Hallelujah Times

Eric Foner

  • A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland by Sydney Nathans
    Harvard, 313 pp, £23.95, February 2017, ISBN 978 0 674 97214 8

Between 1910 and 1930, more than a million black Americans moved from the rural South to industrial cities north of the Mason-Dixon line. Refugees fleeing grinding poverty, political disenfranchisement, inadequate education and the ever present threat of violence (a comprehensive system of white supremacy known by the shorthand Jim Crow), they found employment on the bottom rungs of the burgeoning industrial economy. Despite pervasive prejudice in the North, the migrants spoke of a second emancipation, of crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land.

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[*] Basic, 560 pp., £13.99, October 2016, 978 0 465 04966 0.