cover image The South: Jim Crow and Its Afterlives

The South: Jim Crow and Its Afterlives

Adolph L. Reed Jr. Verso, $24.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-83976-626-8

Reed (Without Justice for All), a civil rights activist and professor emeritus of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, interweaves memoir and political analysis in this trenchant history of the Jim Crow South. Born in the Bronx, Reed moved with his parents in the late 1950s to Pine Bluff, Ark., and then to New Orleans, where he attended high school. As a middle-class Black youth, Reed recognized that he was somewhat shielded from the “everyday indignities and atrocities” of Jim Crow. While his family and other “respectable” Black people benefited from advanced education and membership in “an elaborate structure of social clubs,” the rural sharecropper children he went to school with were forced to miss months of school during planting season. Reed movingly reflects on how the rules of segregation varied from place to place, causing him to fear as a boy that he might become the next Emmett Till, and vividly evokes 1960s New Orleans, describing the local landmarks and lunch counters he favored and taking note of the “phenotypic gumbo” of south Louisiana, where “passing” as white “was often a straightforwardly pragmatic phenomenon.” His emotional description of the removal of New Orleans’s Confederate monuments in 2017 underscores the racial progress that was unfathomable to him as a young man. This spare, earnest recollection shines a unique light on the fight for racial equality in America. (Feb.)