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The Rural Face of White Supremacy

The Rural Face of White Supremacy: Beyond Jim Crow

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 336
  • Book Info
    The Rural Face of White Supremacy
    Book Description:

    Mark Schultz entered rural Hancock County expecting to confirm the standard expectations about race relations in the South, an area characterized by frequent lynchings, systematic segregation, and universal black poverty. What he found undermined and confounded his sweeping assumptions about the ostensibly "solid" South. _x000B_The Rural Face of White Supremacy is a detailed study of the daily experiences of ordinary people in rural Hancock County, Georgia. Drawing on his own interviews with over two hundred black and white residents, Schultz depicts the rhythms of work, social interaction, violence, power, and paternalism in a setting much different from the more widely studied postbellum urban South. _x000B_By acting on the basis of personal rather than institutional relationships, Schultz argues, Hancock County residents experienced more fluid interactions and more freedom than their urban counterparts had. This freedom created a space for interracial relationships that included mixed housing, midwifery, church services, meals, and even common-law marriages. _x000B_These relationships were both intimate and hierarchical and marked by personal, sexual, and economic violence; more important, they were far more complex than the conveniently efficient and modern ideal of Jim Crow. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09236-7
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvii)
  6. Introduction: A Place in Time
    (pp. 1-12)

    WE LEARN BEST about history through an ongoing dialogue between two approaches: on the one hand, overarching regional and national studies drawn from generalized sources, such as census reports and major newspapers; on the other, narrow, local, more highly textured studies. Unlike historians of the rural West and North and even the urban South, who have produced large numbers of local studies, historians of the rural South have undervalued local history—especially that of the first half of the twentieth century.¹ This study employs oral history to examine regional patterns of race relations as they took shape in one county....

  7. 1 “Friendship Was Better than Money”
    (pp. 13-43)

    ONE DAY IN 1936 thirteen-year-old Carlton Morse was at school with his brothers and sisters. His family—black—worked on shares for a white Hancock planter. Midway through the schoolday a brother who had stayed home sick arrived with a note for Carleton to give his teacher. Before he delivered it, curiosity nudged him to open the note. It said simply that the Morse children needed to be excused from class. At home he learned why: the landlord had told his father that “the children didn’t have time to go to school. The bushes needed cutting. Take them out.” That...

  8. 2 The Other Rural Workers: Landowning and Working for Cash
    (pp. 44-65)

    MANY SHARECROPPERS HOPED that sharecropping would be a transitional stage—a rung on a ladder that would eventually lead to greater economic independence and possibly landownership. It usually didn’t work out that way. Mary Worthening’s father, a black Hancock County farmer, worked hard his entire life and never progressed beyond sharecropping. According to Worthening, whenever he made a good crop and his prospects rose, a planter would confiscate his crop, leaving him back at the bottom. He moved regularly, hoping to improve his condition, but the rungs kept breaking under his feet. For most, according to rural sociologist Anthony Tang,...

  9. 3 Beyond Segregation: The Outlines of Interracial Social Relations in Rural Hancock
    (pp. 66-96)

    RACE RELATIONS IN rural Hancock County contrast sharply with our dominant image of a solidly segregated South. There, in the 1920s, it was possible to participate in an interracial social world. Children and adults could find interracial company in which to play sports, fish, hunt, or talk. On Sundays, and especially during week-long revivals in the late summer and fall, one could attend white churches with black visitors or black churches with white visitors. One might expect to participate in neighborly assistance networks irrespective of race in times of sickness, injury, or death.

    How could this interracial social world exist...

  10. 4 The Solid South and the Permissive South
    (pp. 97-130)

    NONSEGREGATED RURAL RESIDENTIAL patterns in the age of Jim Crow led to many forms of interracial intimacy. Some, such as the play of children, are quite well known to historians, even if they have been less well examined. The interracial recreation of rural adults has been occasionally noted, although it has been even less well studied. There were, however, many other points of social contact between black and white rural southerners that seem more surprising inasmuch as the overwhelming majority of white southerners were unquestionably invested in white supremacy. The deeply personal experiences of birth, illness, and death brought black...

  11. Photographs
    (pp. None)
  12. 5 Race, Violence, and Power in a Personal Culture
    (pp. 131-174)

    THROUGHOUT AMERICAN HISTORY, violence and the threat of violence have been the ultimate means by which European Americans have subordinated African Americans. Violence was, of course, the cornerstone on which slavery was built. After the Civil War white northerners and southerners alike used it to repulse African Americans from desirable jobs and neighborhoods and to deprive them the exercise of their civil rights. White southerners in particular employed it to throw down Reconstruction, to secure the region’s inequitable labor system, and to maintain regular observance of the social etiquette of submission and dominance.¹

    In rural Hancock County the palpable threat...

  13. 6 Paternalism and Patronage: Public Power in a Personal Culture
    (pp. 175-204)

    In 1910 this brief message in theSparta Ishmaelitenotified the people of Hancock County that Eli Barnes had passed away—and with him, their link to an earlier era in which African Americans had been public, independent actors. After having helped shape the course of government in the 1860s and again in the 1890s, the African Americans of Hancock County had essentially lost their citizenship, and Representative Barnes was merely a “dead Negro.” In losing independent political power, they had lost all claim to legal protection. In losing legal protection, they had lost leverage for economic security. Along with...

  14. Epilogue: The Rise of “Public Work”
    (pp. 205-224)

    HANCOCK COUNTY turned a significant corner after World War II. Good roads and telephone lines broke into the once-isolated rural communities of rural Hancock, altering them and carrying people away, pulling them toward centers both residentially and culturally. The schoolyear continued to expand, first for whites and then for blacks, arming young people with improved resources for competing in urban job markets. The most significant aspect of this transformation, however, was the destruction of the South’s low-wage economy in the 1940s and the collapse of the traditional laborintensive cotton culture.

    When speaking of their work histories, Hancock people often refer...

  15. Appendix A: Methods
    (pp. 225-234)
  16. Appendix B: Interviews
    (pp. 235-238)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 239-294)
  18. General Index
    (pp. 295-302)
  19. Interviewee Index
    (pp. 303-306)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 307-308)