Analysis Of Leon Litwack's Trouble In Mind

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Leon Litwack, an American historian, uses the personal testimonies and memories of black Southerners in his book Trouble in Mind, in order to describe the terrible injustices they faced regularly in the post-Reconstruction, Jim Crow South. Litwack pulls no punches when describing what everyday life was like for Southern African Americans between the 1870s and the Great Depression. Though this book is not a chronological telling of segregation, the author guides the audience through the horrifying and ever-pervasive ways in which African Americans were taught and trained to respect and submit to the existing social order across the South. Litwack utilizes individual stories, memories, and a variety of other sources to convey the day-to-day workings …show more content…
Litwack does a wonderful job explaining the political, legal, and social climate and attitudes that allowed for Jim Crow to take such a strong hold and have so much control over the daily lives of southerners. In the fourth chapter, “White Folks: Scriptures,” Litwack describes the belief system of the South and that the indoctrination of the racial hierarchy started young. This early racial separation grew to incite clashes between them, as is seen in the next chapter, “White Folks: Acts.” The legal and political systems actively worked to keep African Americans submissive and under their control. By using these individuals’ stories, the reader is fully cognizant that these acts against blacks were not isolated to one area in the South, but spanned the entire region and were extremely common during this period. As is seen in the sixth chapter, “Hellhounds,” most of the racial discord was done at the hands of white southerners who held power and expected blacks to respect that power. Litwack uses personal testimonies and memories of African Americans to explain just how terrifying and volatile whites could be. Black southerners had to constantly be aware of their surroundings so they could uphold the exact system that was keeping them down. White paternalism and black subservience had to be maintained at all times, lest they face fierce backlash and “unparalleled brutality” that could quickly turn into a public spectacle, like the mutilation and lynching of Sam Hose. The political system, as well as the judicial and legal systems, were severely against black advancement and worked to maintain the social order in the South. Black Southerners were often forced to endure this order silently as they went about their daily lives as the “hellhounds” manipulated the legal, political, and social systems that actively worked to keep them

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