Jim Crow

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C. Vann Woodward’s book The Strange Career of Jim Crow is a close look at the struggles of the African American community from the time of Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement. The book portrays a scene where the Negroes are now free men after being slaves on the plantations and their adaptation to life as being seen as free yet inferior to the White race and their hundred year struggle of becoming equals in a community where they have always been seen as second class citizens.

To really understand the motivation of C. Vann Woodward’s motives of his book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, one must look at Mr. Woodward’s life. Comer Vann Woodward was born and raised in Vanndale, AK in Cross County on November 13, 1908. The town was named after his mother’s aristocratic family. He attended Henderson- Brown College in Arkadelphia, AK for two years before transferring to Emory University in Atlanta, GA in 1930, where he graduated. He received his PHD in history at the University of North Carolina and after he took graduate classes at Columbia University where he was introduced and influenced by the Harlem Renaissance. Woodward taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1946-61 and at Yale University from 1961-67. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for Mary Chestnut’s Civil War and won the Bancroft Prize for Origins of the New South*. It was when he was teaching at Johns Hopkins when he wrote the book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow.

It was during the court ruling of Brown vs Board of Education in 1954 that Woodward started his lectures, which lead to his book, at the University of Virginia. His audience was more or less surprised about the race relations of the old south during reconstruction; most thought that the two races have always been separated with hatred.

Woodward argues that the Jim Crow laws of the 1890s were a new concept of separating the two races. Throughout slavery and during the reconstruction period, the two races were fully integrated...
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