Unit 8 The Rise of Jim Crow and the Nadir, 1878-1915


The post-Reconstruction period in the South, which witnessed the rise of the Jim Crow system, marked a time when American race relations are thought to have reached their nadir, with whites pursuing efforts to reassert hegemony over blacks on every front, from disfranchisement to school segregation.

The term Jim Crow is believed to have originated between 1828 and 1831, when Thomas Dartmouth Rice, considered the “father of minstrelsy,” developed a song-and-dance routine that mimicked an old, crippled slave named James Crow, This routine became immensely popular, and by 1838 the term Jim Crow had become synonymous with “Negro.” By the late nineteenth century the term, as used principally, by southern whites, had come to refer to a system of racial segregation and discrimination that was beginning to take hold in the South, a system designed to perpetuate the subjugation of African Americans that had occurred under slavery.

Firmly locked in place throughout the South by 1915, Jim Crowism had two cardinal features. One was the legalized separation of the races, which, under slavery, was not necessary because the master/slave relationship implied white supremacy and because the control of slaves was actually best maintained by a large degree of close master/slave contact. Once blacks were freed, however, their social status was unclear, and the white desire to continue to “keep blacks in their place” necessitated a new physical and social distance between the races. Thus, after Reconstruction, states and local communities passed laws that segregated blacks in virtually every aspect of public and social life (schools, trains, restrooms, water fountains, parks, dance halls, barbershops, penitentiaries, restaurants, theaters, hospitals, asylums, institutions for the blind and deaf, cemeteries). As early as 1870, Tennessee, regarded as having pioneered in effecting Jim Crow legislation, passed a law prohibiting interracial marriages.

The second feature of Jim Crowism was the disfranchisement of African Americans. But, this disfranchisement was gradual. Initially, whites opposed to black political equality did not always bother to disfranchise blacks; sometimes they simply used bribery, violence, intimidation, and ballot-stuffing to record black votes for the Democratic Party. In fact, there were enough black voters between 1877 and 1901 to enable eleven black southerners (all Republicans) to sit in Congress. In 1890, however, Mississippi became the first state to effectively disfranchise African Americans, using a literacy test (it required an interpretation of the state constitution) and a poll tax as its methods. Other legal methods used in the South were the grandfather clause and white primary; extralegal methods included violence and terror (for example, lynchings, riots) and the denial of credit and, employment to blacks. By 1915 the combined use of such methods had effectively stripped southern blacks of the franchise.

Efforts to eliminate black suffrage were basically inspired by the desire to remove the possibility that blacks would use any political strength to oppose the second-class citizenship status to which they were being relegated. The destruction of the Republican Party in the South thus became imperative. Another concern of those opposed to the franchise for southern blacks involved the rise in the 1880s of the Populist movement in the South. Essentially representing small white farmers against monied interests, its general desire for a more equitable distribution of wealth was reflected in such specific demands as the regulation of railroad rates, building of farmers’ cooperatives, cheap money, and decreases in taxes. Its principal organization, the Southern Farmers’ Alliance (SFA), despite restricting its membership to whites, believed that poor black and white farmers shared economic interests. Such sentiment helped lead in 1886 to the formation of a black SEA affiliate, the Colored Farmers’ Alliance and Cooperative Union, which, with 1,250,000 members, was perhaps the largest black organization of its time. This biracial cooperation of farmers spilled over into politics arid resulted in some black support for the People’s (Populist) Party (organized in 1892), making the black vote pivotal in some elections. This development greatly alarmed the Democrats, prompting them to negate it through the elimination of African American suffrage. Democrats also raised the specter of disfranchising poor whites farmers if the Populists continued their efforts at wooing African American voters. In response, Populist leaders (for example, Thomas E. Watson of Georgia, Benjamin “Pitchfork” Tillman of South Carolina, and K. Vardaman of Mississippi) not only capitulated to the demands of the Democrats, but became the South’s shrillest and most virulent race baiters, in the process aiding those subsequent white efforts that virtually eliminated the black southern vote. This disappointing experience with the Populists made some blacks suspicious of political coalitions with whites for decades to come.

