St. Louis, the Border South, and the Historiography of the Black Freedom Movement

Lecture Description

As “North” and “South” converge in a new synthesis of the history of the Black Freedom Movement, scholars confront the need to expand and refine typologies of place for assessing both the national character and regional particularities of historic African American freedom struggles. Among other things, this method calls for (1) treatment of regional histories, local political economies, and African Americans’ position therein; (2) government processes at the city, state, and federal levels; (3) interpretation of the specific forms of black community and institutional development, and class stratification, present among defined black populations; (4) consideration of the dynamics of migration and immigration to a given locale, and the impact on African Americans, both interracially and intraracially; and (5) an appreciation of the uneven patterns of political development, organization and mobilization among black communities across time and place. Using the city of St. Louis, Missouri, as an illustration, this presentation argues for a conceptualization of the “border South” region as a transitional space where both northern and southern political economies, migration and immigration patterns, and modes of black racial control and black politics merged, often prefiguring shifts in the rest of the nation. This presentation suggests that the peculiar histories of such border states such as Missouri, Maryland, and Kentucky illustrate simultaneously the instability and concreteness of regional designations in historical narratives of black freedom struggle.

CATEGORIES

African American Civil Rights

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