Jessica Ingram: When Justice Will Never Come

Today we welcome a guest post from Jessica Ingram, author of Road Through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorialavailable now from UNC Press.

At first glance, Jessica Ingram’s landscape photographs could have been made nearly anywhere in the American South: a fenced-in backyard, a dirt road lined by overgrowth, a field grooved with muddy tire prints. These seemingly ordinary places, however, were the sites of pivotal events during the civil rights era, though often there is not a plaque with dates and names to mark their importance. Many of these places are where the bodies of activists, mill workers, store owners, sharecroppers, children and teenagers were murdered or found, victims of racist violence. Images of these places are interspersed with oral histories from victims’ families and investigative journalists, as well as pages from newspapers and FBI files and other ephemera.

In this post, Ingram considers how we remember victims of racist violence when their killers have never been brought to justice.

Road Through Midnight is now available in print and ebook editions.

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When Justice Will Never Come

In 1966, Klan members firebombed civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer’s home in Kelly Settlement, near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, gravely injuring Dahmer and his wife (Dahmer died a few days later). Dahmer’s murderer, Samuel Bowers, was tried five times in the 1960s without a conviction; he was convicted in 1998 on new evidence gathered by investigative journalist Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. Though the delayed justice is at the least bittersweet, there may be some benefits in obtaining contemporary guilty verdicts. In a conversation I had with Vernon Dahmer Jr. in 2009, he said, “In a way, that may have been better, because if he had been convicted in the 1960s, he never would have served any time. He would have walked in the front door and right out the back door.”

Memorial for Vernon Dahmer Sr. erected by his wife, Ellie, at the sire of his store and home, Kelly Settlement, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 2009.

Over the years, several cases have been reopened and the perpetrators sentenced: the killer of Medgar Evers; the killers of Vernon Dahmer; of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner; and of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee. Journalists and the Department of Justice turned back to cold cases that had the possibility of resulting in a conviction and often put aside the cases with murkier files, double-jeopardy restrictions, and murderers and witnesses who had died.

One such case that has little such hope is the 1964 murder of Frank Morris, the owner of a shoe repair shop in Ferriday, Louisiana. Stanley Nelson, an investigative journalist at Ferriday’s local paper, the Concordia Sentinel, writes about local victims of civil rights–era racial violence in an effort to keep their memories alive in the community. Nelson has written often about Frank Morris, specifically about who Morris was and his importance to the community. When I interviewed him for this project, he said, “I felt that it was important to put a real face on Frank Morris, because he was admirable. He was a kind of guy you are supposed to embrace in your communities and protect. We had not lifted a finger for Frank. So I wanted people to understand who he was, and you have to write about that a lot to get them over the nervousness of this race issue or anything involving civil rights.” He emphasized, “I also felt that if the newspaper, and at this newspaper, me, if we didn’t try to find out what happened, who would? Nobody else was in a position to do it . . . . I felt like it was our responsibility. It would have been immoral to walk away from it.” Nelson is now doing the same for Joseph “JoeEd” Edwards, a porter at the Shamrock Motor Hotel in Vidalia, Louisiana, who disappeared on the night of July 12, 1964, and whose body has never been found.

Site of Frank Morris’s shoe shop, Ferriday, Louisiana, 2018.

For individuals who lost their lives to racist violence and resistance to that violence whose cases cannot be brought to justice, the imperative is how do we remember them as a society and within communities. I was always amazed that family members of those murdered during the civil rights era would share their stories with me and open up these wounds. What stays with me still is their generosity in sharing what they experienced. There is a continued sense of urgency to share this knowledge. While the urgency to convict the killers from civil rights–era cases has lessened over the last decade as so many have now died, the need to visit archives, talk to people, and share knowledge lives on.

The violence must be named and the systematic elements of that violence must be understood if we are to understand how these legacies persist today and work against them. We must do the work of remembering. The last line on Vernon Dahmer’s memorial program inspires me and runs through Road Through Midnight like a road: His sacrifice on the altar of freedom should inspire us to finish the task.

“Memorial Reflections” from Vernon Dahmer’s funeral program.

 

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Jessica Ingram is assistant professor of art at Florida State University. Visit her website.

 

 

 

Kate Dossett: Making Theatre Dangerous Again

Today we welcome a guest post by Kate Dossett, author of Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal, out now from UNC Press.

Between 1935 and 1939, the United States government paid out-of-work artists to write, act, and stage theatre as part of the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), a New Deal job relief program. In segregated “Negro Units” set up under the FTP, African American artists took on theatre work usually reserved for whites, staged black versions of “white” classics, and developed radical new dramas. In this fresh history of the FTP Negro Units, Kate Dossett examines what she calls the black performance community—a broad network of actors, dramatists, audiences, critics, and community activists—who made and remade black theatre manuscripts for the Negro Units and other theatre companies from New York to Seattle.

Radical Black Theatre in the New Deal is now available in paper and ebook editions.

