Chief Lieutenant Essay

1661 Words 7 Pages
In A Chief Lieutenant, Jackson recovers the lived experience of oppression in Mississippi during the early-twentieth century. While cognizant of the extraordinary brutality that lay beneath the legal apparatus of segregation, he focuses upon the constraints institutionalized racism imposed upon a black middle class that nevertheless strove to make Mound Bayou a haven. His depiction of Charles Banks, an admiring one, confirms historian Robert Kenzer's observation that successful African Americans in the South "were forced to live very public lives in which they faced constant scrutiny not only from other blacks but also from whites."[2] As for Mound Bayou, it is worth remembering that those who fought for African American empowerment saw …show more content…
Founded in 1887 as an all-black community with the support of the Louisville, New Orleans, and Texas Railroad, Mound Bayou was a haven for African Americans as violence against them rose precipitously in the last years of the nineteenth century. By the early-twentieth century, Washington could look upon Mound Bayou as an exemplar of his famous injunction to "cast down your bucket where you are."[4]

Subsequent chapters explore Banks's activities in Mound Bayou through his connection to the Tuskegee Institute and Booker T. Washington. For the purposes of this review, most may be summarized briefly. Chapters 3 and 4 explicitly describe Banks's connection to the "Tuskegee Machine." Having met Washington at the inaugural meeting of the National Negro Business League (NNBL) in 1900, Banks rapidly became a trusted correspondent. Washington and his secretary, Emmett Scott, relied upon Banks for information about Mississippi affairs. Through his connection to Tuskegee, Banks was able to obtain for Mound Bayou a farm demonstration agent from the Department of Agriculture in 1907. He was also instrumental in planning Washington's 1908 tour through Mississippi. Chapter 5 focuses upon the National Negro Business League (NNBL) as well as the state affiliate established in 1905 by Banks, the Mississippi Negro Business League (MNBL). Banks served as first vice-president of the NNBL from 1907 until 1923. Chapter
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