George Henry White: An Even Chance in the Race of Life (Southern Biography Series)

Benjamin R. Justesen

Published by LSU Press, 2001
ISBN 10: 0807125865 / ISBN 13: 9780807125861
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Although he was one of the most important African American political leaders during the last decade of the nineteenth century, George Henry White has been one of the least remembered. A North Carolina representative from 1897 to 1901, White was the last man of his race to serve in the Congress during the post-Reconstruction period, and his departure left a void that would go unfilled for nearly thirty years. At once the most acclaimed and reviled symbol of the freed slaves whose cause he heralded, White remains today largely a footnote to history. In this exhaustively researched biography, Benjamin R. Justesen rescues from obscurity the fascinating story of this compelling figure's life and accomplishments.

The mixed-race son of a free turpentine farmer, White became a teacher, lawyer, and prosecutor in rural North Carolina. From these modest beginnings he rose in 1896 to become the only black member of the House of Representatives and perhaps the most nationally visible African American politician of his time. White was outspoken in his challenge to racial injustice, but, as Justesen shows, he was no militant racial extremist as antagonistic white democrats charged. His plea was always for simple justice in a nation whose democratic principles he passionately loved. A conservative by philosophy, he was a dedicated Republican to the end. After he retired from Congress, he remained active in the fight against racial discrimination, working with national leaderas of both races, from Booker T. Washington to the founders of the NAACP.

Through judicious use of public documents, White's speeches, newspapers, letters, and secondary sources, Justesen creates an authoritative and balanced portrait of this complex man and proves him to be a much more effective leader than previously believed.

From the Back Cover:

"Justesen has recovered a compelling story and a significant life. Shrewd and insightful, the book offers an important reminder that before white supremacy and disfranchisement, African Americans exercised considerable political power in North Carolina and the South." -- North Carolina Historical Review

"Justesen adroitly uses limited sources to make an excellent case for moving White from the footnotes to the main text of black history." -- Journal of Southern History

"Justesen paints a full portrait of one of the more obscure African American politicians of the late nineteenth century." -- The Journal of Negro History

In this exhaustively researched biography, Benjamin R. Justesen rescues from obscurity the fascinating story of George Henry White, one of the most important -- yet least remembered -- African American political leaders during the last decade of the nineteenth century. A North Carolina representative from 1897 to 1901, White was the last man of his race to serve in the Congress during the post-Reconstruction period, and nearly thirty years would pass before another African American was elected to either the House or Senate. Through judicious use of public documents, White's speeches, newspapers, letters, and secondary sources, Justesen creates an authoritative and balanced portrait of this complex man and proves him to be a much more effective leader than previously believed.

Benjamin R. Justesen is the author of In His Own Words: The Writings, Speeches, and Letters of George Henry White and Broken Brotherhood: The Rise and Fall of the National Afro-American Council.

G. K. Butterfield is a congressman for North Carolina's 1st Congressional District.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: George Henry White: An Even Chance in the ...
Publisher: LSU Press
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good
Edition: 1st.

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