Winner of the 2020 Z calo Public Square Book Prize
"Clear-eyed and meticulous...While depicting the terrors of Jim Crow, Sturkey] also shows how Hattiesburg's black residents, forced to forge their own communal institutions, laid the organizational groundwork for the civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s."
--New York Times
"Sturkey's magnificent portrait reminds us that Mississippi is no anachronism. It is the dark heart of American modernity."
--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk
If you really want to understand Jim Crow--what it was and how African Americans rose up to defeat it--you should start by visiting Mobile Street in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the heart of the historic black downtown. There you can see remnants of the shops and churches where, amid the violence and humiliation of segregation, men and women gathered to build a remarkable community. William Sturkey introduces us to both old-timers and newcomers who arrived in search of economic opportunities promised by the railroads, sawmills, and factories of the New South. And he takes us across town into the homes of white Hattiesburgers to show how their lives were shaped by the changing fortunes of the Jim Crow South.