An increase in violence against African Americans, especially lynchings, accompanied the rise in Jim Crowism. During the 1890s, lynchings occurred with greater frequency than in any other decade. In 1892, for example, 161 blacks were lynched in the South, the highest yearly total ever (3,446 blacks were lynched between 1882 and 1964).

The epidemic of race riots that swept the nation in the early twentieth century added to black feelings of insecurity. Perhaps the most sensational instance of white lawlessness during this period took place in Atlanta, Georgia, in September 1906. Lashed into a fury of race hatred as an outgrowth of earlier efforts to disfranchise blacks, the city was paralyzed for four days as white mobs set out on a general destruction of black property and lives. Four African Americans were killed and many injured.

Helping to provide a philosophical justification for wholesale white terrorism was Social Darwinism, the pseudo-scientific application of Darwin’s evolution theories to human society. Thus, distinguished white scholars in the biological and social sciences argued that the Negro was the least intelligent of all racial groups – – a separate species next to the ape. Drawing on the notion of “survival of the fittest,” they also asserted that the evolutionary process had actually stopped for blacks who, in the face of an increasingly scientific, technical, and industrialized world, would become extinct. At a more popular level, anti-black, racist thinking was promoted through such works as Charles Carroll’s The Negro a Beast (1900); Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman (1905), which served as the literary basis for D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), a blatant cinematic appeal to white racism and sexual fantasies/fears about black men; Robert ShufeIdt’s The Negro: A Menace to Civilization (1907); and Edgar Rice Burroughs’s novel Tarzan (1914), which became a movie series in 1918.

The ascendancy after Reconstruction of the idea of “the white man’s burden,” the mission of whites to “civilize” (rule) the darker and inferior peoples of the world, served to support southern racist sentiment. This belief in whites as “civilizers” coincided with the rise of European imperialism, especially in Africa (the 1884- 85 Berlin Conference partitioned the continent), and the emergence of the United States as an imperial power itself, mainly as a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898 (through which its major acquisitions were Puerto Rico and the Philippines).

Two key decisions by the Supreme Court added to the difficulties that blacks faced during the post- Reconstruction period. In 1883 the Supreme Court invalidated the 1875 Civil Rights Act, contending that the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to discriminatory acts by individuals or local governments. Even more far-reaching was its Plessy v. Ferguson ruling in 1896, which upheld a Louisiana law requiring separate railroad coaches for blacks. This ruling established the “separate but equal” doctrine that became the key legal sanction for Jim Crow laws.

One of the ways in which African Americans, especially the masses, responded to the rise of Jim Crowism and the “nadir” period was migration. In this sense their movement was a form of protest, one that, to the extent it involved movement out of the South, was opposed by leaders like Frederick Douglass, who felt that the salvation of blacks rested in struggling to achieve their citizenship rights in the South. The exploitive conditions of sharecropping and the violence attendant to political activities were the main motivating factors for this movement. One area to which blacks moved in large numbers was the rural Midwest. Through the Exodus of 1879, the first significant movement of blacks out of the South, approximately six thousand migrants from Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, trekked to Kansas, where they established, in one instance, an all-black community, Nicodemus (1879). Roughly a decade later, in 1890, about seven thousand blacks from Arkansas, joined the “rush” to Oklahoma. Black migration to Oklahoma, which occurred when the black-town idea was attracting considerable interest, also led to the founding of all-black towns (including Langston in 1891 and Boley in 1904), some established with the intent of forming the nucleus of an all-black state in the West. After Reconstruction five thousand other African Americans headed West to become cowboys, participating in the great cattle drives that linked Abilene, Texas, and Dodge City, Kansas.