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Making Theatre Dangerous Again

In November 2016 the vice president-elect was accosted at the theatre by the ghost of presidents past. Following the curtain call of the Broadway musical Hamilton, the actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who was playing the role of Vice President Aaron Burr, addressed Mike Pence directly from the stage. Urging Pence “to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us,” he expressed the concerns of minorities who feared “your new administration will not protect us.”

By 6 a.m. the next morning Donald Trump had taken to Twitter to denounce the cast. Demanding an apology, the president-elect cast himself as the guardian of American theatre, tweeting: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.”

If Hamilton appeared unsafe to Trump and associates, for some theatre scholars the Broadway blockbuster is “too safe.” For Donatella Galella the musical stages a mythical, “multiracial utopia.”  Mobilizing “performances of color,” it suggests all Americans have “a fair chance to compete for access to “The Room Where it Happens.” It has become, she argues, a “commodity of resistance,” one that reminds us that “patriotic pluralism continues to sell.” [i]  The attendance of Mike Pence, and of both the Obamas and Dick Cheney before that, attests to the idea that Hamilton’s success relies on it offering a safe space for political theatre. In this context then, Trump’s exhortation that theatre must be made safe—just as America should be made great again—hints at a different theatrical past.

Continue Reading Kate Dossett: Making Theatre Dangerous Again

Mary J. Henold: The Most Extraordinary (Catholic) Fashion Show of 1970

Today we welcome a guest post from Mary J. Henold, author of The Laywoman Project: Remaking Catholic Womanhood in the Vatican II Era, out today from UNC Press.

Summoning everyday Catholic laywomen to the forefront of twentieth-century Catholic history, Mary J. Henold considers how these committed parishioners experienced their religion in the wake of Vatican II (1962–1965). This era saw major changes within the heavily patriarchal religious faith—at the same time as an American feminist revolution caught fire. Who was the Catholic woman for a new era? Henold uncovers a vast archive of writing, both intimate and public facing, by hundreds of rank-and-file American laywomen active in national laywomen’s groups, including the National Council of Catholic Women, the Catholic Daughters of America, and the Daughters of Isabella. These records evoke a formative period when laywomen played publicly with a surprising variety of ideas about their own position in the Catholic Church.

In this post, Henold explains what an unorthodox 1970 fashion show can tell us about the relationship between Catholic sisters and laywomen at the time.

The Laywoman Project is now available in paperback and ebook editions.

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The Most Extraordinary (Catholic) Fashion Show of 1970

In 1970, Houston, Texas, played host to a most unusual fashion show. The designs were current, the fabrics polyester, the audience was amused if unlikely to purchase anything, and the models were, well…unorthodox. This show took place not at a fashion house, but at the national conference of the Theresians of America, and walking its runway were a group of Catholic sisters.

The Houston chapter of the Theresians planned this fashion show as a stand-out event for its national gathering in 1970, and while it might not be high fashion, it can tell us quite a lot about Catholic women, both lay and religious, at the turn of this most tumultuous decade.

Continue Reading Mary J. Henold: The Most Extraordinary (Catholic) Fashion Show of 1970

Author Interview: Thomas W. Hanchett on Sorting Out the New South City

In this Q&A, Thomas W. Hanchett discusses Sorting Out the New South City, Second Edition: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875–1975, available now from UNC Press. This updated edition includes a new preface by the author.

One of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the South, Charlotte, North Carolina, came of age in the New South decades after the Civil War, transforming itself from a colonial courthouse village to a thriving textile and banking center. In this deeply researched and updated edition, Thomas W. Hanchett explores the interplay of national trends and local forces that shaped Charlotte and, by extension, other New South urban centers. A new preface by the author examines issues of race, immigration, gentrification, and more in the last half century, bringing this groundbreaking study—now more relevant than ever—up to the present.

Sorting Out the New South City, Second Edition is now available in paperback and ebook editions.

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Q: Sorting Out the New South City was first published in 1998. Why is the time right for a new edition?

A: To my surprise, the story that Sorting Out the New South City tells is even more relevant today than it was in the 1990s.

On one level, the book is a case study of how a city grows. Today Charlotte is twice as big and much more nationally visible than in 1998, with people flocking here by the hundreds every week—which raises the curiosity level about the city’s history generally. How did Charlotte become a major U.S. metro?

On another level, the book explores what scholars now call “the geography of opportunity.” Charlotte’s growth has come with problems, especially in economic mobility and affordable housing. Sorting Out the New South City digs into the processes by which Charlotte became segregated by economic class and by race over the course of the twentieth century. That’s a history that is not unique to Charlotte, so this book is of interest to anyone here or elsewhere who wants to understand and re-shape patterns of inequality in America’s cities.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Thomas W. Hanchett on Sorting Out the New South City

Taylor Petrey: Are Mormons Feminists Now?

Today we welcome a guest post from Taylor G. Petrey, author of Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism, forthcoming from UNC Press.

Taylor G. Petrey’s trenchant history takes a landmark step forward in documenting and theorizing about Latter-day Saints (LDS) teachings on gender, sexual difference, and marriage. Drawing on deep archival research, Petrey situates LDS doctrines in gender theory and American religious history since World War II. His challenging conclusion is that Mormonism is conflicted between ontologies of gender essentialism and gender fluidity, illustrating a broader tension in the history of sexuality in modernity itself.

