African Americans in the South

Too often "Southerner" is used to mean "white Southerner" when, in fact, blacks and whites have lived on intimate terms in the region since the first blacks arrived at Jamestown in 1619. As historian John Boles wrote, "Nothing and no one in the South has escaped the mutual influences of the two races." That essential fact is well represented in this course — race is a central factor in all the autobiographies we will read. But African American culture is also something distinctive, and the African American experience must be considered on its own terms. Autobiographies by Zora Neale Hurston, Anne Moody, and the Lady Chablis illustrate central facets of African American history in the South, but also challenge many accepted notions about African Americans in the region. These readings illustrate the importance of class and gender and how much has changed for African Americans in the South since World War II. The Lady Chablis subverts many of the myths of the Old South and openly defies gender roles (and be warned, she's rated X!).