A real-life Lucious Lyon: The former slave who built a Beale Street “Empire” and transformed Memphis

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-09 01:27Z by Steven

A real-life Lucious Lyon: The former slave who built a Beale Street “Empire” and transformed Memphis


Preston Lauterbach

Bob Church (Credit: University of Memphis Special Collections)

Memphis — and music as we know it — wouldn’t be the same without Robert Church’s legacy of vice, virtue and power

Depending on which critic or fan you ask, Fox TV’s “Empire” is somewhere between Shakespeare’s drama “King Lear” and Norman Lear’s campy “Good Times.” Less apparent to the show’s legions of viewers is how the story of Lucious Lyon and Empire Entertainment echoes the original black empire, a real-life dynasty of vice, virtue, and power, built in the heart of the old Confederacy just after the Civil War by a former slave who became monarch, Robert Church.

Like Lucious Lyon, who must plan for the future of his empire after being diagnosed with a crippling, often fatal, ailment, Bob Church had plenty of reasons to consider his legacy. It wasn’t so much that a specific death sentence loomed over Church—he just happened to find himself in life threatening situations, often. By his early 30s, Church had survived two gunshot wounds to his head, a steamboat disaster, a Civil War naval battle that he escaped by swimming the Mississippi River and an assassination attempt that backfired when a shotgun aimed at him exploded toward the shooter. Had Bob Church not been the combination of tough and lucky that saved him in these fateful scrapes, legendary Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, might be just another strip of concrete. Instead, it gained such an extraordinary reputation that Memphis entertainer Rufus Thomas would crack, “If you could be black on Beale Street one Saturday night, you’d never want to be white no more.”

Beale Street’s birth as an alternate universe for black America, a center of political clout and cultural fertility that changed America, all began with Church…

…Understanding the uncertainty of the vice-lord life in a hell-roaring river town, Church knew he must cultivate an heir. His eldest son Thomas lived in New York, passing for white, some have said. Thomas wouldn’t do. Eldest daughter Mary had become a steadfast leader in her own right, the first black woman on Washington, D.C.’s board of education and a founder of the NAACP. She could not be compromised. As with Lucious Lyon’s three sons, there was some competition among the Church children—they all would have liked to keep his money—but unlike “Empire’s” twisted succession plot, old man Church had no doubt who to choose: his youngest son, Robert Jr…

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I’m black, my brother’s white … and he’s a cop who shot a black man on duty

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-08-29 19:58Z by Steven

I’m black, my brother’s white … and he’s a cop who shot a black man on duty

The Guardian

Zach Stafford, Writer
Chicago, Illinois

I never thought that my brother would be one of those police officers. He was supposed to be different because of me

My white brother loved black people more than I did when we were growing up. As a black interracial child of the south – one who lived in a homogenous white town – I struggled with my own blackness. I struggled even more with loving that blackness. But my brother, Mitch, didn’t. He loved me unapologetically. He loved me loudly.

He also loved screwing with other people’s expectations. Whenever we met new people or I joined a social situation he was in, Mitch would make sure I was standing right next to him for introductions and say, “This is Zach, my brother” – and then go silent with a smirk…

..And then, years later and far away in Chicago, I got the phone call: my brother, now a cop, had shot an unarmed black man back in Tennessee.

Hearing about black men dying is never exactly a surprise. Every day, you see the news stories: On the news, black men die while getting Skittles. On the news, black men die in choke-holds. On the news, black men die for playing their music too loud. It seems black men die on the news more than they do almost anything else on the news, even with a black president in office. Every 28 hours, a black man is killed by a police officer in America…

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Becoming Melungeon: Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2013-08-22 02:49Z by Steven

Becoming Melungeon: Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South

University of Nebraska Press
232 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8032-7154-8

Melissa Schrift, Associate Professor of Anthropology
East Tennessee State University

Appalachian legend describes a mysterious, multiethnic population of exotic, dark-skinned rogues called Melungeons who rejected the outside world and lived in the remote, rugged mountains in the farthest corner of northeast Tennessee. The allegedly unknown origins of these Melungeons are part of what drove this legend and generated myriad exotic origin theories. Though nobody self-identified as Melungeon before the 1960s, by the 1990s “Melungeonness” had become a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, resulting in a zealous online community and annual meetings where self-identified Melungeons gathered to discuss shared genealogy and history. Although today Melungeons are commonly identified as the descendants of underclass whites, freed African Americans, and Native Americans, this ethnic identity is still largely a social construction based on local tradition, myth, and media.

