Historian Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore examines an unfamiliar world in this groundbreaking study, the world of middle-class, educated black women at a time that was one of the nadirs of black-white relations in America. With the Supreme Court's affirmation of legal segregation, Southern black men found themselves disfranchised and excluded from politics. Black women filled that vacuum, Gilmore argues, making a place for themselves as ambassadors to the white community, and as activists on behalf of blacks, and bequeathing to their descendants a heritage of resistance that culminated in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.
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From Library Journal
In this extensively documented history, Gilmore (history, Yale) examines the imposition of legally mandated segregation in North Carolina at the turn of the century. African Americans had achieved significant success in that state even after the end of Reconstruction, and Gilmore argues that the incentive for segregation emerged in response to that success and to the stirrings of independence of white women. Vilification of the black man as a sexual predator served the twin purposes of banishing potential economic and political rivals and restricting the ambition of white women. This focus, however, provided an opportunity for black women to play the role of "diplomat" to the white community and to initiate a small measure of interracial cooperation. Although well written, this densely detailed exposition will attract a chiefly academic audience.?Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, D.C.
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