organizing among black domestics in Atlanta began long before 1881. In 1881 a strike was possible because community networks and institutions were in place. Second, broader political struggles provided the right timing and opptimism characterzied the black community. Hunter pointed out that a surge in "Republican ward activisim, takeover of state and local parties, public debate about the Jonesboro lynching created a successful atmosphere for the strike to take place."(97) Women used grass roots organizing--rallies, prayers, speeches, and singing in black churches, petitions and letters allowed AA to pressed as far as possible before the New South found other ways to for keeping blacks in check in the era of Jim Crow.
This model of community building or leadership from the bottom was a method used over and over again by black women and particularly by Ella Baker in her work with SNCC in the 1960s.
b. CHURCH: The most important social, cultural, and political institution in the post CW Black community.
In the nineteenth century, a number of factors contributed to the religious life of blacks both free or slave. Revivial theolgy provided a condemnation of slavery, a tendancy for participation of blacks in the life of the church as exhorters, preachers and even founders of churches even at times across racial lines. The egalitarian emphasis in Methodism for example pushed them to condemn slavery. However, southern Methodists were not willing to go that far. Slavery was becoming an economic necessity in the South and thus Christianity was used to defend it as a positive good based on a mutual duty of slave to master and master to slave. Raboteau refers to this planation mission as a creation of a gospel order that convinced slaves and masters that their salvation depended on it. It was during the first quarter of the nineteenth century that a whole ideology of church discipline was published in pamphlets, taught from the pulpit and preached in the community that reminded slaves of their duty as well as reminding owners of their duty toward their slaves.
Throughout this period and up to the Civil War, two conflicting messages continually created problems that limited Christian fellowship and shaped church life for African Americans--one encouraged black independence; the other, white control. By looking at statistics of church membership to measure the influence of Christianity upon the life of the slave, one is struck with the numbers. DuBois quoted 468,000 black church members in 1859 and by the end of the century, 2.7 million church members out of a black population of 8.3 million. When missionaries after the Civil War came south, Raboteau discovered, they found a black church population that was articulate, experienced at pastoring and forming their own congregations and that this "invisible institution" had been the folk relgion of the slave community.
---. Black Church as a separate group rose in both North and South
--Blacks asserted control over their own religious life
eg. North: AME Church and Richard Allen and Absalom Jones found
Free African Society in Phil.-- a nondenominational religious society and aid org.
--segregated seating in the Methodist Church pointed to the limits of egalitarian toleration and led to the raising of funds to build an African American Church
--Richard Allen remains a Methodist org. Bethal African Church 1794--1816 AME org.
--Jones remained an Episcopalian org. St. Thomas in 1796
--Peter Williams, Sr. left a white Methodist Church and founded Zion Church 1801 and later org. AME Zion Church denom. in 1848.
---South: “invisible” institution: Characteristics of the slave religious life in the nineteenth century.
Joyner, Charles. “Believer I Know: The Emergence of African-American Christianity.” In African-American Christianity: Essays in History. ed. Paul Johnson. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994): 18-46.
--- African-American Christianity in the context of religious culture.
--a theological dilemma: how far to take Christian application
--- African-American Christianity in the context innovation and adaptation
Albert Raboteau, Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. (1978)
Historians such as John Blassingame, Sterling Stuckey, Lawrence Levine, Eugene Genovese and others have demonstrated the fallacy in assuming that slaves left no articulate record of their experience. Using similar sources (slave narratives, black autobiograophies, and black folklore) Albert Raboteau tells the story of slave experience through the voice of the slaves themselves, and explores the religion of African slaves in all its complexity. Addressing such questions as: what were the origins of black religion, what aspects of African religion were retained by the slaves, what was the impact of Christianity on the slaves, and what was distinctive about the religion in the slaves quarters? Raboteau's work is divided into two parts, African heritages and the characteristics of slave religion as practised in America.
According to Raboteau, the gods of Africa continued to live--in exile.