In Becoming Melungeon, Melissa Schrift examines the ways in which the Melungeon ethnic identity has been socially constructed over time by various regional and national media, plays, and other forms of popular culture. Schrift explores how the social construction of this legend evolved into a fervent movement of a self-identified ethnicity in the 1990s. This illuminating and insightful work examines these shifting social constructions of race, ethnicity, and identity both in the local context of the Melungeons and more broadly in an attempt to understand the formation of ethnic groups and identity in the modern world.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Race, Identity, and the Melungeon Legend
  • Chapter 1: Inventing the Melungeons
  • Chapter 2: Melungeons and Media Representation
  • Chapter 3: Playing the First Melungeons
  • Chapter 4: Becoming Melungeon
  • Chapter 5: The Mediterranean Mystique
  • Chapter 6: The Melungeon Core
  • Closing Thoughts
  • Appendix 1: Melungeon Questionnaire
  • Appendix 2: Media Articles
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index
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William F. Yardley

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive on 2013-05-01 20:04Z by Steven

William F. Yardley

The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (Version 2.0)

Lewis L. Laska
Tennessee State University

William F. Yardley, an influential and powerful advocate for the legal rights of blacks, was the first African American to run for governor of Tennessee. Yardley was born in 1844, the child of a white mother and a black father and, therefore, legally free. He was literally left on the Knoxville doorstep of the white Yardley family, who took him in and gave him his name. Bound out to learn a trade, he attended school under the direction of an Episcopal minister. In 1869 he was teaching black children at the Ebenezer School and reading law with a white lawyer. By 1872 he had passed the bar exam and was licensed to practice. Apparently the first African American lawyer in Knoxville, he handled primarily criminal cases for black clients. In 1870 he married Elizabeth Stone, who was part Native American, and they had four children…

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The melungeons: A mystery people of east Tennessee

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2011-10-14 03:04Z by Steven

The melungeons: A mystery people of east Tennessee

Volume 29, Issue 1-2 (1964)
pages 43-48
DOI: 10.1080/00141844.1964.9980946

Paul G. Brewster
Cookeville, Tennessee, USA

The United States has long been called, and with some justification, “the melting-pot of nations” and the intermarriage of members of different races is a commonplace. The children born to such unions are as a rule aware of their mixed ancestry and identify themselves as Swedish-French, Irish-Italian, Welsh-English, etc. However, there are many groups which have no knowledge at all as to their racial origin or, at best, only a tradition supported by no historical evidence. Such are the Weromos and the Renabees of Virginia, the “Rivers” of North Carolina, and similar groups in Delaware and Maryland. Of this type are also the “Jackson Whites” of upper New York State and the Ramapo Mountain area of northern New Jersey, some of whom live hardly more than twenty-five miles from New York City and yet have all the clannishness, hostility toward the outside world, and primitive way of life usually associated with mountain people of the Deep South. Although they themselves know (or care) nothing about their ancestry, research has established that they are the descendants of some 3500 women shipped to New York for the pleasure of British troops during the American Revolution. The name Jackson derives from that of the contractor who supplied them, and they were called “Whites” to distinguish them from the West Indian women included in the shipment. At the close of the War they were released by the British and left to fend for themselves, with the…

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FBI investigating racist threat in Polk County

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2011-07-09 05:10Z by Steven

FBI investigating racist threat in Polk County

Chattanooga Times Free Press
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Sunday, 2011-06-26

Beth Burger

Ducktown, Tenn.—More than a week after part of a cinderblock was thrown through a trailer window with a threatening racist message attached, an interracial Polk County couple continue to have sleepless nights.

“I just want to get out of there,” said Ellis Weatherspoon, 45, who lives in Turtletown with his common-law wife, Jennifer, and their 3-year-old son. Weatherspoon, who is black, and Jennifer, 28, who is white, have been together for seven years.