Tabernacles of Clay will publish in June 2020 and is available for preorder now on our website.

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Are Mormons Feminists Now?

Recently, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a very brief statement in their magazine aimed at teenagers, “What is the Church’s Stance on Feminism?” There wasn’t anything particularly new about it, but the statement articulated a tension that the church has navigated over the last several decades on women’s issues. How can the church both accommodate to changing values and stay faithful to its roots?

This statement made the case that some forms of feminism are compatible with the church’s teachings, including those that “ensure basic human rights and basic fairness for women, as well as efforts to encourage women to obtain an education, develop their talents, and serve humankind in any field they choose.” Yet it warns against “extreme ideas,” such as those that “lead people to become distracted from (or even work against) the ideals of marriage and family.”

Like most conservative churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent most of the decades since World War II opposing women’s rights in family planning, working outside the home, and church leadership roles—each time insisting that such advances for women would come at the expense of families or pervert their natural roles in society.

Continue Reading Taylor Petrey: Are Mormons Feminists Now?

Author Interview: Jill D. Snider on Lucean Arthur Headen

In this Q&A, Jill D. Snider discusses her book Lucean Arthur Headen: The Making of a Black Inventor and Entrepreneur, out now from UNC Press.

Born in Carthage, North Carolina, Lucean Arthur Headen (1879–1957) grew up amid former slave artisans. Inspired by his grandfather, a wheelwright, and great-uncle, a toolmaker, he dreamed as a child of becoming an inventor. His ambitions suffered the menace of Jim Crow and the reality of a new inventive landscape in which investment was shifting from lone inventors to the new “industrial scientists.” But determined and ambitious, Headen left the South, and after toiling for a decade as a Pullman porter, risked everything to pursue his dream. He eventually earned eleven patents, most for innovative engine designs and anti-icing methods for aircraft. An equally capable entrepreneur and sportsman, Headen learned to fly in 1911, manufactured his own “Pace Setter” and “Headen Special” cars in the early 1920s, and founded the first national black auto racing association in 1924, all establishing him as an important authority on transportation technologies among African Americans. Emigrating to England in 1931, Headen also proved a successful manufacturer, operating engineering firms in Surrey that distributed his motor and other products worldwide for twenty-five years. Though Headen left few personal records, Jill D. Snider recreates the life of this extraordinary man through historical detective work in newspapers, business and trade publications, genealogical databases, and scholarly works.

Lucean Arthur Headen is now available in hardcover and ebook editions.

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Q: Can you give us a brief summary of Headen’s life and what made him an interesting figure?

A: Part of what made Headen interesting to me was the diversity of his experiences. He wore many hats in his lifetime. He spent a decade as a Pullman porter and dining car waiter for the Erie Railroad; learned to fly in 1911; served as chauffeur to Robert McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune; established a prosperous auto garage in Chicago and turned it, in 1921, into the Headen Motor Company to manufacture his own cars; established the first national-scale auto association for African Americans; organized and raced his Headen Special racer in dirt-track competitions up and down the East Coast; and, after receiving his first patent, emigrated to England, where he started an engineering firm to manufacture products based on the eleven patents he eventually earned. He also served in the British Home Guard in World War II. Headen died in England in 1957.

Q: What kind of difficulties did Headen face?

A: Headen packed a lot into his seventy-six years, and he did it at a time when Jim Crow became codified, limiting his access to advanced training and excluding him from skilled employment, and in an age when inventors like Headen, black and white, were facing shrinking opportunities. The nineteenth century had been the golden age of the independent inventor, but by the 1910s, the growth of corporations and research laboratories was gradually replacing the independents with what many have called “industrial scientists”—men trained in top technical schools, who worked together in teams, and were connected through professional networks. This shift meant independent inventors had to work harder to find financing and to stay abreast of technical knowledge, as companies closely guarded their research results.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Jill D. Snider on Lucean Arthur Headen

Jessica Ingram: On the Importance of Historical Markers as a Community Acknowledgment of History

Today we welcome a guest post from Jessica Ingram, author of Road Through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorialavailable now from UNC Press.

At first glance, Jessica Ingram’s landscape photographs could have been made nearly anywhere in the American South: a fenced-in backyard, a dirt road lined by overgrowth, a field grooved with muddy tire prints. These seemingly ordinary places, however, were the sites of pivotal events during the civil rights era, though often there is not a plaque with dates and names to mark their importance. Many of these places are where the bodies of activists, mill workers, store owners, sharecroppers, children and teenagers were murdered or found, victims of racist violence. Images of these places are interspersed with oral histories from victims’ families and investigative journalists, as well as pages from newspapers and FBI files and other ephemera.

Next week in New York City, Ingram will be joined by fellow photographer Deborah Willis for a book talk at Strand Books on Tuesday, February 18 at at 7:30PM. More information here.

In this post, Ingram writes about the historical marker that sparked the creation of Road Through Midnight, and the importance of such markers to family members and communities affected by racist violence.