1.Residual Africanisms in worship
--Slave worship/congregational response
--antiphony exemplified the solidarity of the community
--talking back at the sermon/ bodily, external worship singing, shouting etc.
--preachers were men of status
--ritualized language and behavior as symbolic actions
2. Role of slave religion in the life of slaves
-source of cultural values
-source of understanding themselves, their world, and their relationship to the world
-model for behavior and of behavior
3. Prayer and Special occasions
--. "steal away" -- secret prayer meetings which slaves could receive more authentic preaching than the constant attention to obeying the masters rule.
---social occasions such as revivals, baptisms, marriage or funerals, which were experienced by numerous black slaves.
--for the most part slave religion was a private affair. It included a private place, represented by the overturned pot, the cabin room, the prayin ground and the "hush harbor."
According to Raboteau, the slave kept these as his own and no matter how religious their master might be, he would not allow slaves praying for freedom in this world.
--the seasons of religious life--sunday activities, camp meetings, etc.;
--slave preachers who presided over baptisms, marriages and funerals was an influential figure in the slave community preaching as Bible Christians. Unable to read the bible, preachers nevertheless learned the message of the Christian gospel that contained a healthy skepticism of their masters interpretation and combined with their own experience.
-- Oral tradition/Poetic transformations
--hidden meanings of power, deliverance, the passage of the soul to the next life
--end of slavery
-- Code for resistance, alternative identity
5. African practice of conjur/Spirit Possession
-- Fragmentation and reformation
-- Inherited African cosmology included polytheism, rebirth, spirit possession in religious ritual
-- External manifestations became a part of conversion
--External participation via dancing, shouting etc. created a mutual performance
6.Hags, Haunts, and Plat Eyes
-- Parallel stream of Africanisms that were not incorporated in African-American Christianity
-- Spirits of the dead
-- Occult outside of Christianity=Voodoo
c Creativity of Slave Christianity
1.. Unified religious cosmology of Africa fragmented in the new world
--adherence to various components was not uniform
2. African-American Christianity = a convergence
-various African patterns
-white cultural influence
-necessities demanded by the new environment
According to Rabataou:
“The slave's acceptance of Christianity resembled a process of accomodation similar to those other immigrant groups. The slaves brought their cultural past to the "task of translating and interpreting doctrinal words and ritual gestures of Christianity."
3. African- American Christianity shaped and reflected their world view through the twin lens of slavery and Africa
-reinterpreted Christianity in terms of deep-rooted African religious concerns
-concept of the sacred cosmos=all experience was religious
eg. naming children, planting, hunting, and fishing practices.
-concept of cognitive orientations--what was appropriate behavior
4. Liberation uses of Christianity
--Raboteau demonstrates how the religion of the slaves could be used as a double edged sword and enabled the slaves to declare the incaptability of slavery with Christianity. Just as Christianity was used to defend slavery and the gospel order, slaves were effective in using Christianity and their religious experience to condemn slavery and justify their insistence on freedom even to the point of rebellion.
--They were also effective in distinguishing the hypocricy of the master's religion and their exemption from interpretations that masters insisted upon such as stealing. They felt they themselves were stolen and thus denied this commandment applied to them.
5. Slave religion created an African/American Christian identity of empowerment not passivity other worldliness
--slave relgion has been described as other worldly and compensatory,
--descriptions that Raboteau suggests distorts the full story and simplifies the complexity of religious motivation in human behavior. Belief in a future state does not always follow that one accepts the suffering or oppression of the present life. While slave religion did offer comfort, it just as easily provided the inner inspiration and justification for rebellion either internally or externally. --understanding of divine authority and realizing that obeying the commands of God even when they contradicted the commands of masters developed a moral authority over their masters.
--The role of preacher and conversion gave slaves respect, identity and power which acted as a countervailing force to the dehumanizing and devaluing of their experience in slavery.
