This Arrogant Autonomy

Fifty years ago, the great novelist James Baldwin published an essay in The Nation titled, A Report From Occupied Territory. With a few minor changes of names and places, it may well have been published yesterday. Excerpts below, with images from Jacob Lawrence’s remarkable Migration Series, dating from 1940-41.

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DURING WORLD WAR I THERE WAS A GREAT MIGRATION NORTH

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FROM EVERY SOUTHERN TOWN MIGRANTS LEFT BY THE HUNDREDS

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THERE HAD ALWAYS BEEN DISCRIMINATION

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THE FEMALE WORKERS WERE THE LAST TO ARRIVE NORTH

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Once DP readers have worked through Annie Proulx’s masterful Barkskins, we urge consideration of one of the most important books of American history published in the fifty years since Baldwin’s searing report: Constance and Ned Sublette’s The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding History.  More on this, in a future post.


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