Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The Negro Image in the South, the Anatomy of White Supremacy.
By Claude H. Nolen. Lexington (University of Kentucky Press),
1967. Pp. 232. $6.50o.
This study of the Negro in southern society is a highly analytical
examination of the reasoning and forces which led to the desegrega-
tion of the Negro both in slavery and freedom. In many respects it
goes deeper into the anatomy of discrimination than any other brief
study published heretofore. The title should be the "anatomy of white
men fitting into a world with Negro neighbors." In three major areas
of economic and social life the author examines the forces and ration-
alizations of a co-racial society.
Nolen's extensive introduction and a longer introductory chapter
give a good synthesis of the development of a sense of white su-
premacy ranging from the time-worn scriptural references to slavery
and the physiological cliches to the open physical conflicts in the
decades following the Civil War. He reviews the postwar riots and
lynchings, and the shaping of attitudes by whites toward the reloca-
tion of the Negro in southern society as a subservient of white
society. This same analysis is carried through a penetrative discus-
sion of the newly freed Negro in politics.
The central period, 1865-1910, was highly productive of all sorts
of commentaries on the southern racial problems. If anyone has
doubted that the Negro was ever less than a central figure in southern
thinking, he has only to read through the contemporary newspapers
and periodicals to confirm this fact. From 188o to 191o, especially,
there were literally hundreds of racial stories which dealt with matters
of social and political conflict. Southern writers expressing varied
points of view found literary outlets in the national magazines. Two
of the most revealing articles appearing in these periodicals before
1900 on the subject of the Negro were written in 1885 by George W.
Cable and Henry W. Grady for Century Magazine. The conflict be-
tween points of view expressed in these articles has never been
brought more clearly into focus than in this book. Too, the conflict in
southern thought was brought into public consciousness by Cable
Nolen has made good use of a broad spectrum of periodical ma-
terial. In like manner he has examined travel accounts produced in
this period. Both the traveler and the sociological observer contributed
generously to the volume of materials now available. The author did
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed March 4, 2015.