Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Non-Fiction

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Non-Fiction

Article excerpt

Title: Keeping the Faith: Race, Politics, and Social Development in Jacksonville, Florida, 1940-1970

Author: Abel A. Bartley

Data: Greenwood Publishing Group, 208 pages, $59.95

Review by Ann Hyman

The years between World War II and consolidation were a shifting time of both accommodation and confrontation between the races in Jacksonville.

Abel A. Bartley, a Jacksonville native -- Terry Parker High School, class of '83 -- who is now a professor of African American and Urban History at the University of Akron, examines those years in a book that mixes the charts and lists and footnotes of dry academia with rich glimpses of the city and the citizens when most blacks and whites led separate lives. There were wealthy black people, wealthy white people; separate social scenes; a black middle class, a white middle class; separate places of worship and places of entertainment.

In a sense, Bartley observes, the separateness of the times obscured the lines of influence and cooperation where they came together.

In other words, there was more going on than met the eye.

Bartley calls these areas of cooperation "informal alliances."

As in all alliances, they were made and endured for mutual benefit.

The analysis of Haydon Burns' 16-year reign as mayor of the city, beginning with his election in 1949, is an example of Bartley's insight.

"Burns built a broad-based political coalition made up of Blacks and middle-class Whites. Using discretion and carefully avoiding media attention, Burns made cautious overtures to Black leaders. Blacks responded to him because of Burns' willingness to negotiate with them. Burns developed a political rapport with important Black leaders which he converted into political support. . . . His mayoral tenure testified to his political savvy and ability to attract mass support. For most of that period Burns maintained the White community's respect without losing the African-American vote, an incredible feat considering the social, political and racial climate," Bartley writes. …

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