A second post-Reconstruction black migration pattern was the movement to cities, both southern and northern. New Jersey cities such as Newark were among those in the North that attracted such migrants. One migrant from North Carolina, Timothy Drew, or Noble Drew Ali, established in Newark in 1913 the Moorish Science Temple, the first major expression of the Islamic faith among black Americans. Drew eventually moved this religious group to Chicago, and from it emerged the Nation of Islam of Elijah Muhammad.

Atlantic City, with only fifteen blacks in 1870, experienced the most phenomenal influx of blacks during this period as a result of its growth as a resort center that offered many service jobs traditionally filled by blacks (maids, cooks, butlers, porters). By 1910 it had roughly ten thousand African Americans, the largest black community in New Jersey.

Movement of southern blacks to New Jersey during this period also added one more all-black community: Whitesboro. Probably the last community of its kind established in the state, it was named after George H. White of North Carolina, who left Congress in 1901 as the last black congressman of the post-Reconstruction period. A group of African Americans decided to leave Wilmington, North Carolina, after a race riot in 1898, and White helped them find and purchase land in Cape May County in 1899.

Emigration to Africa also continued to appeal to some southern blacks. During the period about four thousand left the country and settled in Africa, principally Liberia. Several groups were responsible for organizing these repatriation efforts: they ranged from the American Colonization Society, to the International Migration Society of the AME Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, to Chief Sam, an alleged Ashanti chief, who in 1915 carried a few hundred blacks from Oklahoma to the Cold Coast (Ghana). These emigration activities provided a continuum for interest in emigration to Africa that was to appear more markedly shortly thereafter in Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association.

Black American leadership adopted essentially two divergent responses to Jim Crowism. Until 1910 the prevailing response was accommodationism which deemphasized the pursuit of social and political equality for southern blacks. It’s standard-bearer was Booker T. Washington, who as the founder of Tuskegee Institute in 1881, was from the time of his famous 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exposition speech (1895 Atlanta Compromise) until his death in 1915 the acknowledged leader of black Americans. (Frederick Douglass, the previously acknowledged leader, died in 1895.) Muting his criticism of Jim Crowism and the terror and violence against southern blacks that accompanied it, he counseled that through self-help, character development (work ethic, frugality, temperance), property accumulation, and industrial (vocational) education blacks would elevate themselves and eventually obtain their citizenship rights. Establishing the National Negro Business League in 1900, Washington held up the self-made black businessman as the model for the struggling masses. His principal antagonist was W.E.B. DuBois. A founder of the Niagara Movement in 1905 and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, DuBois was the most outspoken advocate of full integration and militant protest against white racial injustices. He stressed such measures as demonstrations and litigation. In contrast to Washington’s glorification of the black capitalist, DuBois argued that the talented tenth, an elite corps of educated blacks, would guide the future course of African American people. He thus stressed an academic education for blacks, one that emphasized the dignity of the mind — the importance of intellect in human affairs.

The debate between Washington and DuBois over the type of education African Americans should receive – – industrial education versus academic education — was in particular played out in New Jersey through the establishment in 1886 of the New Jersey Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth. Located in Bordentown, its founder, the Reverend Walter A. Rice, an AME minister, was a Washington disciple; the school, reflecting its emphasis on vocational training, came to be called the “Tuskegee of the North.” Also giving impetus to its establishment was a 1881 New Jersey law that prohibited forcing blacks to attend segregated schools, but allowed the continuation of the long-standing tradition of establishing such schools if they were chosen voluntarily by blacks. By far the most celebrated and famous of the state’s all-black schools, “Bordentown” was closed in 1955 as a result of the 1954 Supreme Court decision making racially segregated public schools unconstitutional. Throughout its existence it was New Jersey’s only wholly state-supported Jim Crow school.

