A Different Shade of Justice

Asian American Civil Rights in the South

By Stephanie Hinnershitz

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 halftones, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6150-6
    Published: August 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3369-5
    Published: October 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-3370-1
    Published: August 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5176-5
    Published: August 2017

Justice, Power, and Politics

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Awards & distinctions

2017 Silver Award, Journalism and Investigative Reporting, Nautilus Book Awards

In the Jim Crow South, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and, later, Vietnamese and Indian Americans faced obstacles similar to those experienced by African Americans in their fight for civil and human rights. Although they were not black, Asian Americans generally were not considered white and thus were subject to school segregation, antimiscegenation laws, and discriminatory business practices. As Asian Americans attempted to establish themselves in the South, they found that institutionalized racism thwarted their efforts time and again. However, this book tells the story of their resistance and documents how Asian American political actors and civil rights activists challenged existing definitions of rights and justice in the South.

From the formation of Chinese and Japanese communities in the early twentieth century through Indian hotel owners’ battles against business discrimination in the 1980s and ’90s, Stephanie Hinnershitz shows how Asian Americans organized carefully constructed legal battles that often traveled to the state and federal supreme courts. Drawing from legislative and legal records as well as oral histories, memoirs, and newspapers, Hinnershitz describes a movement that ran alongside and at times intersected with the African American fight for justice, and she restores Asian Americans to the fraught legacy of civil rights in the South.

About the Author

Stephanie Hinnershitz is assistant professor of history at Cleveland State University.
For more information about Stephanie Hinnershitz, visit the Author Page.


“Readable and engaging, and recommended to anyone interested in the intersections of race, gender, ethnicity, and labor in the United States.”--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

“An important addition to southern civil rights history . . . [a] careful, accessible study of Asian American legal and organizational challenges to Jim Crow laws and de facto practices.”--Choice

“Using a rich set of archival sources, legal records, oral histories, and interviews, and focusing on a range of cases from the 1880s to the late twentieth century, Hinnershitz tells the story of how Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Indian Americans challenged southern racial discrimination and fought for their rights.”--American Historical Review

“Provides a welcome addition to a flourishing body of scholarship on the experiences of Asian Americans and other immigrant groups in the U.S. South. This scholarship has challenged assumptions that the South was largely excepted from national histories of immigration, and it complicates understandings of racial identity in the region.”--Journal of Southern History

“This valuable work presents sophisticated and nuanced insight about Asians in the post-Civil War South . . . A welcome volume.”--Journal of American History

“Hinnershitz explores the struggles for civil rights and equal justice among Asian Americans from the first Chinese laborers in the south . . . to more recent efforts by Indian immigrants to flourish in the hospitality industry in the south. Framing this history in the "interstitial identity" of Asian Americans . . . Hinnershitz argues that Asians found both opportunities and challenges in the American south.”--Journal of North Carolina Association of Historians