Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville

Article excerpt

To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville. By Robert Cassanello. (Gainesville and other cities: University Press of Florida, 2013. Pp. [xvi], 188. $74.95, ISBN 978-0-8130-4419-4.)

Robert Cassanello creatively combines an analysis of the public sphere with an exploration of the Jim Crow South in this first book-length exploration of African Americans in Jacksonville, Florida, from the Civil War to the 1920s. He provides a nuanced examination of how African Americans used private and public spaces to contest and resist the white-dominated social, political, and economic structure.

Drawing on the theories of Jurgen Habermas, Henri Lefebvre, and David Harvey on the intersection of the public sphere with public spaces for his theoretical framework, Cassanello also builds on the work of Michael C. Dawson and feminist scholars to reveal how African Americans developed a counterpublic that was both partially successful and increasingly thwarted in attempts to improve racial conditions.

To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville undertakes an ambitious thematic approach as well by covering the Civil War and Reconstruction, labor activism, racial violence, churches, schools, and woman suffrage. Like R. Volney Riser in Defying Disfranchisement: Black Voting Rights Activism in the Jim Crow South, 1890-1908 (Baton Rouge, 2010), Cassanello reveals that black participation in electoral politics continued to occur in significant ways after the end of Reconstruction in part because of political party competition. Other particularly interesting sections include an examination of how black Civil War soldiers resisted mistreatment at the hands of the military and how African Americans formed "counter-mob[s]" to stop lynchings (p. 63). In these ways and others, this book fits within the ever-growing body of scholarship that emphasizes agency as opposed to victimization of African Americans in the Jim Crow South.

For those looking for a study that situates the story of African Americans in Jacksonville within the larger context of African American history, including the historiography of the city, the Jim Crow South, the black freedom struggle, and the woman suffrage movement, this book is lacking. …

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