Between the late 1870s and the early twentieth century the modern black community was born; the structure and shape assumed by the community during this period have lasted essentially to the present day. Free blacks and former slaves became politically and culturally fused, black institutions were built on an unprecedented scale, blacks became more urban and increasingly residents of all-black neighborhoods, and blacks undertook greater self-help initiatives in order to survive the de facto and dejure debasement received from all levels of white society. Among the social and economic changes was a decline in the size and status of an entrepreneurial class (such as caterers and skilled artisans) dependent on a white clientele and the emergence of a class of professionals (such as doctors and lawyers) and businessmen (such as undertakers and storekeepers) that catered largely to the black community. African Americans also established certain kinds of enterprises for the first time. The most notable of these were banks (the first two were founded in 1888), realty associations, and insurance companies (the first was established in Mississippi in 1889, and the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company, currently the largest black insurance company, was established in 1905). Moreover, as blacks became more literate the black press flourished, and new organizations like the Greek-letter fraternities were founded (Alpha Phi Alpha in 1906 was the first). It was, however, the fraternal orders that enjoyed perhaps the most phenomenal success; through their “mutual aid” function, many served as incipient insurance companies. In the forefront of this growth were the Odd Fellows, the Masons, and the Knights of Pythias. In the religious realm the most striking development was the rise in the 1890s of pentecostal churches (Holiness, Sanctified), of which the Church of God in Christ, founded in Memphis, became the largest. It was through such churches, located mainly in the rural South, that certain slave religious practices rooted in African traditions (for example, shouts, hand-clapping, foot-stomping, and jubilee songs) were continued and expressed in forms of worship that included spirit possession, improvisatory singing, and the use of drums and other percussive instruments. Finally, the nation’s two oldest civil rights organizations were formed during this period. The previously mentioned NAACP, established in 1909 by blacks and white Progressives, used mainly litigation to win equal rights for African Americans. The Urban League was formed in 1911 to address the problems (notably employment and housing) that newly arrived black southern migrants encountered in northern cities.

African American women were very much in the vanguard of the struggle of the race against discrimination and oppression. Ida B. Wells-Barnett led anti-lynching campaigns and joined DuBois and others in organizing the NAACP. Mary Church Terrell established the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896 to protest disfranchisement and lynching. NACW’s formation gave impetus to the founding in 1915 of the New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, the oldest statewide New Jersey black women’s organization. The Federation’s founder and first president, the Reverend Florence Spearing Randolph, was an AME Zion minister who, beginning in 1925, guided the growth and development of the Wallace Chapel AME Zion Church in Summit.

Black women also had a presence in entrepreneurial activities. One outstanding example was Madame C.J. Walker, a native of Louisiana. Her cosmetology business, which catered to black women, began in 1905 in Saint Louis and moved in 1910 to Indianapolis, where its manufacturing plant ultimately employed three thousand persons. By the time of her death in 1919, Madame Walker had amassed a fortune of a million dollars. A second notable woman was Maggie Lena Walker of Richmond, Virginia. Having successfully managed a black mutual benefit society, in 1903 she founded and became president of the Saint Luke Penny Savings Bank; she was thus the nation’s first black woman bank president. The bank she established, which absorbed the other black banks in Richmond and became the Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, is the oldest continuously existing black- owned and black-operated bank in the nation. Both Walkers were known for their liberal contributions to African American philanthropic causes.



Although the emergence of Jim Crowism in the South and numerous acts of violence against blacks explain why the years between 1878 and 1915 are considered the nadir in American race relations, the modern black community also begins to take form during these years. Nationally, free blacks and former slaves come together to expand black institutional life as part of an effort to cope with the rising tide of racism.

Materials and Preparation

Students should read either chapters 19-23 in The African American Experience: A History (“Miners, Farmers, and Cowhands, 1849-1880,” “African Americans in the New South, 1877-1910,” “Living in the Jim Crow World, 1877-1910,” “Advances in Education, the Arts, and Sciences, 1877-1910,” and “The Civil Rights Struggle, 1900-1941”) or chapters 25-29 in African American History (“Segregation Upheld,” “Blacks Pushed Aside,” “Industry and the Black Worker,” “A School is Born,” and “The Liberation Movement”).