While the Polk County Sheriff’s Office categorized the crime as a simple vandalism case with no apparent motive, the Chattanooga FBI office now is investigating the incident, according to Sheriff Bill Davis.

And things have gotten worse for the couple. On Thursday, the couple found their 6-month-old pit bull/German shepherd mix, Gilbert, dead at the trailer, a rope tied around its neck several times and its body propped against its doghouse…

…Ugly past

Historically, there were consequences for having an interracial relationship in Tennessee.

Dating back to the 1800s, Tennessee law forbade whites from cohabitating or marrying people who were more than one-eighth black, said Daniel Sharfstein, an associate law professor at Vanderbilt University.

A violation was a felony and people could do time in prison, he said. But sometimes mobs took the law into their own hands and lynched the illicit lovers.

Despite the law, interracial relationships were accepted in some rural mountain areas throughout the South, said Sharfstein, who is the author of “The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White.”

“The struggles of everyday life were often more important than something as meaningless as race,” he said. “So when I read about the Weatherspoons, to go out of your way to attack an interracial couple — it’s not just disgraceful, it also goes against a most cherished tradition of life in the mountains where people lived the life they chose to live, free of outside meddling and interference.”…

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Suing for Freedom: Interracial Sex, Slave Law, and Racial Identity in the Post-Revolutionary and Antebellum South

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2011-04-04 03:20Z by Steven

Suing for Freedom: Interracial Sex, Slave Law, and Racial Identity in the Post-Revolutionary and Antebellum South

North Carolina Law Review
Volume 82, Issue 2 (January 2004)
pages 535-

Jason A. Gillmer, Associate Professor of Law
Texas Wesleyan School of Law


A. Two Stories
In 1823 in Sumner County, Tennessee, Phebe, a “colored woman” transplanted from Virginia, brought suit against Abraham Vaughan for her freedom. Phebe alleged that she was being wrongly held in slavery because she descended in the maternal line from an American Indian woman named Murene, her great-grandmother.  Murene, Phebe alleged, was free, and since the rule in Tennessee, as in every Southern state, was that a person’s status as free or slave was determined by the status of the mother, Phebe claimed that she also was free. Phebe thus offered little in the way of her appearance (classed as she was as a woman of color), choosing instead to base her claim on evidence of her descent. Both the trial court and the Tennessee Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals proved solicitous of her efforts, allowing her to rely on hearsay testimony to trace herself back to Murene and, also, to establish that Murene was both an Indian and free.  The Tennessee Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals also upheld the decision to permit Phebe to rely on the record from a case involving her maternal aunt, Tab, against her owner. In that case, Tab successfully sued for her freedom based on the same claim at issue here: that she was free because she descended from Murene.  In the end, the jury awarded Phebe her freedom, with the bulk of the evidentiary rulings upheld on appeal…

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The Melungeons: A Mixed-Blood Strain of the Southern Appalachians

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2011-03-27 00:48Z by Steven

The Melungeons: A Mixed-Blood Strain of the Southern Appalachians

Geographical Review
Volume 41, Number 2 (April, 1951)
pages 256-271

Edward T. Price, Professor Emeritus of Geography
University of Oregon

In the native vocabulary of East Tennessee and adjacent parts of neighboring states the word “Melungeon” is widely used. To some people it is only a general derogatory term to be bestowed on anyone who momentarily arouses their antagonism. Middle Tenneseeans are said to have applied it to their former East Tennessee enemies in the bitter period after the Civil War. And at times the Melungeons have had to fill the place of the bogeyman in holding children in the straight and narrow path “The Melungeons will get you!”‘

The persistent folk tale, however, insists that the Melungeons are unusual racially; it identifies them as a dark-skinned mixed-blood group of uncertain origin whose center is on Newman’s Ridge in Hancock County (Fig. 1). An Oriental appearance is occasionally attributed to them, but they are most commonly thought to be at least partly of Portuguese descent. The peculiarity of the mixture, however, is its supposed inability to blend color in crosses with whites: the Melungeon appearance may be lost for a generation or two, only to show up again in full strength. Relatively few people know the Melungeons as a group; more have seen individuals. But the elements of the legend are widely known, even to those who may not seriously entertain the possibility of its reality.

