Academic journal article The Historian

Making Black History: The Color Line, Culture, and Race in the Age of Jim Crow

Academic journal article The Historian

Making Black History: The Color Line, Culture, and Race in the Age of Jim Crow

Article excerpt

Making Black History: The Color Line, Culture, and Race in the Age of Jim Crow. By Jeffrey Aaron Snyder. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2018. Pp. ix, 243. $26.95.)

The author of this concise book ambitiously describes his study as constituting the "first extended account" of how the early black history movement, trail-blazed by Carter G. Woodson, "reflected, refracted, and sometimes even shaped broader trends in African American thought and culture" (1-2).

For Snyder, it is important to understand how Woodson and his Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) coworkers--in various public spaces and with many different approaches--propagated, construed, discussed, performed, and memorialized black history. In his estimation, during the era of Jim Crow segregation, the association was a largely apolitical, integrationist-minded, and racial uplift organization that espoused a pragmatic and vindicationist brand of black history. For him, it was ultimately guided by a trilogy of preoccupations: the color line, culture, and race. These issues, he notes, were "nearly always implicated in the association's work" (12).

The author subdivides Woodson's, the association's, and a group of black scholars' work into three major periods: 1915-1926, 1922-1941, and 1942-1956. In addition to an introduction as well as a brief epilogue, Making Black History is subdivided into three distinct parts with two interconnected chapters per section.

In the opening chapter, the author overviews Woodson's early scholarly life and work as well as the formative years of the ASNLH. The most original argument here is that Woodson's presence at the Lincoln Jubilee in Chicago in 1915 "was one of the first efforts to promote black history to a wider audience" (33). …

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