Students should read the excerpt from Washington’s address at the 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exposition and the excerpt from Dr. W.E.B. DuBois’s article “The Talented Tenth”. Students and the teacher should read pages 45-54 in Afro-Americans in New Jersey: A Short History.

The teacher should read chapters 14, 15, and 20 in From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (“Philanthropy and Self-Help,” “The Color Line,” and “The American Dilemma”).

Time Period

Each of the activities that follow will take one class period.



  1. Describe the key features of Jim Crow after it evolved as a system in the South. Lead the students in making a list of the areas of public and social life in the South that were segregated. Have the students indicate which form(s) of segregation they believe to have been the most harmful and most humiliating and why. Students, for example, might conclude that disfranchisement was the most harmful, while the refusal of service in public accommodations was probably the most humiliating. Or they might think that being forced to attend an all-black school was more onerous than being denied the vote.
  2. Evaluation: Have the students imagine they are late-nineteenth century journalists. Ask them to write a 500- word newspaper article about what they believe is the most humiliating Jim Crow practice in the South.


  1. Explain the ways in which blacks responded to the harsh conditions of racial segregation in the South from 1878 to 1915. Ask students to imagine they are blacks living in the South between 1878 and 1915. How would they respond to the racial segregation they faced? Would they speak out against laws of racial segregation and disobey them as did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950’s and 1960’s? or would they simply keep quiet and obey the laws and customs of the Jim Crow system? Would they try to leave the South? In responding to these questions the students should bear in mind the prevalence of anti-black violence during this period. For example, tell students that the greatest number of African Americans lynched in one year, 161, occurred in 1892.
  2. Evaluation: Have students research and write a 500-word essay that identifies three all-black communities (including Whitesboro) that were established between 1878 and 1915. The establishment of these communities should be seen in the context of black migration as a response to the difficulties of life under Jim Crowism.


  1. Differentiate between the approaches used by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois in fighting racial injustice. Point out to the students that these men differed, among other things, in the kind of education they advocated for black youths. Washington favored an education that prepared blacks to work with their hands, to learn a craft or trade such as masonry, plumbing, or carpentry from which they could ultimately start a business. DuBois, on the other hand, favored a classical education that would create the “talented tenth” from which the leadership of the black race would emerge. In light of conditions in the South at the end of the nineteenth century, have students indicate which of these approaches best served the needs of the black race. Divide the class into two groups, one representing the industrial education championed by Washington and the other the academic education desired by DuBois. Each group should present the merits of its type of education. In presenting their positions, have the groups read the excerpt from Washington’s famous address at the 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exposition and the excerpt from DuBois’s views on the “talented tenth”. This will enable each group to be more familiar with its own position and that of the opposing group. Also have both groups discuss the implications for southern black migration and protest of Washington’s repeated exhortation to “Cast down your bucket where you are.”
  2. Evaluation: Have the students write a play in which the main characters are Booker T. Washington and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois. Have the two men debate the issue of how best to educate black youth.

Supplemental Activities

  1. Have students read Norman L. Crockett’s The Black Towns (1979) and prepare a 500-word book report on it.
  2. Take students on a trip to Whitesboro, an all-black community established in 1899 in Cape May County.
  3. Show students the film Booker T. Washington, a documentary that treats the life of the outstanding race leader and educator who founded famed Tuskegee Institute (30 minutes). It can be obtained from The Black Filmmaker Foundation, 375 Greenwich Street, New York, New York 10013 (212-941-3944).
  4. Show students the film Two Dollars and A Dream, which explores the life of Madame C.J. Walker, whose success in producing and marketing cosmetic products for black women made her one of the most successful businesswomen of the early twentieth century (56 minutes). It can be obtained from the Filmmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016 (212-808-4980).
  5. Take students on a trip to Bordentown to visit the grounds of the old Bordentown School (New Jersey Manual Training and Industrial School for Colored Youth). Known as the “Tuskegee of the North,” it was New Jersey’s most important educational institution for black students.