Newman’s Ridge and the adjacent Blackwater Valley are said to have been settled by the Melungeons before the wave of white settlers from the eastern states reached the area;3 it is suggested that they stemmed from sailors shipwrecked on the Carolina coast.

The Melungeons are said to have been disfranchised by the restrictions placed on free persons of color in the Tennessee Constitution of 1834…

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Census Bureau Reports Final 2010 Census Data for the United States

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Louisiana, Media Archive, Mississippi, Texas, United States, Virginia on 2011-03-25 02:15Z by Steven

Census Bureau Reports Final 2010 Census Data for the United States

United States Census Bureau
Census 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that 2010 Census population totals and demographic characteristics have been released for communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. These data have provided the first look at population counts for small areas and race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit data released from the 2010 Census. With the release of data for all the states, national-level counts of these characteristics are now available.

For each state, the Census Bureau will provide summaries of population totals, as well as data on race, Hispanic origin and voting age for multiple geographies within the state, such as census blocks, tracts, voting districts, cities, counties and school districts.

According to Public Law 94-171, the Census Bureau must provide redistricting data to the 50 states no later than April 1 of the year following the census. As a result, the Census Bureau is delivering the data state-by-state on a flow basis. All states will receive their data by April 1, 2011.

Highlights by Steven F. Riley

  • The United States population (for apportionment purposes)  is 308,745,538. This represents a 9.71% increase over 2000.
  • The U.S. population including Puerto Rico is 312,471,327.  This represents a 9.55% increase over 2000.
  • The number of repondents (excluding Puerto Rico) checking two or more races (TOMR) is 9,009,073 or 2.92% of the population. This represents a 31.98% increase over 2000.
  • The number of repondents (including Puerto Rico) checking TOMR is 9,026,389 or 2.89% of the population.  This represents a 29.23% increase over 2000.
  • Hawaii has the highest TOMR response rate at 23.57%, followed by Alaska (7.30%), Oklahoma (5.90%) and California (4.87%).
  • California has the highest TOMR population at 1,815,384, followed by Texas (679,001), New York (585,849), and Florida (472,577).
  • Mississppi has the lowest TOMR response rate at 1.15%, followed by West Virginia (1.46%),  Alabama (1.49%) and Maine (1.58%).
  • Vermont has the lowest TOMR population at 10,753, followed by North Dakota (11,853), Wyoming (12,361) and South Dakota (17,283).
  • South Carolina has the highest increase in the TOMR response rate at 100.09%, followed by North Carolina (99.69%), Delaware (83.03%) and Georgia (81.71%).