--The role of the community: prayer meetings, songs, dance etc. slaves created a community and fellowship that transformed their individual sorrows and provided the basis for an institutional community from which they would find "space of meaning, freedom and transcendence."
d. African-American Christianity appropriation of Biblical liberation myths.
1. Comparison between Puritan Symbol and African Symbol
--Puritan vision: America’s destiny
eg. John Winthrop’s: “A Modell of Christian Charity”
-America the promised land: “A city on a hill.”
-Europe as Egypt and bondage
-Puritans as the New Israel in covenant with God
eg. 1783 Ezra Stiles, “The US Elevated to Glory and Honor.”
-sees America as redeemer nation
--African vision: America the darker Israel
eg. Maria Stewart, “Essay and Speeches.”
-America was Egypt-America stood under God’s judgement
-Deliverance not in human agency but God-Resistance justified by Exodus story
-Slavery against God’s will and would eventually end
-Christ seen as a second Moses-deliverance in the future
2. Black Appropriation of the Exodus story
-articulated their peoplehood-a divinely favored people
-Emancipation validated their faith
-Nadir of Race relations led to looking to Africa as the black promised land in the 1890's
-others searched for the Promised Land here
--eg. Martin Luther King, “I Have A Dream”--his people still wait for the Promised Land
***Is America Israel or Egypt?***
e.. Emergence of the Black Church in freedom and the twentieth Century
1.. Multiple creation of new institutions after Civil War
2. Baptist black church groups
--Colored Primative; the National Baptist Convention;
--Apostolic church movement: Reformed Zion Apostolic Church;
3..--Methodist groups--African Union First colored Methodist Protestant Churh; Christian Methodist Ep. church;
4. . Churches acted as instutional focus during JimCrow/reconstruction
--They provided schools
--community leadership and organizations
5.. one third of blacks were church members by 1900 vs. 5% in 1800
6. . Adapted to changes in twentieth century
---black migration to North: 75% in rural south prior to 1900/ 1970-75% urban/50%in North
The Church and the Public Sphere: How did the intersection of politics and religion become a model for political expression in AA community? What were the characteristics of democratic ideology within the black community?
Elsa Barkley Brown : "Negotiating and Transforming the Public Sphere: African American Political Life in the Transition from Slavery to Freedom."
1. Central to AA construction of democratic discourse was the church=foundation of black pub.sphere
2. Collective enfranchisement was the basis for Black women's political activism: during recons. when Republican convention was held in Richmond, black families enmasse joined the delegates at the convention site --First African Baptist Church. They assumed as equal a right to be present and paticipate
3. Black Richmod operated in two diff. political arenas: internal where women were enfranchized
and participating in parades, rallies, mass meetings and the conventions themselves
External: decided AA men and women's political status--men obtained legal franchise external from the black comm. However: women continued to paticipate in large numbers political meetings and to org. political societies in VA, LA and SC. as well as show up at election sites.
4. Vote had a sacred and collective character--differed from patriarchial notion where men voted on behalf of women had not imput. Black women assumed political rights came with being apart of the community
freedom was viewed than as collective--freedom would be acrued only when all were free
5. Toward the end of the 19th c. mass political meetings declined due to First African restricting use of its building as well as White Republicans trying to progressively remove black men from the party process.
Black women were being restricted to the private sphere as AA community debated whether women could participate in the internal political org. of the black community or in public church roles. A similar limitation was being place on illiterate men and women through voter qualifications and lining of hymns.
6. Brown offers a corrective interp. that black women's political prom. was due to diesenfranchisement of black men = to an external force. She sees women creating black women's org. as a result of internal community dynamics.( ie. being silenced in church and politics)
eg. the immed. postCW =collective political voice that included men, wom, children
vs. the late 19thc.=a narrowing of politics and approp. political behavior
Brown sees Progressive reforms of late 19th c.by middle class black women as a reaction to being silenced in the internal political community. Drawing on the new narrative of the endangered woman, middle class women became protectors of the poor blacks and thus reinserted themselves into a public political role.
