A Different Day

African American Struggles for Justice in Rural Louisiana, 1900-1970

By Greta de Jong

336 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 illus., 5 tables, 3 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5379-5
    Published: June 2002
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6010-6
    Published: April 2003

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Examining African Americans' struggles for freedom and justice in rural Louisiana during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, Greta de Jong illuminates the connections between the informal strategies of resistance that black people pursued in the early twentieth century and the mass protests that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. Using evidence drawn from oral histories and a wide range of other sources, she demonstrates that rural African Americans were politically aware and active long before civil rights organizers arrived in the region in the 1960s to encourage voter registration and demonstrations against segregation.

De Jong explores the numerous, often-subtle methods African Americans used to resist oppression within the confines of the Jim Crow system. Such everyday forms of resistance included developing strategies for educating black children, creating strong community institutions, and fighting back against white violence. In the wake of the economic changes that swept the South during and after World War II, these activities became more open and organized, culminating in voter registration drives and other protests conducted in cooperation with civil rights workers.

Deeply researched and accessibly written, A Different Day spotlights the ordinary heroes of the freedom struggle and offers a new perspective on black activism throughout the twentieth century.

About the Author

Greta de Jong is assistant professor of history at the University of Nevada, Reno.
For more information about Greta de Jong, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"A useful addition to studies of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. . . . De Jong sets the achievements of that struggle in the perspective of a much longer and larger protest tradition not often studied. . . . [The book] focuses on the experiences of civil rights workers in rural areas, while many other studies focus on urban areas."--Choice

"De Jong's book provides a nuanced portrait of the civil rights movement by showing how local, 'ordinary' people shaped the movement to meet their own needs."--Journal of American History

"A provocative analysis of the civil rights struggle in Louisiana. . . . There are many things to admire in this sympathetic and sophisticated analysis."--Journal of Southern History

"In demonstrating how large-scale economic change in the South impacted upon the lives of African Americans at the local level, A Different Day provides civil rights historians with a more 'interactive' explanation of why the civil rights movement emerged when it did."--Journal of Contemporary History

"Greta de Jong's well-written and well-researched book frames the freedom struggle in rural Louisiana as a long, painful, and not entirely successful movement. In rural areas, blacks relied less upon national civil rights organizations than upon their own ideas and armed self-defense."--Pete Daniel, author of Lost Revolutions: The South in the 1950s