The Dance of Freedom: Texas African Americans during Reconstruction

The Dance of Freedom: Texas African Americans during Reconstruction

The Dance of Freedom: Texas African Americans during Reconstruction

The Dance of Freedom: Texas African Americans during Reconstruction

Synopsis

This anthology brings together the late Barry A. Crouch's most important articles on the African American experience in Texas during Reconstruction. Grouped topically, the essays explore what freedom meant to the newly emancipated, how white Texans reacted to the freed slaves, and how Freedmen's Bureau agents and African American politicians worked to improve the lot of ordinary African American Texans. The volume also contains Crouch's seminal review of Reconstruction historiography, "Unmanacling Texas Reconstruction: A Twenty-Year Perspective." The introductory pieces by Arnoldo De Leon and Larry Madaras recapitulate Barry Crouch's scholarly career and pay tribute to his stature in the field of Reconstruction history.

Excerpt

From Barry A. Crouch, I learned that persons could be paid for something they would do for free. Crouch taught at Angelo State University during the last years of the 1960s, when I was attending there as an undergraduate. He prized teaching, whether at Angelo State or the several other universities where he worked. Equally dear to him were research and writing. After his classroom duties ended, he would spend hours working on his dissertation or preparing articles for publication. His passion infected me, and over the years I've come to marvel that the academy pays me as a professor for working at something I would do for sheer personal and intellectual gratification.

Mr. Crouch was no older than twenty-eight in 1969, when I enrolled in his class titled The Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction. I was twenty-four, just two years out of the military, and pursuing, at most, a BA in history so I could have a life better than the one I had left behind as the son of South Texas farm laborers. The quality of instruction at small colleges, I have found over the years, matches that at any name university, and that judgment certainly applied to Crouch's abilities. To me, at least, he was a captivating lecturer (I am told he was equally stimulating when signing at Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University), where he spent the greater portion of his career) who did more than narrate the historical events that led to the Civil War and laid the groundwork for Reconstruction. He vigorously denounced the tradition, originating in the works of William Archibald Dunning, that depicted white southerners as helpless victims of Radical Republicans and made villains of the freedmen, scalawags, and carpetbaggers. More exciting to me were his digressions into the field of research, about which he spoke with equal zeal. The way he told it, historians had a duty and responsibility not only to teach, but also to dedicate themselves to research. The title of “scholar” was not to be used . . .

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