"The stain of Jim Crow runs deep in 20th-century America. . . . Its effects remain the nation's most pressing business. Trouble in Mind is an absolutely essential account of its dreadful history and calamitous legacy." --The Washington Post
"The most complete and moving account we have had of what the victims of the Jim Crow South suffered and somehow endured."
--C. Vann Woodward
In April 1899, black laborer Sam Hose killed his white boss in self-defense. Wrongly accused of raping the man's wife, Hose was mutilated, stabbed, and burned alive in front of 2,000 cheering whites. His body was sold piecemeal to souvenir seekers; an Atlanta grocery displayed his knuckles in its front window for a week.
With the same narrative skill he brought to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Been in the Storm So Long, Leon Litwack constructs a searing history of life under Jim Crow. Drawing on new documentation and first-person accounts by blacks and whites, he describes the injustices--both institutional and personal--inflicted against a people. Here, too, are the black men and women whose activism, literature, and music preserved the genius of their human spirit. Painstakingly researched, important, and timely, Trouble in Mind recalls the bloodiest and most repressive period in the history of race relations in the United States--and the painful record of discrimination that haunts us to this day.
"Moving, elegant, earthy and pointed. . . . It forces us to reckon with the tragic legacies of freedom as well as of slavery. And it reminds us of the resilience and creativity of the human spirit."
--Steven Hahn, The San Diego Union-Tribune
"A chilling reminder of how simple it has been for Americans to delude themselves about the power of race." --The Raleigh News & Observer
The name of the era, "Jim Crow," was somehow derived from an old minstrel song, but there was nothing frivolous about the laws and traditions used to keep blacks from participating in society in the post-Reconstruction South. Leon Litwack, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a noted authority on black history, has written a searing account of the age of Jim Crow in Trouble In Mind. The book is arranged in thematic chapters that show how blacks were restricted at every turn. Blacks were kept in perpetual debt, denied proper schooling, and were subjected to daily assaults on their dignity. Most disturbing was the institution of lynchings, the thousands of hangings and burnings that terrorized blacks in the South. Litwack documents how lynchings were carefully planned and attracted large crowds who viewed them as cathartic entertainment. Trouble In Mind deals with a long and sad chapter in American History, but Professor Litwack has written a laudable book which deserves to be read. Trouble In Mind is considered a sequel to Litwack's Been In the Storm So Long, a critically acclaimed account of Reconstruction which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History.