40 pages 1 hour read

C. Vann Woodward

The Strange Career of Jim Crow

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1955

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Introduction-Chapter 1Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Introduction Summary

In the Introduction, Woodward situates his history of segregation in the South within the context of the “Second Reconstruction,” a period of increasing civil rights for African Americans that escalated after World War II. These changes came from many sources. The US Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954 was a watershed moment in desegregation. Presidential executive orders and acts of Congress also implemented a series of notable legislative changes, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Woodward further highlights “policy decisions of federal agencies, actions by labor unions, professional organizations, churches, corporation executives, and educational leaders […] the officers of the army, navy, and air force” (39). The commemorative edition of the text was written after these momentous changes, and the Introduction contextualizes the history of segregation within these transformations. However, as Woodward notes, “what the perspective of years will lend to the meaning of change we cannot know” (38).

These changes marked the end of an era in Southern history.