Key Persons

Noble Drew Ali (nee Timothy Drew). A North Carolinian who migrated to Newark, where in 1913 he established the Moorish Science Temple, black America’s first major Muslim group.

W.E.B. Dubois. A founder of the Niagara Movement and the NAACP, this advocate of militant protest against racial injustice was the foremost black American intellectual from the 1890s until his death in 1963.

Florence Spearing Randolph. An ordained minister who helped build the Wallace Chapel Zion Church in Summit, she organized in 1915 the New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, the state’s oldest women’s organization.

Mary Church Terrell. She established the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 to protest disfranchisement and lynching.

Henry McNeal Turner. Bishop of the AME Church (1880-1892) and member of the Georgia legislature during Reconstruction (1868-1870), he was the leading advocate of emigration to Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Madame C.J. Walker. Based on her formula for treating the hair arid skin of black women, she became one of the most successful business women of the early twentieth century, amassing a fortune of a million dollars.

Maggie Lena Walker. A successful businesswoman in Richmond, Virginia, she was the first black woman to become president of a bank.

Booker T. Washington. The founder of Tuskegee Institute, he was the acknowledged black leader from 1895 until his death in 1915.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett. A fearless journalist who initiated the early antilynching campaign and helped found the NAACP.

George H. White. The founder of Whitesboro, he served in Congress from North Carolina until 1901; at his departure he was the last black congressman of the post-Reconstruction period.

Annotated Bibliography and Suggested Reading


Bogle, Donald, 1973. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks.
A study that examines the stereotypical and defiant black entertainers who performed in the movies and on the stage from the 1890s to 1970.
Cronon, Edmund David, 1955. Black Moses: The Story of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association.
The first major biography of the founder and leader of the largest black mass protest movement ever established in the United States.
Dickson, Bruce, 1989, Black American Writing From the Nadir: The Evolution of a Literary Tradition, 1877- 1915.
This book, in treating the work of writers like Frances E.W. Harper, Charles Chestnutt, Pauline Hopkins, Paul Laurence Dunbar, W.E.B. DuBois, and James Weldon Johnson, as well as a wide range of Iesser-known writers, sheds new light on the genesis of the mood that was expressed in the Harlem Renaissance.
DuBois, W.E.B. 1903. The Souls of Black Folk.
In providing a view of America’s race problem at the dawn of the century, Dubois writes about his belief in racial “twoness” and the black elite’s vanguard role in creating change for the race.
Frederickson, George. 1981. White Supremacy.
This is a groundbreaking comparison of the rise of racist dogma and policy in Jim Crow America and South Africa.
Harlan, Louis. 1972; 1983. Booker T. Washington, 2 vols.
Definitive biography of the southern black leader, showing the breadth of Washington’s influence.
Katz, William Loren. 1971. The Black West.
Illustrated, pioneering narrative of the role African Americans played in settling the American West. Black heroic accomplishments are highlighted.
Lewis, David Levering. 1993. W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography of Race, 1868-1919.
The award-winning first volume of a projected two-volume biography by a noted historian who places DuBois in a global setting. A model of narrative scholarship and the most detailed study yet of the great black scholar’s impact.
Logan, Rayford Whittingham. 1954. The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, 1877-1901.
An excellent study of the political, social, and economic difficulties that black Americans experienced during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
Meier, August. 1963. Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915.
This study explores the major trends in the thinking of black leaders of the period and focuses in particular on the contrasting positions of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois on a variety of issues.
Meier, August, and John H. Franklin, eds. 1982. Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century.
This outstanding collection of studies by white and black scholars includes the major male and female leaders of early-twentieth-century African American life.
Meier, August, and Leon Litwack, eds. 1988. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century.
This collection of biographies of African American activists of the nineteenth century is notable for its inclusion of rarely publicized leaders.
Morton-Neverdon, Cynthia. 1989. Afro-American Women of the South and the Advancement of the Race, 1895-1925.
A history of the major attempts of black women in five communities (Atlanta, Hampton, Tuskegee, Nashville, and Baltimore) to educate and improve the health of blacks, stamp out vice and immorality, and effect a rise in racial consciousness during the early part of the twentieth century.
Rabinowitz, Howard. 1978. Race Relations in the Urban South, 1865-1890.
The author explores the southern black’s attempts to avoid rural reminders of slavery through migration and industrial, commercial, political, and self-help opportunities in the southern city. White reactions are also examined.
Redkey, Edwin S. 1969. Black Exodus.
A fine study of African American internal movements and back-to- Africa efforts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Shapiro, Herbert. 1988. White Violence and Black Response.
A far-reaching study of racial tensions and their physical results. The author looks back into American history and demonstrates the varieties of black responses to white violence, from accommodation and avoidance to militant assertiveness.
Williamson, Joel. 1984. The Crucible of Race.
This volume examines the psychosexual, cultural, economic and political roots and dynamics of American racism during the Jim Crow period.
Woodward, C. Vann. 1974. The Strange Career of Jim Crow, 3rd ed.
Woodward explores the de facto and de jure worlds of the beginnings of racial segregation in the late nineteenth century.