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On the Importance of Historical Markers as a Community Acknowledgment of History

I used to approach historical markers to learn something but I rarely felt something. This changed for me when I was in Montgomery, Alabama in 2002, and found myself downtown in Court Square facing a historical marker. The marker, erected in 2001, read:

The city’s slave market was at the Artesian Basin (Court Square). Slaves of all ages were auctioned, along with land and livestock, standing in line to be inspected. Public posters advertised sales and included gender, approximate age, first name (slaves did not have last names), skill, price, complexion and owner’s name. In the 1850s, able field hands brought $1,500; skilled artisans $3,000. In 1859, the city had seven auctioneers and four slave de-pots: one at Market Street (Dexter Avenue) and Lawrence, another at the corner of Perry and Monroe, and two on Market between Lawrence and McDonough.

When I was in front of that Court Square marker, I was struck with the understanding of what it means to erase histories, and curious about what it then means for those histories to reemerge in a collective consciousness through historical markers. This marker was new. Had it not been there I would not have known that I was standing on the site where enslaved people were once sold and traded. This experience began a decade long process of researching lesser known histories from the civil rights era which became my book Road Through Midnight: A Civil Rights Memorial.

Continue Reading Jessica Ingram: On the Importance of Historical Markers as a Community Acknowledgment of History

Maddalena Marinari: The Fight for Immigration Reform Then and Now

Today we welcome a guest post from Maddalena Marinari, author of Unwanted: Italian and Jewish Mobilization against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882-1965, available now from UNC Press.

In the late nineteenth century, Italians and Eastern European Jews joined millions of migrants around the globe who left their countries to take advantage of the demand for unskilled labor in rapidly industrializing nations, including the United States. Many Americans of northern and western European ancestry regarded these newcomers as biologically and culturally inferior—unassimilable—and by 1924, the United States had instituted national origins quotas to curtail immigration from southern and eastern Europe. Weaving together political, social, and transnational history, Maddalena Marinari examines how, from 1882 to 1965, Italian and Jewish reformers profoundly influenced the country’s immigration policy as they mobilized against the immigration laws that marked them as undesirable.

In this post, Marinari describes how the obstacles faced by immigration reform activists in the early to mid twentieth century are similar to those faced by their counterparts today.

Unwanted is now available in paper and ebook editions.

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The Fight for Immigration Reform Then and Now: The Strength and Limitations of Interethnic Alliances

Activists pushing for more humane immigration reform today are deploying remarkably similar tactics to those that Italian and Jewish activists used to challenge the draconian immigration system Congress created in 1924. Then, like now, activists put pressure on their elected officials, went to court to challenge unfair provisions of the law and harsh enforcement practices, and kept the need for immigration reform in the public eye. In the face of continuing rebuke, Italian Americans and Jewish Americans waged one educational campaign after another in the hope of persuading their fellow Americans to support immigration reform. They emphasized the contributions immigrants made to U.S. society and highlighted the country’s long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees. When all else failed, they took to the streets to protest.

Then, like now, immigration reform activists faced the same challenge. Italian and Jewish reformers struggled to create successful interethnic alliances. While both groups succeeded in recruiting support from outside their communities, including legislators, prominent Americans in business, culture, and religion, and even the White House, presenting a united front with advocates representing other immigrant groups proved elusive. Structural racism and a legislative structure that favored insiders made it difficult for them to conceive of an inclusive immigration agenda and build strong alliances with groups with different bargaining positions.

Continue Reading Maddalena Marinari: The Fight for Immigration Reform Then and Now

D. H. Dilbeck: Did Union Armies Really Wage a Just War? The Lieber Code and Sherman’s March to the Sea

A More Civil War cover imageToday we welcome a guest post from D.H. Dilbeck, author of A More Civil War: How the Union Waged A Just War, now available in paperback from UNC Press.

During the Civil War, Americans confronted profound moral problems about how to fight in the conflict. In his innovative book, D. H. Dilbeck reveals how the Union sought to wage a just war against the Confederacy. He shows that northerners fought according to a distinct “moral vision of war,” an array of ideas about the nature of a truly just and humane military effort. Dilbeck explores how Union soldiers abided by official just-war policies as they battled guerrillas, occupied cities, retaliated against enemy soldiers, and came into contact with Confederate civilians.

In today’s post, Dilbeck explores how effective Lieber’s code for the Union Army really was, paying special attention to Sherman’s infamous “March to the Sea.”

A More Civil War is available now in paperback, and as an ebook.

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In a previous post, I briefly considered how the Union’s Lieber code defined a justly waged war. According to that pioneering code of military conduct, a truly just war effort is a “vigorous” one that does nearly whatever is necessary to end a war victoriously as quickly as possible. Yet Francis Lieber’s code also adamantly insisted that a people at war must not abandon all their peacetime moral obligations, so certain constraints should always remain on an army. The Lieber code’s 157 articles tried—with specificity and comprehensiveness—to define those constraints for officers and soldiers alike.

It’s one thing for an official code of conduct to triumphantly proclaim, as Lieber’s code did, “Men who take up arms against one another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings, responsible to one another and to God.” It’s another thing entirely for an army to actually abide by such a sentiment.

