Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1920

Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., Author Indiana University Press $43.5 (450p) ISBN 978-0-253-32552-5
Members of America's ``colored aristocracy'' or ``Black Four Hundred'' viewed themselves as superior to other blacks in culture, sophistication, wealth and achievement. Flourishing in such cities as New Orleans, Washington, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia particularly during the 40 years following the end of Reconstruction, these mostly light-skinned black Americans were sometimes accused of being snobbish, color-conscious and self-serving. Yet, as University of Arkansas historian Gatewood points out, this group had figured prominently in the abolitionist movement and supported reform crusades. Their ultimate failure, according to Gatewood, lay in their misperception that they could win for the black masses an acceptance and toleration which they believed that they themselves were coming to enjoy. This fascinating, engaging study breaks new ground in analyzing class divisions and the precarious position of an elite perched between black and white worlds. Photos. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Vinyl-bound - 1512 pages - 978-1-56956-040-2
Paperback - 978-0-253-20850-7
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-1-55728-593-5
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