Thus constructions of manhood and womanhood became central arguments for political rights setting the stage of a masculine conception of liberation struggle in the 20thc.
c. RESISTANCE IN EVERYDAY LIVES:
How the Public Sphere is a location of resistance within the AA community.
Robyn Kelley: “We’re Not What we Seem.” is an example of what Levine has called for in understanding the culture of the masses.
Levine sought to explore black music although black music did not always speak of protest or spend its time solely on reacting to whites–it did serve as “mechanism by which Negroes could be candid in a society that afforded them little opportunity, it would allow them to assert their own individuality, aspirations, and sense of being.” Black music offers and alternative vision to the dominant values of society and reveals the agency of black actors.
Kelley explores the meaning of everyday acts of resistance --how race, class, gender shape working class consciousness; and bridge the gulf between the social and cultural every day political struggles.
1. Drew from Herbert Aptheker's framework for the hidden and disguised location of acts of resistance, planned rebellion, and opposition that shaped everyday southern society.
2. Drew from anthropologist James C. Scott who points to a "hidden transcript" by oppressed groups that challenge the dominant culture through folklore, jokes, songs, etc. other cultural practices=Infra politics.
Kelly argued that political history of oppressed people cannot be understood without reference to infra
politics and their cumulative effect on power relations.
3. Infra politics gets at the why of political involvement not just the how.
4. Jim Crow politics for blacks was not sep. from lived experience;" the many battles to roll back constraints; to exercise power over; or create space within, it institutions and social relationships that dominated their lives."(78)
5. Using this framework Kelley looked at urban black working-class opposition in the 20th C. South: semi/public/semi-private spaces of community and home, workplace, and public space.
Resistance and opposition politics was formed at home, Kelley argued. At play, he explains how the "zoot suiters" were simultaneously challenging and reiforceing exsisting power relations. Religious life has, Kelley contended, been treated as culture, ideology, and organization. The sacred and spirit world are often used as both weapons of protections or strategies of opposition. eg. conjure, God being on one's side, sign from above or conversation with a ghost, a spell or talking in tongues are they a hidden transcript or "false consciousness."(88) These were seen as real sources of power against an evil employer or an abusive working relationship. W.E.B.duBois considered boldly considered freed people's narratives of "divine intervention" which he argued cannot be reduced to "culture."
Central to black working-class infra-politics was sabotage, foot draging, and mobility--blacks could quit. The shear magnitude of mobility negates any theory of accomdation by the black working -class. Mobility was due to wanting to vote, provide education for family and was considered even by employers as crucial step to self-empowerment. Kelley argued, the self empowerment from mobility explains why so much energy was expended limiting labor or redefining it as shiftlessness, indolence, or a childlike penchant to wander. (95)
Infrapolitics includes examination in the racialized social location of community and workplace. The racialized workplace particularly for women who are exposed to sexual exploitation or humiliating and unhealthy work, black women form networks of solidarity. Also another strategy for women was the opportunity for home work. eg. Tera Hunters work that discusses the advantages for black washer women to have control over their work while also making it part of a community project allowing them to form social bonds. White workingclass consciousness was also racialized as work was divided along race lines defined by "nigger work." Something was gained by being white. Thus, Kelley sees the need for understanding the social and political character of "nigger work" in order to understand infrapolitics of working-class. First, the division of labor--once its done by blacks it becomes less "manly" and undermined its worth. Second, racial harrasment from employers and white workers. Thus, most issues for black workers were over autonomy and dignity. Finally, interracial conflict opens up ways to think about the function of public and hidden transcripts for white workes.