President Abraham Lincoln officially issued the Lieber code to Union armies in May 1863. When he did, the Civil War was only half finished. For the two remaining years of the war, did Union armies adhere to the vision of just warfare contained in the Lieber code?

Before trying to answer that question—by looking to William T. Sherman’s infamous “March to the Sea” in 1864—a few disclaimers are in order. First, it is not hard to find plenty of examples of Union armies acting contrary to what the code commanded. The war occasioned no shortage of true atrocities, a fact that’s best never to forget. On top of that, it’s a quite tricky matter to determine how completely Lieber’s code actually shaped the behavior of Union soldiers. Even when soldiers acted in consonance with the code, it’s not always clear that they were deliberately trying to do so—that is, that they were fully aware of the demands of the code’s articles and working to abide by them.

Even so, it’s clear that the code was widely circulated among Union officers and soldiers after the spring of 1863, and that the conduct of Union armies for the remainder of the war, more often than not, cohered with the code.

Continue Reading D. H. Dilbeck: Did Union Armies Really Wage a Just War? The Lieber Code and Sherman’s March to the Sea

Interview with Gregory P. Downs about The Second American Revolution: The Civil War-Era Struggle over Cuba and the Rebirth of the American Republic

The sixth episode in the Talking Legal History podcast’s series featuring UNC Press is live! Siobhan Barco talks with Gregory P. Downs about his book The Second American Revolution: The Civil War-Era Struggle over Cuba and the Rebirth of the American Republic. Downs is professor of history at the University of California, Davis where he studies the political and cultural history of the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

New episodes in this series will be released monthly. For updates, keep your eye on the UNC Press Blog and follow @SiobhanBarco on twitter.

Tiffany A. Sippial: Are U.S. Citizens Still Allowed to Travel to Cuba?

Today we welcome a guest post from Tiffany A. Sippial, author of Celia Sánchez Manduley: The Life and Legacy of a Cuban Revolutionary, out now from UNC Press.

Celia Sánchez Manduley (1920–1980) is famous for her role in the Cuban revolution. Clad in her military fatigues, this “first female guerrilla of the Sierra Maestra” is seen in many photographs alongside Fidel Castro. Sánchez joined the movement in her early thirties, initially as an arms runner and later as a combatant. She was one of Castro’s closest confidants, perhaps lover, and went on to serve as a high-ranking government official and international ambassador. Since her death, Sánchez has been revered as a national icon, cultivated and guarded by the Cuban government. With almost unprecedented access to Sánchez’s papers, including a personal diary, and firsthand interviews with family members, Tiffany A. Sippial presents the first critical study of a notoriously private and self-abnegating woman who yet exists as an enduring symbol of revolutionary ideals.

Celia Sánchez Manduley is now available in paperback and ebook editions.

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Are U.S. Citizens Still Allowed to Travel to Cuba?

As a specialist in the history of Cuba, the number one question I receive from colleagues and friends is: Are U.S. citizens still allowed to travel to Cuba?

I encourage everyone to take the time to study all of the facets of recent Cuba travel policy changes. President Trump announced on June 4 that, effective immediately, U.S. cruise companies would no longer be permitted to sail to the island. The new restriction cut off the most popular mode of travel to the island for U.S. citizens since Obama gave the green light to cruise companies in 2016. The last U.S. cruise liner to dock in Havana, the Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas, sailed out of Havana Bay with its upper decks full of passengers waving to onlookers standing along the capital city’s seawall. While trips to Cuba account for only a small percentage of U.S. cruise company business, the allure of the island allowed those companies to charge rates as much as 20 percent higher for Cuban itineraries than other Caribbean destinations. Shares of Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival all took a hit in the wake of the new restrictions.

Furthermore, an estimated 800,000 cruise travelers were impacted by the new policy. Cruise ships already on route to the island at the time of the announcement were forced to shift their trajectory mid-course and head toward Cozumel, Cancun, or another Caribbean destination. Cruise companies scrambled to offer ship credit or partial refunds to their angry and confused passengers, who immediately began venting on social media. All upcoming cruises will have to bypass the island in favor of alternative itineraries and several have offered full refunds to their customers. The Associated Press estimates that Cuba could lose as much as $130 million in revenue due to the new restrictions on cruises from the United States.

Continue Reading Tiffany A. Sippial: Are U.S. Citizens Still Allowed to Travel to Cuba?

Anne Balay: Trucking Gets Queerer

Semi Queer by Anne BalayToday we welcome a guest post from Anne Balay, author of Semi Queer: Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Driversoriginally published in 2018 by UNC Press.

Long-haul trucking is linked to almost every industry in America, yet somehow the working-class drivers behind big rigs remain largely hidden from public view. Gritty, inspiring, and often devastating oral histories of gay, transsexual, and minority truck drivers allow award-winning author Anne Balay to shed new light on the harsh realities of truckers’ lives behind the wheel. A licensed commercial truck driver herself, Balay discovers that, for people routinely subjected to prejudice, hatred, and violence in their hometowns and in the job market, trucking can provide an opportunity for safety, welcome isolation, and a chance to be themselves—even as the low-wage work is fraught with tightening regulations, constant surveillance, danger, and exploitation. The narratives of minority and queer truckers underscore the working-class struggle to earn a living while preserving one’s safety, dignity, and selfhood.

