Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow

The Companion to the PBS Television Series

Richard Wormser; The Companion to the PBS Television Series

St. Martin's Press



Between 1880 and 1954, African Americans dedicated their energies, and sometimes their lives, to defeating segregation. During these times, characterized by some as "worse than slavery," African Americans fought the status quo, acquiring education and land and building businesses, churches, and communities, despite laws designed to segregate and disenfranchise them. White supremacy prevailed, but it did not destroy the spirit of the black community.

Incorporating anecdotes, the exploits of individuals, first-person accounts, and never-before-seen images and graphics, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow by Richard Wormser is the story of the African American struggle for freedom following the end of the Civil War. A companion volume to the four-part PBS television series, which took seven years to write, research, and edit, the book documents the work of such figures as the activist and separatist Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells, and W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. It examines the emergence of the black middle class and intellectual elite, and the birth of the NAACP.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow also tells the stories of ordinary heroes who accomplished extraordinary things: Charlotte Hawkins Brown, a teacher who founded the Palmer Memorial Institute, a private black high school in North Carolina; Ned Cobb, a tenant farmer in Alabama who became a union organizer; Isaiah Montgomery, who founded Mound Bayou, an all-black town in Mississippi; Charles Evers, brother of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who fought for voter registration in Mississippi in the 1940s. And Barbara Johns, a sixteen-year-old Virginia student who organized a student strike in 1951. The strike led to a lawsuit that became one of the five cases the United States Supreme Court reviewed when it declared segregation in education illegal.

As the twenty-first century rolls forward, we are losing the remaining survivors of this pivotal era. Rich in historical commentary and eyewitness testimony by blacks and whites who lived through the period, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow is a poignant record of a time when indignity and terror constantly faced off against courage and accomplishment.


Praise for The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow

“Richard Wormser's The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow is a vivid, probing chronicle of what W.E.B. Du Bois called the problem of the twentieth century--the dialectic of race and rights in America's once color-coded democracy.” —David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the two-volume W E. B. Du Bois biography

“A powerful and dramatic documentary of black life under Jim Crow, capturing the horrors, brutality and power of that system in graphic detail while maintaining a central focus on how African Americans endured, resisted and challenged the systems.” —Dr. Patrick Sullivan, Harvard University

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow shows for the first time a part of our history without which America cannot be understood. An excellent job.” —Dr. Glenda Gilmore, Yale University

“In light of recent Congressional turmoil, this measured, and sometimes chilling, guide to the PBS series of the same name could not be more timely. Wormser, a television producer and writer, provides an illuminating, succinct history of racial discrimination in the U.S., especially in the South. The book begins in 1865 at the end of the Civil War and concludes in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education and the integration of public schools. To emphasize the tremendous obstacles African-Americans had to face in the U.S.--lynchings, substandard schools, chain gangs, low or no pay--Wormser uses personal narratives of slaves and free men as well as the work of iconic African-American figures, such as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells and Thurgood Marshall. Likewise, the positions of middle-class and well-known white segregationists--Strom Thurmond, the KKK, Andrew Johnson--are also documented. Wormser concludes that, 'though Jim Crow is no longer codified in the laws, and the racial climate has decidedly improved, white supremacy is still a vital part of the American psyche.' A stark account of race politics in America, this book provides an indispensable backdrop for understanding the present political scene.” —Publishers Weekly

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About the author

Richard Wormser; The Companion to the PBS Television Series

Richard Wormser is an award-winning writer and photographer. He has written, produced, and directed over one hundred programs for television, educational institutions, and government. His programs have received over twenty-five awards. He is the originator, series coproducer, and writer/director of the four-part PBS television series The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. He has also written twenty books of young adult nonfiction, and has taught film and video production courses at the University of Bridgeport and Global Village in New York. He lives in New York City.

Richard Wormser

Richard Wormser

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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