Gender & Jim Crow: Book Review

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In Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore's book Gender & Jim Crow, Gilmore illustrates the relations between African Americans and white in North Caroline from 1896 to 1920, as well as relations between the men and women of the time. She looks at the influences each group had on the Progressive Era, both politically and socially. Gilmore's arguments concern African American male political participation, middle-class New South men, and African American female political influences. The book follows a narrative progression of African American progress and relapse.

Gilmore argues that African American male political participation between 1890 and 1898 represented a movement toward greater inclusion. She claims that African American males in politics strove for the balance of power between political parties in North Carolina, and that the Populist-Republican victory in 1896 kept African American votes in contention and maintained some African American men in political office for a short period of time. There was an agreement between African Americans and whites that the "Best Men," middle class African Americans, were to be the only African Americans to hold office. This was because by being dubbed the "Best Men," they had met certain standards and were suitable for office according to the white politicians. The "Best Men" clashed with the South's "New White Man," who sought to re-monopolize voting rights and political power, as well as to completely dominate African Americans. Gilmore attributes the "New White Man's" goals to these men's bitterness towards their fathers who were blamed for the defeat in the Civil War, southern underdevelopment, and black progress. Nonetheless, African American men rapidly increased power in politics when many positions became publicly elected.

Gilmore reasons that the progress of African American men in politics caused upwardly mobile and middle-class New South men, Southern Progressives, to formulate disenfranchisement and Jim...
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