Essay on C. Vann Woodward's The Strange Career Of Jim Crow

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C. Vann Woodward's The Strange Career Of Jim Crow C. Vann Woodward illuminates one of the “ugliest” aspects of American societal history in his book The Strange Career of Jim Crow. His book is an overview of the development of the Jim Crow system, a set of racist laws put in place around the turn of the nineteenth century. Interestingly his book tracks the evolution of racism throughout American history. He not only shows where and when racism is developing but the different ways that the racism manifested itself in the North and South. C. Vann Woodward published the first edition of his book in 1955, while the racial atmosphere was in a tumultuous state. Black Americans at the time were still suffering from the effects of the…show more content…
In his preface to his first edition, he lays out what he is attempting to do. He says “Few have any idea of the relative recency of the Jim Crow laws, or any clear notion of how, when, and why the system arose.” (p. xvi) In his book he seems to be explaining the system and where he believes it arose. With that though comes the responsibility of including all of the facts, which Woodward attempts to do through his revisions. He publishes his second revised edition in 1966, three years after Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. The civil rights movement is now in full swing and his second edition is much more complete than his first. He acknowledges the faults of his first edition stating, “The intervening years of social upheaval and political travail since 1955 have inevitably altered the perspective from which the earlier history was viewed.” (p.ix) Woodward’s third edition is published in 1974, and in his preface he again allows for the changing times. Though in this edition, he does state that his biggest change is the addition of a chapter to the end of his book which covers the biggest advancements in race relations. His final edition is published almost thirty years after his third edition and is in many ways a reevaluation of the entire book after the time period has ended. In 2001, while there is still racism, the Civil Rights
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