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Here Lies Jim Crow

Paperback
, 344 pages

24 halftones

ISBN:
9781421407654
August 2012
$25.00

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Here Lies Jim Crow

Civil Rights in Maryland

Though he lived throughout much of the South—and even worked his way into parts of the North for a time—Jim Crow was conceived and buried in Maryland. From Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s infamous decision in the Dred Scott case to Thurgood Marshall’s eloquent and effective work on Brown v. Board of Education, the battle for black equality is very much the story of Free State women and men.

Here, Baltimore Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith recounts that tale through the stories, words, and deeds of famous, infamous, and little-known Marylanders. He traces the roots of Jim Crow laws from Dred Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson and describes the parallel and opposite early efforts of those who struggled to establish freedom and basic rights for African Americans. Following the historical trail of evidence, Smith relates latter-day examples of Maryland residents who trod those same steps, from the thrice-failed attempt to deny black people the vote in the early twentieth century to nascent demonstrations for open access to lunch counters, movie theaters, stores, golf courses, and other public and private institutions—struggles that occurred decades before the now-celebrated historical figures strode onto the national civil rights scene. Smith's lively account includes the grand themes and the state’s major players in the movement—Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, and Lillie May Jackson, among others—and also tells the story of the struggle via several of Maryland’s important but relatively unknown men and women—such as Gloria Richardson, John Prentiss Poe, William L. "Little Willie" Adams, and Walter Sondheim—who prepared Jim Crow’s grave and waited for the nation to deliver the body.

C. Fraser Smith writes a column for the Baltimore Sun and serves as a political analyst for Baltimore's National Public Radio station, WYPR. He is the author of William Donald Schaefer: A Political Biography, also published by Johns Hopkins.

"While the book elaborates on Maryland's role in the beginning and end of the Jim Crow era, the most compelling aspect of the book is the stories Smith gleaned from dozens of interviews with Marylanders, black and white, who lived with segregation and fought to end its practices."

"Hand it to your students... and make sure their parents read it, too. It's a road map of America's long political struggle from slavery to a black man running for president."

"It's a darned good book by a darned good writer. Those of you who love fine writing and history can't afford to pass on Here Lies Jim Crow."

"In this case, you can judge a book by its cover... it sets the tone for Smith's spirited discussion of Jim Crow laws and the efforts of Marylanders to resist and overturn them."

"By its very nature a moving but difficult and painful read. Painful or not, it is a book that helps one see present-day Maryland with a greater depth of understanding, and is certainly worth whatever discomfort it creates."

"Tells the story of the long life and hard death of racial segregation in the Free State."

"This engaging narrative highlights important episodes in Maryland's history not likely widely known and appreciated and provides insight into key moments and personalities in the history of civil rights in the state."

"I just finished your book Here Lies Jim Crow. It should be a high school text book. Congratulations on telling a very important story and doing it so well."

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