Semi Queer is now available in paperback for the first time.

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Trucking Gets Queerer

Though the trucking industry is a consistent, stable backbone of America, and 18-wheelers continue to crisscross the country transporting everything we eat and wear and use much as they have for generations, at the same time trucking is experiencing a dizzying rate of change in the 21st century. My book Semi Queer takes pains to describe the web of regulations that shape a trucker’s day, including those of the Department of Transportation, the Megacarriers, the insurance industry, individual states. . . and these have continued to mount since the book was published. For example, in December of 2017 the ELD mandate went into effect. This is a Federal Rule imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that requires almost all trucks to switch from paper logs to an Electronic Logging Device to record their working hours. Many truck drivers fought this new rule, and protests were organized preceding its roll out . . . many drivers who had supported President Trump because of his stated opposition to government overstepping pressed him to intervene on their behalf . . . but none of this advocacy mattered and the new rule went into effect.

Continue Reading Anne Balay: Trucking Gets Queerer

New Talking Legal History Interviews with Kimberly M. Welch and Jane Hong

The fourth and fifth episodes of the Talking Legal History podcast series featuring UNC Press works are up!

The fourth episode features Siobhan Barco talking with Kimberly M. Welch about her book Black Litigants in the Antebellum American South (University of North Carolina Press, 2018). Kimberly Welch is Assistant Professor of History and Assistant Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University. She is a scholar of race, slavery, and law in the early American South.

The fifth episode features Siobhan talking with Jane Hong about her book Opening the Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion (University of North Carolina Press, 2019). Hong is an assistant professor of history at Occidental College where she specializes in 20th-century U.S. immigration and engagement with the world, with a focus on Asia.

The Talking Legal History Podcast Series is produced with support from the Versatile Humanists at Duke program.  New episodes will be released monthly. For updates, keep your eye on the UNC Press Blog and follow @SiobhanBarco on twitter.

 

 

Silvan Niedermeier: Justice Then and Justice Now – The Unending History of Police Violence in the United States

Today we welcome a guest post from Silvan Niedermeier, author of The Color of the Third Degree: Racism, Police Torture, and Civil Rights in the American South, 1930–1955, out now from UNC Press.

Available for the first time in English, The Color of the Third Degree uncovers the still-hidden history of police torture in the Jim Crow South. Based on a wide array of previously neglected archival sources, Silvan Niedermeier argues that as public lynching decreased, less visible practices of racial subjugation and repression became central to southern white supremacy. In an effort to deter unruly white mobs, as well as oppress black communities, white southern law officers violently extorted confessions and testimony from black suspects and defendants in jail cells and police stations to secure speedy convictions. In response, black citizens and the NAACP fought to expose these brutal practices through individual action, local organizing, and litigation. In spite of these efforts, police torture remained a widespread, powerful form of racial control and suppression well into the late twentieth century.

Translated by Paul Allen Cohen, The Color of the Third Degree is now available in print and ebook editions.

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Justice Then and Justice Now – The Unending History of Police Violence in the United States

When on November 24, 2014, a Grand Jury found that “no probable cause” existed to file any indictments against white police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, protest and turmoil erupted. Placards like “We Need Justice Now” made it clear that the protesters saw the decision as another instance of the U.S. justice system failing to sanction police violence against blacks and were no longer willing to accept this state of things. Darren Wilson, they asserted, needed to face charges in a court, in order to rebuild trust in the justice system of the United States. The long history of police brutality in the United States exposes the deep-lying roots of this demand.

An instructive example is the investigation of police officer William F. Sutherland, which arose in Atlanta in March 1940. It was one of the few cases of the time, in which the torture of a black prisoner by a white police officer gained the attention of the southern public. Sutherland was accused of having tortured Quintar South, a sixteen-year-old high-school student, with an electric iron to make him confess to a burglary. A white woman who employed South in her home brought the case to the attention of the local white press. Local welfare institutions and white citizens publicly voiced their indignation about the occurrence, Atlanta’s mayor William B. Hartsfield proclaimed to put an end to police torture in the city, and the white press demanded that the state should not rest until it punished the guilty officer.

Continue Reading Silvan Niedermeier: Justice Then and Justice Now – The Unending History of Police Violence in the United States

More Merry and Bright Holiday Gift Book Ideas

At UNC Press, thinking about which of our books might make great gifts is a happy year-round effort. Here’s a wrap-up-worthy roundup of some of our favorite titles for even the most difficult to buy for folks on your list.

Don’t forget, you can save 40% on all UNC Press print books and receive free shipping on orders of $75 or more. Simply enter code 01HOLIDAY at checkout on our website.

