Stony the Road
Stony the Road
Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow
Henry Louis J r. Gates

Recommended by Paul

The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked "a new birth of freedom" in Lincoln's America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the “nadir” of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance.

Through his close reading of the visual culture of this tragic era, Gates reveals the many faces of Jim Crow and how, together, they reinforced a stark color line between white and black Americans. Bringing a lifetime of wisdom to bear as a scholar, filmmaker, and public intellectual, Gates uncovers the roots of structural racism in our own time, while showing how African Americans after slavery combatted it by articulating a vision of a “New Negro” to force the nation to recognize their humanity and unique contributions to America as it hurtled toward the modern age.

The story Gates tells begins with great hope, with the Emancipation Proclamation, Union victory, and the liberation of nearly 4 million enslaved African-Americans. Until 1877, the federal government, goaded by the activism of Frederick Douglass and many others, tried at various turns to sustain their new rights. But the terror unleashed by white paramilitary groups in the former Confederacy, combined with deteriorating economic conditions and a loss of Northern will, restored “home rule” to the South. The retreat from Reconstruction was followed by one of the most violent periods in our history, with thousands of black people murdered or lynched and many more afflicted by the degrading impositions of Jim Crow segregation.

An essential tour through one of America’s fundamental historical tragedies, Stony the Road is also a story of heroic resistance, as figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells fought to create a counter-narrative, and culture, inside the lion’s mouth. As sobering as this tale is, it also has within it the inspiration that comes with encountering the hopes our ancestors advanced against the longest odds.

“Stony the Road presents a bracing alternative to Trump-era white nationalism. . . . In our current politics we recognize African-American history — the spot under our country’s rug where the terrorism and injustices of white supremacy are habitually swept. Stony the Road lifts the rug. . . . essential . . . a history that very much needs telling and hearing in these times.”—Nell Irvin Painter, New York Times Book Review

“[A] luminous history of Reconstruction, and the savage white backlash that derailed it. . . . Few authors approach such difficult history with the unblinking clarity of Gates, the esteemed Harvard professor, historian, and scholar . . . If anyone wants to understand how the groundbreaking election of Barack Obama as this nation’s first black president was answered with Donald Trump’s feral white nationalism, Gates has provided a road map.”—The Boston Globe

“Concise, powerful . . . an important addition to America’s evolving view of its own history.”–The Economist

Title Stony the Road
Subtitle Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow
Author Henry Louis J r. Gates
Publisher Penguin Press, The
Title First Published 02 April 2019
Format Hardcover
Nb of pages
ISBN-10 0525559531
ISBN-13 9780525559535
Publication Date 02 April 2019
Weight 32 oz.

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