Finally, examination of the public space and day to day resistance to segregated public space needs to be the future focus of civil rights history. Kelley believed that by looking at the realms of infrapolitics --ie. dailty confrontations and blatant acts of resistance--we find that black passengers were concerned with much more than legalized segregation. Rather than just being concerned over the space on the bus, black working class AAs were more concerned about acts that humiliated: by operators, passengers, shortchanging, power of drivers to allocate limited space to blacks, making blacks pay to the front/enter at rear. Buses became moving theaters of performance and military conflict. Kelley believed that labor historians need to rethink the terrain of the public space as a source of race, class and gender conflict. For black workers the public space both embodied the most repressive and violent aspects of gender/race oppression but it also provided more opportunities for acts of resistance. (110) Kelley concludes that contrary to the image of a passive black working-class, by looking at infrapolitics the most oppressed of the black community has always resisted. He agrees that his data confirms Aptheker's notion that opposition/containment and repression /resistance are inextricably linked. Aptheker reminded us what lengths the threat of resistance compells a large expensive and complex structure to maintain order. "Hegemonizing is hard work."(110)
For Kelley, the realm of infra politics-from everyday resistance at work and in public spaces- to the elusive hidden transcripts recorded in working class discourses and cultures-holds rich insight into the 20th c. black political struggle. He wants to despell the division between social and political history and "remap" the sites of opposition in order to get closer to "knowing" the people--who as Richard Wright says "are not what " they seem.
4. INSTITUTION BUILDING
a. Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute
--Born in Franklin County, VA in 1856. After emancipation his family moved to wage work in Western, VA to work in the salt mines. He was hired as a domestic servant as young teen and attended night school .
–1872 enrolled in Hampton Institutue–a school that trained former slaves in the trades. Graduating in the top of his class he became a teacher at Hampton.
—Hampton founded by Samuel Chapman Armstrong who taught that labor was spiritual force for increased wage capacity, fidelity, accuracy, honesty, persistence, and intelligence. He advocated land ownership, homes, and vocational skills. BTW became the most articulate spokesperson for Armstrong’s ideals of practical education and belief in the importance of negro- self-help
—schools and education were area were whites were willing to tolerate growing institutions
—Freedman schools, Missionary boards of Methodists founded schools
— Philanthropy of Northern industrialists such as Rockefeller and other foundations were aimed at Negro education ie. Julius Rosenwald of Sears
–they contributed funds in lieu of the state which was paying only a fraction of AA education.
—1900 28,000+ Negro teachers and 1.5 mil. Negro children in school; 2000 colllege grads.
—The problem for Black education was the debate between whites and blacks over the type of education.
—arguments were either for limited education/unlimited or practical education given the AA position.
—at 25 BTW was appointed principal of the Tuskegee Normal School for colored teachers. It began the first year with 30 male/female students and met in a church. The school acquired its first building a year later which was designed and built by AA, a tradition that was continued at Tuskegee. The first Graduating class was in 1885.
—the curriculum trained teachers to work with rural communities to improve farming, hygiene, and nutrition. Trades were taught in order to make students self-supporting.
—Washington travel extensively to solicit funds for the school.
—BTW sought ways to reach local farmers through the Tuskegee Negro Conference in 1892–the famed George Washington Carver was hired as the Institute’s ag. director. Carver went onto to create an extension course —“Short Course in Agriculture”which gave training to farmers in one week long conference and then follow-up from Carver through the year.
—By 1906 BTW had purchased an abandoned plantation and built the Tuskegee Institute on 1000 acres. In 1906 it had 156 teachers, 1600 students and owned 2300 acres of land. The school remains a private institution.
–Top rate faculty came to Tuskegee–besides Carver; Rober Taylor the first blace architect to graduate from MIT; David Willisont was one of the first landscape architects in America.
–In the late 1930s the military selected Tuskegee to train AA pilots because of their commitment to aeronautical training. It had instructors, facilities, and a climate for year-round flying.
—In 1895 BTW articulated his philosophy of Negro-self help in his famous Atlanta Exposition speech. In the speech he seemed to be supporting separate development of blacks from whites as a “necessary condition for economic cooperation between the races.”
