Of Jim Crow Old and New
This book tells the stories of eleven scholars and the times that produced them. The introduction and interview-essays highlight the interrelationship between individual biographies, the racist structure of early twentiethcentury societies, and the historical circumstances of their development. Unsurprisingly, their biographies reveal broad similarities and striking differences in lives lived in the shadow of the race mountain. 1 The narratives also illustrate four types of critical intellectual engagement forged during the first half of the twentieth century to confront racism and racist policies. John G. Jackson and John Henrik Clarke represent the community scholars, whose primary interest was grassroots education in the communities in which they lived and worked. Frank Snowden Jr., John Hope Franklin, and St. Clair Drake are the university scholars, whose work focused on challenging the racism of their disciplines and the academy. The activities of Robert C. Weaver, Hylan Lewis, and Kenneth B. Clark aimed to redirect the activities of states and structures of power toward mediating racial and social inequalities. W. E. B. Du Bois, Herbert Aptheker, and A. Sivanandan reworked Marxist tools of analysis and political practice for black and Third World people. In this chapter, we revisit the stories to attempt three tasks: to compare and contrast the scholars on the basis of our framework of questions; to tease out the key themes from that evaluation of challenges to the old Jim Crow; and finally, to consider the challenges of the postindustrial Jim Crow.
The interviews were structured around five main areas. In terms of the scholars' biographies, we were primarily interested in the influence of their families and communities, and the events and experiences that led them to careers in scholarship and activism. 2 We also wanted to examine