1.

In some of the larger cities of the American South there are still signs reading "White Only" painted on the doorways or windows of restaurants and laundries. Dingy clapboard barrooms have painted arrows, usually part of the advertising on the building front, reading "Colored Entrance," the arrow pointing to a back door or to a service window in the side of the building. At hospital entrances there are ornate metal letters reading "Out Patient Dispensary - Colored" and "Out Patient Dispensary - White." The doors are separate. In the smaller towns there usually aren't so many signs; except for the benches under the shade of an overhanging store marquee or at a bus stop. Someone who didn't know the town well, someone perhaps in from a nearby farm for some shopping, might get the benches confused. Sometimes drinking fountains are marked, and gasoline station rest rooms, but there usually isn't much need for signs; since the' townspeople, white and colored, know every street and every store front and every foot of pavement, and their own place on it. If someone stops in the town he's expected to look around and find where the color line has been drawn. In northern cities the line is less definite, and the emotional response is less intense if the line is' crossed, but within every neighborhood some blocks are colored and others white. Even with an increased range of employment opening more and more to young colored men and women, with neighborhood restrictions being slowly pushed aside, and with educational opportunities steadily increasing, the line despite its seeming vagueness and lack of official sanction, is still tightly drawn. The life of the Negro and the life of his white neighbor is still separate and apart, and despite recent social progress will remain separate for many years to come.

The life of the Negro in America has been so completely lived on the other side of the racial line that it is only with difficulty that white and colored can even understand each other's social attitudes. The Negro has been deprived of any large part in American life, despite the hundred years that have passed since the Civil War ended southern slavery. The inequality of opportunity, social and economic, is so extreme that a sensitive young Negro

-7-

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The Poetry of the Blues
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Introduction 5
  • 1 7
  • 2 11
  • 3 27
  • 4 35
  • 5 43
  • 6 67
  • 7 80
  • 8 98
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