  • New Jersey has the lowest increase in the TOMR response rate at 12.42%, followed by California (12.92%), New Mexico (16.11%), and Massachusetts (17.81%).
  • Puerto Rico has a 22.83% decrease in the TOMR response rate and New York has a 0.73% decrease in the TOMR response race.  No other states or territories reported decreases.
2010 Census Data for “Two or More Races” for States Above
# State Total Population Two or More Races (TOMR) Percentage Total Pop. % Change from 2000 TOMR % Change from 2000
1. Louisiana 4,533,372 72,883 1.61 1.42 51.01
2. Mississippi 2,967,297 34,107 1.15 4.31 70.36
3. New Jersey 8,791,894 240,303 2.73 4.49 12.42
4. Virginia 8,001,024 233,400 2.92 13.03 63.14
5. Maryland 5,773,552 164,708 2.85 9.01 59.00
6. Arkansas 2,915,918 72,883 2.50 9.07 59.50
7. Iowa 3,046,355 53,333 1.75 4.10 67.83
8. Indiana 6,483,802 127,901 1.97 6.63 69.02
9. Vermont 625,741 10,753 1.71 2.78 46.60
10. Illinois 12,830,632 289,982 2.26 3.31 23.38
11. Oklahoma 3,751,351 221,321 5.90 8.71 41.89
12. South Dakota 814,180 17,283 2.12 7.86 70.18
13. Texas 25,145,561 679,001 2.70 20.59 31.93
14. Washington 6,724,540 312,926 4.65 14.09 46.56
15. Oregon 3,831,074 144,759 3.78 11.97 38.20
16. Colorado 5,029,196 172,456 3.43 16.92 41.14
17. Utah 2,763,885 75,518 2.73 23.77 60.01
18. Nevada 2,700,551 126,075 4.67 35.14 64.96
19. Missouri 5,988,927 124,589 2.08 7.04 51.82
20. Alabama 4,779,736 71,251 1.49 7.48 61.28
21. Hawaii 1,360,301 320,629 23.57 12.28 23.63
22. Nebraska 1,826,341 39,510 2.16 6.72 64.95
23. North Carolina 9,535,483 206,199 2.16 18.46 99.69
24. Delaware 897,934 23,854 2.66 14.59 83.03
25. Kansas 2,853,118 85,933 3.01 6.13 52.10
26. Wyoming 563,626 12,361 2.19 14.14 39.15
27. California 37,253,956 1,815,384 4.87 9.99 12.92
28. Ohio 11,536,504 237,765 2.06 1.59 50.59
29. Connecticut 3,574,097 92,676 2.59 4.95 23.82
30. Pennsylvania 12,702,379 237,835 1.87 3.43 67.23
31. Wisconsin 5,686,986 104,317 1.83 6.03 55.94
32. Arizona 6,392,017 218,300 3.42 24.59 48.98
33. Idaho 1,567,582 38,935 2.48 21.15 52.04
34. New Mexico 2,059,179 77,010 3.74 13.20 16.11
35. Montana 989,415 24,976 2.52 9.67 58.78
36. Tennessee 6,346,105 110,009 1.73 11.54 74.32
37. North Dakota 672,591 11,853 1.76 4.73 60.22
38. Minnesota 5,303,925 125,145 2.36 7.81 51.25
39. Alaska 710,231 51,875 7.30 13.29 51.92
40. Florida 18,801,310 472,577 2.51 17.63 25.58
41. Georgia 9,687,653 207,489 2.14 18.34 81.71
42. Kentucky 4,339,367 75,208 1.73 7.36 77.20
43. New Hampshire 1,316,470 21,382 1.62 6.53 61.81
44. Michigan 9,883,640 230,319 2.33 -0.55 19.70
45. Massachusetts 6,547,629 172,003 2.63 3.13 17.81
46. Rhode Island 1,052,567 34,787 3.30 0.41 23.14
47. South Carolina 4,625,364 79,935 1.73 15.29 100.09
48. West Virginia 1,852,994 27,142 1.46 2.47 71.92
49. New York 19,378,102 585,849 3.02 2.12 -0.73
50. Puerto Rico 3,725,789 122,246 3.28 -2.17 -22.83
51. Maine 1,328,361 20,941 1.58 4.19 65.58
52. District of Columbia 601,723 17,316 2.88 5.19 71.92
Total (with Puerto Rico) 312,471,327 9,026,389 2.89 9.55 29.23
U.S. Population 308,745,538 9,009,073 2.92 9.71 31.98