—“In all things that are purely social, we can be separate as the fingers, yet as one hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”
–White promoters of what as to be known as the “New South” –the celebration of Southern industrialism were fearful that employment of blacks in Southern industries would undermine southern paternalism and the racial intimacies men such as Henry Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution
and George Washington Cable, New Orleans author and reformer. While Grady and Cable differed on the extent of black civil rights, they were both agreed on social segregation. Thus the appeal that BTW had for them was that it gave them hope that the New South could both be progressive and paternalistic at the same time.
—only after this speech as BTW elevated as the speaker for the race and become widely known.
—BTW came at a time immediately following Fredrick Douglas’ death and increase in antiblack lynchings which forced a more cautious appeal to civil rights.
–Washington was preaching the gospel of the New South —prosperity and racial and class order.
—he urged black men to “cultivate friendly relations with the southern white man, their next door neighbor. –“agitation for social equality was extreme folly”
—“the opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory was worth more than spending a dollar in the opera house.”
–BTW assured whites if they cast “down their bucket among the eight million Negroes who have been known for their fidelity...faith...law abiding and as un-resentful people.”
—Washington’s speech electrified the audience–drawing a delirium of applause.” The New York World reported that “The fairest women of Georgia stood up and cheered. It was as if the orator had bewitched them.” Washington felt he had been carried away in a vision.
b. WEB Dubois and the NAACP
—talented tenth–1903 from an essay found in his Souls of Black Folk
–critical of BTW and his Gospel of uplift at the expense of “higher aims of life” and an uncritical acceptance of the triumphant capitalism
—esp. critical of BTW’s anti-intellectualism and short-sightedness
–critical of BTW’s silent submission to civic inferiority. Black business could not be sustained without suffrage. He saw BTW as a “compromiser” between blacks, the north and the south.
–It was apparent the business education that BTW emphasized was already being replaced by “vertical/horizontal combinations” that discredited the possibility of small business. In addition, the training BTW was providing was in skills and trades that were diminishing. BTW failed to take into account the problems peculiar to the wage earner in a modern industry.
—Niagara (the terminus for the underground railroad) Meetings of 1905–drew up a platform for aggressive action
—motivated by news of lynchings, race riots, and the disenfranchisement of blacks in Plessy v. Ferguson which signaled the nadir of black relations and the height of Jim Crow
—1906–Harpers Ferry (scene of John Brown’s body)
—1907 Boston at Franeuil Hall the scene of abolitionist movement
—August 1908 Springfield riots shocked many whites into action to create an abolitionist type group that would fight for “absolute political and social equality”
–journalist William English Walling and social worker Mary White Ovington called for a conference on Lincoln’s birthday in 1909 —the Niagara Movement radicals were included in the call including: Jane Addams, Wells, DuBois, and created the NAACP
–agreed on a program to work for complete enfranchisement of negro, abolition of forced segregation and equal education, and enforcement of the 14/15th amendments. DuBois was the only black officer who headed up publicity and the publication of Crisis. By 1918 100,000 readers. The other objective was the creation of the Legal Redress Committee. By 1923 they had won three important cases:
—Guinn v US –in which Maryland/OK tried to grandfather racial suffrage clauses
—Buchanan v. Warley–Unconstitutional restrictive housing laws
–Moore v. Dempsey.–won a new trial of a convicted Ark. Peon who did not have a jury of his peers ...ie. No black members and therefore didn’t get a fair trial.
c. Ida B. Wells-Barnett – NCWA anti-lynching crusade
author and journalist who’s biography A Crusade for Justice describes the narrative of a visionary pragmatist
—a woman’s activist–who becomes a force for collective grass roots leadership
—while appealing to the dilemma of resistence for black women
—black women had little enforceable claims to rights and respect in American society and were limited by both white society and black men.
—Crusade was a blend of religious and political commitment — a narrative of her calling to crusade against lynching and how she carried out her calling even in the face of increasing political isolation.
—a combination of:
– -And understanding of the unfinished business of reconstruction
—"expression in literary and practical projects of family recuperation and community education in resistence to racism."