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For the pottery collector who loves to explore, cook, and entertain:

Kiln to Kitchen: Favorite Recipes from Beloved North Carolina Potters by Jean Anderson

Jean Anderson, a member of the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, and author of more than a dozen cookbooks, on her lifelong passion for North Carolina pottery and using it to cook and serve great food. Twenty-four gifted North Carolina potters and 76 favorite recipes are featured in the book illustrated with photographs by Lissa Gotwals.

 

 

For the history buff—budding or otherwise:

Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians edited by Gary W. Gallagher and J. Matthew Gallman with photographs by Will Gallagher

A beautifully illustrated collection of essays by some of the most esteemed historians of the Civil War on the places that they personally find most meaningful.

 

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Staff Picks: A UNC Press Holiday Gift Guide

Books are Great GiftsToday, we’re pleased to share a selection of holiday gift recommendations from UNC Press staff members. To assemble this list, we asked the question, “What is your favorite UNC Press book to give as a gift?”

Right now, you can save 40% on all UNC Press print books and receive free shipping on orders of $75 or more. Simply enter code 01HOLIDAY at checkout on our website. You can also preorder forthcoming titles using this discount, and they will ship as soon as they become available.

Happy holidays and happy reading from all of us at UNC Press.

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Staff Picks: A UNC Press Holiday Gift Guide

 

Bourbon cover photoBourbon: a Savor the South cookbook by Kathleen Purvis

“The perfect gift for any southerner or anyone else who enjoys the South’s signature spirit.”

– Laura, Executive Assistant

 

 

 

Graubart: ChickenChicken: a Savor the South cookbook by Cynthia Graubart

“My daughter loves to eat chicken but needs tips on how to prepare it. She’s going to find a copy of Chicken in her stocking this year.”

– Adele, Director of Human Resources

 

 

 

Mothers and StrangersMothers and Strangers: Essays on Motherhood from the New South edited by Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith

“I would like to put in my recommendation for gifting Mothers and Strangers: Essays on Motherhood from the New South, edited by Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith, which I recommend for its variety of beautifully written and moving stories about many kinds of mothers. My own mother and aunt both loved it.”

– Michelle, Production Manager

 

 

Stitched from the Soul: Slave Quilts from the Antebellum South by Gladys-Marie Fry

“I’ve been thinking, this holiday season, about the late Gladys-Marie Fry. I first met her in 2002 when UNC Press published a new edition of her book Stitched from the Soul: Slave Quilts from the Antebellum South. It’s only now, in retrospect, that I see what a pioneer she was, in African American studies, in material culture studies, in curatorial and museum work, and very purely in being a person of color in the academy. Professor Fry was an important mentor to me, even—especially—when she became deeply obsessed about what title to give the major new book we were working on together, a book she was not able to complete before she passed away in 2015 at the age of eighty-four. Her writing is as spectacular as the quilts she collected by undertaking a national search, and I will be giving Stitched from the Soul to all who can take beauty and heartbreak in one fell swoop.”

– Elaine, Executive Editor

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Author Interview: Jean Anderson on Kiln to Kitchen

In this Q&A, UNC Press Publicity Director Gina Mahalek talks with Jean Anderson, James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame member and author of Kiln to Kitchen: Favorite Recipes from Beloved North Carolina Potters, about her lifelong passion for pottery, her earliest influences, and her gift for harmonizing text and design.

Jean Anderson’s new cookbook deliciously brings together two of her lifelong passions—great food and North Carolina pottery. Fans of both will celebrate. While always meant for one another, pottery and cooking are enjoying a new romance—many potters have introduced designs, glazes, and techniques that make pottery more versatile, while others continue making the traditional pie plates, casseroles, jugs, and mugs that made this state’s pottery famous. Potters now routinely tuck recipes into everything from stoneware angel-food cake pans to salt-glazed bean pots, and Anderson has selected a treasury of favorite recipes contributed by the twenty-four gifted North Carolina potters featured in this book.

Kiln to Kitchen is now available in both print and ebook editions. If you’re in North Carolina, there will be books for sale, food samples, and a signing with Jean Anderson at the W. M. Hewitt Pottery Holiday Kiln Opening on Sunday, 12/8 at 2PM. Read more event details here.

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Author Q&A with Jean Anderson

Gina: What was the inspiration for Kiln to Kitchen?

Jean: My mother taught me to cook before I could read and couldn’t keep me out of the kitchen. She baked pies in Jugtown pie plates and bubbled stews in Jugtown casseroles. To show me how these pots were made as well as to pick up a few pieces, we’d pile into the old Ford on Saturdays and drive from Raleigh to Jugtown.

GM: Tell me about the organization for the book.

JA: There are three major pottery areas in North Carolina—Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Triangle, Seagrove, and Mountains. So I featured eight of the best potters in each of these areas.

GM: How did you get such a good balance of sweet and savory recipes?

JA: I asked each potter to send me their favorite recipes—two to three savories (meat/fish/fowl/vegetables) and two to three desserts. That way I had a variety of choices from which to choose.

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Jennifer Brulé: My Time on Food Network’s #UltimateThanksgivingChallenge

The New Vegetarian South by Jennifer BruleToday, we welcome a guest post from Jennifer Brulé, chef and author of Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways: Traditional, Contemporary, International, as well as The New Vegetarian South: 105 Inspired Dishes for Everyone.

