Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Price of Rebellion in Jim Crow South

This is an exceptionally moving story about Jim Crow south that students might enjoy during coverage of the 60's.  Thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein for sending me the link.

By 1963, Danville, Va., last capital of the Confederacy and where Jefferson Davis met his cabinet after fleeing Richmond, became a Jim Crow town.  Schools remained segregated nine years after the Supreme Court ordered them desegregated. Police put down black protest with particular brutality. 

Tess Taylor, in a article for the New York Times, explains how her grandfather, a mill worker, downed some bourbon and fired off a letter to the judge who had sentenced over 300 protesters, who had been badly beaten to fines and hard labor. She recounts how her grandfather, with four children to raise, apologized to the judge.  But that did little good. He never got a promotion from the mill in which he worked all his life.  Ms. Taylor does not see her grandfather as a hero.  She says: "when we look back on our troubled histories, especially at the distance of 50 years, we might like to imagine that we would be Skeeter Phelan, the character in “The Help,” or an abolitionist. My grandfather’s story recalls the painful complexity of oppressive regimes not only to those they oppress most directly but to anyone who dares to question them at all."

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