—"self-fashioning" religious/strategically inspired for life in:
----Welles-Barnett’s Narrative is a combination of a"frustrated American success story" with themes of slave/christian conversion narratives.
Three different voice:
—2. Speaking as an exile
—3. Parable telling
What did she Testify to?:
—Like their foremothers in slavery, free women held a deep concern for personal safety and bodily integrity"
–freedwoman's reputation was an intimate/public matter over which she had limited control.
—Her persona "Iola" allowed a persona in order to express the real person and offered a shield against prejudice.
—at the same time she kept a diary that was private and testified to her struggles with God.
Crusade testifies to the public struggles and practical strategies for survival
—eg. Like speaking out
— Having powerful friends
----carrying a weapon
—a survival guide for AA to make freedom real
The Memphis lynching of her friend Thomas Moss in 1892 opened her to the horror of lynching and
became the transformative event in her life that changed her life forever.
---July 16, 1862b.
--oldest of eight
--James Wells was a carpenter
--Elizabeth a well known cook in Holly Springs, MI
--parents were slaves working for a contracter and as a free until 1867 when a dispute over voting rights prompted James to go out on his own.
--attended Shaw University (later Rust College) estb. 1866 by Freedmen's Aid Society
--1878 both parents died of Yellow Fever forcing her to end her schooling and teach to support her tow brothers and three sisters. 1880 came to Memphis to teach at the invitation of an aunt.
II.Activist career began in Sept. 15, 1883 when she was forcibly removed from a first-class Ladies car on the Cheasapeake, Oh and SW RR ..she won a suit in a lower court. It would be overtuned in the State Supreme Court in 1887. She was asked to write of this experience for the Baptist weekly, The Living Way which began her journalism career. Using a pen name, Iola, she wrote on politiics, race matters, and advice columns which were picked up by the New York Freeman, The Gate City Press and the Fisk University Herald. In 1889, she was dubbed the Princess of the Press and was elected to the Afro-American Press Association, the first woman to hold that office. At the same time she became co-owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, a militant weekly. Two years later she was dismissed from her teaching job because she criticized the school system of inadequate facilities and sexual harrassment of black teachers by white board members.
III. Anti-Lynching career
--March 9, 1892 her friend Thomas Moss, president of a black grocery cooperative was lynched with two other employees, Calvin McDowell and Henry Stewart. When the only arrests that were made were "enraged black members of the community," Wells urged:
--boycotts of city's trolley cars
--encouraged Migration from Memphis to the West
--Wells became an investigative reporter culling newspaper accounts, visiting sites, and interviewing witnesses finding that the growing number of lynching was "due to economic competition and racial "control." And NOT the often claimed reason for lynching, protection of white women from being raped by AA men.
--May 1892 she argued that "rapes" in some cases were the result of "consensual liaisons" between black men and white women. This led to her newspaper office being bombed and her own life threatened.
--Oct. 1892 after moving to NYC and writing of lynchings for the New York Age women organized in NYC, Boston, and Phil. to raise money for her to be able to publish "Southern Horrors" which documented 728 lynchings between 1884-1892--one third were ever accused of rape, much less guilty of it. This organizational effort of women led to the founding 1896 of the NACW.
—In 1893 Wells protested the exclusion of AA in the World's Fair in Chicago and helped distribute the pamphlet "The Reason Why Colored American Is Not in the Columbian Exposition." It was published with the help of Frederick Douglas who wrote an essay, as did Wells and Ferdinand Barnett, a widowed lawyer with militant views who was founder of the first Chicago black weekly, The Conservator. Wells eventually married Barnett in 1895. A year later Barnett was named assistant state's attorney and headed the Negro Bureau for the Republican presidential campaign. They had four children.
1898--lynching of South Carolina postmaster, Frazier Baker led her to be a delegate to Washington to urge McKinley to take federal action against lynching. Although the Justice department tried the case, it could do little to convict the perpetrators because the jury refused to do so.