Earlier this month, we were pleased to cheer Jenny on as she competed on Season 2 of Food Network’s Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge, in which five chefs from around the country put their spin on Thanksgiving dishes and competed for first place and a $25,000 grand prize. Here, she reflects on the experience of meeting her fellow chefs and competing on the show.

Both of Jennifer Brulé’s cookbooks are available from UNC Press in print and ebook editions. Use code 01HOLIDAY on our website to receive 40% off and free shipping on orders of $75 or more.

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My Time on Food Network’s Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge

My flight landed on time at LAX. It was early August and although Los Angeles was hot, it (thankfully) lacked the humidity for which southern summers are known. The air felt lighter against my skin.

I was in L.A. to tape a Food Network holiday series, Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge. Five other chefs and I were recruited from around the country to compete against one and other. That was all I knew, all any of us knew—we were there to compete. What the challenges would be, how they would stump us, remained a mystery.

I rolled my tight shoulders and circled my stiff neck as I waited for the network shuttle that was going to take me to the hotel. It arrived quickly; I exchanged pleasantries with the driver and hopped in the passenger seat beside her. “Just picking up one more competitor,” the driver told me. I felt my shoulders tense a bit.

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Catherine O. Jacquet: College Students Today Continuing a Long Tradition of Antirape Activism

Today we welcome a guest post from Catherine O. Jacquet, author of The Injustices of Rape: How Activists Responded to Sexual Violence, 1950-1980, out now from UNC Press.

From 1950 to 1980, activists in the black freedom and women’s liberation movements mounted significant campaigns in response to the injustices of rape. These activists challenged the dominant legal and social discourses of the day and redefined the political agenda on sexual violence for over three decades. In The Injustices of Rape, Catherine O. Jacquet is the first to examine these two movement responses together, explaining when and why they were in conflict, when and why they converged, and how activists both upheld and challenged them.

The Injustices of Rape is now available in print and ebook editions.

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College Students Today Continuing a Long Tradition of Antirape Activism

On November 21, 2019, a group of six students marched into the classroom of University of Texas-Austin philosophy professor Sahorta Sarkar to protest both his sexual harassment of students and the university’s inadequate response to his behavior. “We’re here to tell you that sexual predators and abusers must be held accountable,” one of the protestors declared. The bold action of these students serves as the latest in a long tradition of resistance by activists who have stood up and spoken out in support of victims of gender-based harassment and violence. As I was reading the news coverage of the protest at UT-Austin, I was reminded of feminist antirape activists in the 1970s (many of whom were on college campuses) who took matters into their own hands and demanded that institutions—particularly the law and medicine—dramatically alter their response to rape and rape victims. These feminist activists organized a nationwide antirape movement—a movement which continues to this day and is visible through grassroots campaigns like SlutWalk, End Rape on Campus, #MeToo, and protests like those of the students at UT-Austin.

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Silvan Niedermeier: “All These Scars, There and There.” Fighting Forced Confessions in the Pre-1954 South

Today we welcome a guest post from Silvan Niedermeier, author of The Color of the Third Degree: Racism, Police Torture, and Civil Rights in the American South, 1930–1955, out now from UNC Press.

Available for the first time in English, The Color of the Third Degree uncovers the still-hidden history of police torture in the Jim Crow South. Based on a wide array of previously neglected archival sources, Silvan Niedermeier argues that as public lynching decreased, less visible practices of racial subjugation and repression became central to southern white supremacy. In an effort to deter unruly white mobs, as well as oppress black communities, white southern law officers violently extorted confessions and testimony from black suspects and defendants in jail cells and police stations to secure speedy convictions. In response, black citizens and the NAACP fought to expose these brutal practices through individual action, local organizing, and litigation. In spite of these efforts, police torture remained a widespread, powerful form of racial control and suppression well into the late twentieth century.

Translated by Paul Allen Cohen, The Color of the Third Degree is now available in print and ebook editions.

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“All These Scars, There and There.” Fighting Forced Confessions in the Pre-1954 South

Why did the gruesome practice of lynching African Americans decline in the American South of the 1920s and 1930s? Most importantly, because southern states began to enforce their monopoly of force. Seeing lynching as more and more harmful to the image of the New South, Southern politicians urged law officers to protect black suspects from lynch mobs. Meanwhile, Jessie Daniel Ames’ Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching called for white women to dissuade their husbands from taking part in lynchings and pressed sheriffs to prevent such acts. Yet, there was another, related reason for the decline of lynchings: Sheriffs and police officers substituted whites’ desire for retribution by violently forcing black suspects into confessions. Archival records of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) indicate that law officers were most apt to force confession from black suspects who were accused of the murder or rape of white persons. Southern judges regularly approved such questionable confessions as evidence and thus expedited the conviction and execution of the defendants. The decline in lynchings had a dark underside.

Continue Reading Silvan Niedermeier: “All These Scars, There and There.” Fighting Forced Confessions in the Pre-1954 South