About the Author

Katherine Mellen Charron is an Associate Professor of History at North Carolina State University. She is the author of the award-winning Freedom's Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark (UNC Press, 2009), and the co-editor of Recollections of My Slavery Days by William Henry Singleton (1999). Her teaching and research interests include African American, Women's, and Southern history.

Jim Crow Segregation: The Difficult and Anti-Democratic Work of White Supremacy

Secondary Sources

Gilmore, Glenda Elizabeth. Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. Gilmore documents the experiences of Southern African American men and women from disenfranchisement to passage of the 19th Amendment. Focusing on the black professional class, she convincingly argues that after black men lost the right to vote, black women stepped in as "racial diplomats" who negotiated with white officials to secure funding and resources for the black community. Gilmore's broad definition of politics underscores the many methods of resistance used by African Americans as Jim Crow became law.

Kelley, Blair L.M. Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. Kelley reexamines the struggles against segregated transportation, beginning with New York in the 1850s and moving south to Richmond, Savannah, and New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of Kelley's main interventions lies in showing working-class black women's predominance among protesters in the streetcar boycott movement, thereby challenging the view that only the black professional class initiated and led such actions. Equally important is her discussion of how Plessy resulted from community organizing in New Orleans, which provides very useful insights for teaching that are completely unexamined in textbooks.

Litwack, Leon F. Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. Litwack's synthesis history includes many anecdotes and stories that can be used for teaching. Exhaustively researched and organized topically, it focuses on the imposition of segregation, white brutality, and survival strategies deployed by African Americans, with particular attention to black institutions and culture. Among the book's many strengths is its attention to rural life.

Smith, John David. When Did Southern Segregation Begin? New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002. Smith's concise volume introduces readers to the major debates among historians regarding how race relations evolved in the post-Civil War era and resulted in the creation of de jure segregation. A lengthy introduction prepares readers to evaluate excerpts from the work of C. Vann Woodward, Joel Williamson, Edward L. Ayers, Howard N. Rabinowitz, Barbara Y. Welke, and Leon F. Litwack. Topics include the interplay of laws and customs, why railroads became sites of contest, the role of gender in rail travel, and how segregation re-inscribed racial subordination.

Smith, Lillian. Killers of the Dream. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1994. Originally published in 1949, this work conveys the crippling mental, emotional, and spiritual legacies of growing up in the Jim Crow South. A white woman and native to the region, Smith reflects on her childhood and segregation’s psychological costs and moral consequences. Her critical insights also speak to enduring problems of white supremacy and white privilege and their effects on race relations in the nation.

Sugrue, Thomas J. Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North. New York: Random House, 2008. Spanning the 1920s through the present, Sugrue's political history insists that we cannot fully understand the civil rights movement without adequate attention to struggles north of the Mason-Dixon Line. As he observes in the introduction, in both North and South, “private behavior, market practices, and public policies created and reinforced racial separation” (xv). Sugrue defines politics broadly to include protest, voting, racial violence, activities at the grassroots and among intellectuals and journalists, litigation, and policy making.

Sullivan, Patricia. Lift Every Voice and Sing: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: The New Press, 2009. Sullivan's study, published at the NAACP's centennial, documents the organization’s founding and history through the Brown decision. She moves deftly through time and between the North and the South, high politics and the grassroots. Along the way, readers meet both familiar and lesser known African American and white activists, and gain a better understanding of the NAACP's strategies, successes, and shortcomings.