Bundles, A’Lelia. 1991. Madame C.J. Walker: Entrepreneur.
Part of the Black Americans of Achievement series.
Crockett, Norman L. 1979. The Black Towns.
This study examines five all-black towns established between 1879 and 1904: Nicodemus, Kansas; Mound Bayou, Mississippi; Langston, Oklahoma; Cleat-view, Oklahoma; and Boley, Oklahoma. The rationale for such communities as articulated by their founders and supporters is also provided.
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. 1902. The Sport of the Gods.
This story is about the Hamiltons, a close-knit black family that moves from the South to New York City in the mid-1890s after the father has been unjustly convicted of a crime and sent to prison. The city exacts its toll on the family. The son, Joe, falls in with a fast crowd, becomes an alcoholic, and goes to prison for murder. When the father’s innocence is discovered, he is freed and he rescues his wife and returns to their small southern home town.
Durham, Philip, and Everett L. Jones. 1965. The Negro Cowboys.
A vivid account of the black cowboys and pioneers who migrated west before and after the Civil War.
Klots, Steve. 1994. Ida Wells-Barnett: Civil Rights Leader.
Part of the Black Americans of Achievement series.
Lester, Julius. 1972. Long Journey Home.
This book of historical fiction consists of six short stories featuring such characters as a runaway slave (Louis), a black cowboy (Bob Lemmons), and a couple separated by slavery (Jake and Mundy).
McKissack, Frederick and Patricia McKissack. 1990. W.E.B. DuBois.
This biography emphasizes the dedication, determination, disappointments, and triumphs of the great African American writer, educator, historian, sociologist, and journalist who was an intellectual and one of the most important civil rights leaders of the twentieth century.
Ritchie, Andrew. 1986. Major Taylor.
This is the dramatic story of Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, who, against enormous odds, in 1899 became a world champion cyclist and the first black American athlete to win a national title.
Schroeder, Alan. 1992. Booker T. Washington: Educator.
Part of the Black Americans of Achievement series.
Stafford, Mark. 1990. W.E.B. DuBois: Scholar and Activist.
Part of the Black Americans of Achievement series.
Washington, Booker T. 1900. Up From Slavery: An Autobiography.
This autobiography traces the upward path of its author from his slave origins to his position as the foremost African American leader and educator of his time.


Booker T. Washington– Excerpts from an address at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition (1895)

W.E.B. DuBois– “The Talented Tenth” .

Digitized by Deborah Mercer and Edith Beckett of the New Jersey State Library.
Copyright 2003 by the New Jersey Historical Commission,
New Jersey Department of State.
All rights reserved.
Please direct questions and comments to Deborah Mercer.
Updated:Friday, September 19, 2003