Tables compiled by Steven F. Riley. Source: United States Census Bureau

2000 Census Data for “Two or More Races” for States Above
# State Total Population Two or More Races (TOMR) Percentage
1. Louisiana 4,469,976 48,265 1.08
2. Mississippi 2,844,658 20,021 0.74
3. New Jersey 8,414,250 213,755 2.54
4. Virginia 7,078,515 143,069 2.02
5. Maryland 5,296,486 103,587 1.96
6. Arkansas 2,673,400 35,744 1.34
7. Iowa 2,926,324 31,778 1.09
8. Indiana 6,080,485 75,672 1.24
9. Vermont 608,827 7,335 1.20
10. Illinois 12,419,293 235,016 1.89
11. Oklahoma 3,450,654 155,985 4.52
12. South Dakota 754,844 10,156 1.35
13. Texas 20,851,820 514,633 2.47
14. Washington 5,894,121 213,519 3.62
15. Oregon 3,421,399 104,745 3.06
16. Colorado 4,301,261 122,187 2.84
17. Utah 2,233,169 47,195 2.11
18. Nevada 1,998,257 76,428 3.82
19. Missouri 5,595,211 82,061 1.47
20. Alabama 4,447,100 44,179 0.99
21. Hawaii 1,211,537 259,343 21.41
22. Nebraska 1,711,263 23,953 1.40
23. North Carolina 8,049,313 103,260 1.28
24. Delaware 783,600 13,033 1.66
25. Kansas 2,688,418 56,496 2.10
26. Wyoming 493,782 8,883 1.80
27. California 33,871,648 1,607,646 4.75
28. Ohio 11,353,140 157,885 1.39
29. Connecticut 3,405,565 74,848 2.20
30. Pennsylvania 12,281,054 142,224 1.16
31. Wisconsin 5,363,675 66,895 1.25
32. Arizona 5,130,632 146,526 2.86
33. Idaho 1,293,953 25,609 1.98
34. New Mexico 1,819,046 66,327 3.65
35. Montana 902,195 15,730 1.74
36. Tennessee 5,689,283 63,109 1.11
37. North Dakota 642,200 7,398 1.15
38. Minnesota 4,919,479 82,742 1.68
39. Alaska 626,932 34,146 5.45
40. Florida 15,982,378 376,315 2.35
41. Georgia 8,186,453 114,188 1.39
42. Kentucky 4,041,769 42,443 1.05
43. New Hampshire 1,235,786 13,214 1.07
44. Michigan 9,938,444 192,416 1.94
45. Massachusetts 6,349,097 146,005 2.30
46. Rhode Island 1,048,319 28,251 2.69
47. South Carolina 4,012,012 39,950 1.00
48. West Virginia 1,808,344 15,788 0.87
49. New York 18,976,457 590,182 3.11
50. Puerto Rico 3,808,610 158,415 4.16
51. Maine 1,274,923 12,647 0.99
52. District of Columbia 572,059 13,446 2.35
Total (with Puerto Rico) 285,230,516 6,984,643 2.45
  United States 281,421,906 6,826,228 2.43

Tables compiled by Steven F. Riley.  Source: United States Census Bureau

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Forsaking All Others: A True Story of Interracial Sex and Revenge in the 1880s South

Posted in Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2010-08-20 16:09Z by Steven

Forsaking All Others: A True Story of Interracial Sex and Revenge in the 1880s South

University of Tennessee Press
160 estimated pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-57233-724-4; 1572337249
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-57233-740-4; 1-57233-740-0

Charles F. Robinson, Vice Provost for Diversity; Associate Professor of History and Director of African American Studies
University of Arkansas

The electronic book (E-Book) is available now.

An intensely dramatic true story, Forsaking All Others recounts the fascinating case of an interracial couple who attempted—in defiance of society’s laws and conventions—to formalize their relationship in the post-Reconstruction South. It was an affair with tragic consequences, one that entangled the protagonists in a miscegenation trial and, ultimately, a desperate act of revenge.

From the mid-1870s to the early 1880s, Isaac Bankston was the proud sheriff of Desha County, Arkansas, a man so prominent and popular that he won five consecutive terms in office. Although he was married with two children, around 1881 he entered into a relationship with Missouri Bradford, an African American woman who bore his child. Some two years later, Missouri and Isaac absconded to Memphis, hoping to begin a new life there together. Although Tennessee lawmakers had made miscegenation a felony, Isaac’s dark complexion enabled the couple to apply successfully for a marriage license and take their vows. Word of the marriage quickly spread, however, and Missouri and Isaac were charged with unlawful cohabitation. An attorney from Desha County, James Coates, came to Memphis to act as special prosecutor in the case. Events then took a surprising turn as Isaac chose to deny his white heritage in order to escape conviction. Despite this victory in court, however, Isaac had been publicly disgraced, and his sense of honor propelled him into a violent confrontation with Coates, the man he considered most responsible for his downfall.

Charles F. Robinson uses Missouri and Isaac’s story to examine key aspects of post-Reconstruction society, from the rise of miscegenation laws and the particular burdens they placed on anyone who chose to circumvent them, to the southern codes of honor that governed both social and individual behavior, especially among white men. But most of all, the book offers a compelling personal narrative with important implications for our supposedly more tolerant times.

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