--1898 she became a leader in the Afro American Council which was founded to press protection and protest against Jim Crow and lynching. Both she and her husband were involved until the organization was dominated by BTWashington allies in 1902. Wells had been a critic of Washington as early as 1897. She argued that it was a mistake to believe that black people would gain rights through economic means. She was most disturbed that he would assume that "the criminal behavior of blacks was responsible for lynching, and his implication that with sufficient funding he and Tuskegee could ameliorate such pathology." (957) Despite her bringing the subject of lynching to an international audience, she was often forced into the shadow of black men who became the acceptable voice of black America.
III. Controversial Activism for Woman’s Suffrage was misunderstood by white women as well as black.
Her radical ideology also led to her resignation from the NACW after its 1899 convention in Chicago. She unsuccessfully challenged Washington ally Mary Church Terell as president. Wells worked with other anti-Bookerite activists Charles Bentley and Edward Morris in founding in 1903 the Equal Opportunity League.
Wells was also active in interracial activism believing that whites had an important role in community uplift and the anti-lynching campaign. She felt that black activists could "emancipate their white sisters from prejudice." Wells was active in the Illinois Equal Suffrage Assoc. and the Chicago Political Equity League. She was critical of both Frances Willard and Jane Addams because of their limited and uncritical views on lynching, she was able to make common cause with Addams on a number of occassions. In 1903 she worked with Addams to put an end to pro-school-segregation articles in the Tribune.
--protested the presentation of Thomas Dixon's play, The Clansman in city's theaters despite the efforts of Jane Addams.
--1908 Springfield Race riot. It was on the heels of a riot in Brownsville TX
--this took place at home of Ab. Lincoln
--it would awaken neo-abolitionist sentiment and question BTWashington's accommodationist strategies
--organized the Negro Fellowship League
--Feb1909--call for a conference by the son of William Lloyd Garrison and settlement workers was the catatlyst for the founding of the NAACP.
--Jane Addams and Mary McDowell, of the University of Chicago Settlement director
--Wells were only three of eight who signed the "call" and Wells was the only AA in the city to respond.
--May wells attended the conference and gave a paper on lynching
--Although the NAACP would take up lynching as a cause Wells relationship with the org. was troubled from the beginning. Her outspoken nature and demeanor caused WEB DuBois to want to drop her from the founding forty. Only after business man John Milhollan offered to resign and for her to take his place was she included. She spoke at the organization's founding meeting in 1910. She became the spokesperson for the group to the NACW meeting. While initially receiving enthusiasm when she tried to change the rules outlining the appointment of the editor of the NACW's journal, she was rebuffed. The editor at the time was the wife of BTWashington. By the following year, Wells complained that she was being excluded from councils within the NAACP
V. Radical activism beyond Chicago
1. Traveled to the scenes of lynchings Nov. 1909 in Cairo, Ill and was able to deny the Sheriff from being reinstated in accordance with anti-lynching law
2. Prevented Steve Green a tenement farmer who killed his landlord in self-defense from being extradited to Ark.
3. Activism in suffrage and after women got the vote in 1913 she was able to register with the aid of the Alpha Suffrage Club 3000 women in the 2nd ward to become a force in electing Oscar De Priest in 1915 to become the first black alderman in Chicago
4. Joined in supporting Harry Olsen the first judge of municipal court who gave Wells a job as probation officier.
5. 1915 took up the case of Joe Campbell a Joliet prisoner who as accused of setting a fire that killed the wife of the warden. Wells and her husband took the case to the Supreme Court and commuted his sentence from death to life.
6. After the AA migration following WWI. she tried to get the city to do something about the 26 bombings aimed at black residences in once all white neighborhoods and their realtors. Writing in a letter to the editor to the Chicago Tribune three weeks before the Race Riot of 1919 in Chicago her words would prophecy the violence that resulted.
7. In later years of activism she became involved with both Marcus Garvey and A. Philip Randolph both associations went against the grain of Chicago's black leadership.