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Traveling Black

A Story of Race and Resistance

Mia Bay

ISBN 9780674278622

Publication date: 01/10/2023

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Winner of the Bancroft Prize
Winner of the David J. Langum Prize
Winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award
Winner of the Order of the Coif Book Award
Winner of the OAH Liberty Legacy Foundation Award
A New York Times Critics’ Top Book of the Year

“This extraordinary book is a powerful addition to the history of travel segregation…Mia Bay shows that Black mobility has always been a struggle.”
—Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist

“In Mia Bay’s superb history of mobility and resistance, the question of literal movement becomes a way to understand the civil rights movement writ large.”
—Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

Traveling Black is well worth the fare. Indeed, it is certain to become the new standard on this important, and too often forgotten, history.”
—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., author of Stony the Road

From Plessy v. Ferguson to #DrivingWhileBlack, African Americans have fought to move freely around the United States. But why this focus on Black mobility? From stagecoaches and trains to buses, cars, and planes, Traveling Black explores when, how, and why racial restrictions took shape in America and brilliantly portrays what it was like to live with them.

Mia Bay rescues forgotten stories of passengers who made it home despite being insulted, stranded, re-routed, or ignored. She shows that Black travelers never stopped challenging these humiliations, documenting a sustained fight for redress that falls outside the traditional boundaries of the civil rights movement. A riveting, character-rich account of the rise and fall of racial segregation, it reveals just how central travel restrictions were to the creation of Jim Crow laws—and why free movement has been at the heart of the quest for racial justice ever since.

Praise

  • In Traveling Black, Mia Bay’s superb history of mobility and resistance, the question of literal movement becomes a way to understand the civil rights movement writ large…Bay…is an elegant storyteller, laying out the stark stakes at every turn while also showing how discrimination wasn’t just a matter of crushing predictability but often, and more insidiously, a haphazard jumble of risks…Her excellent book deepens our understanding of not just where we are but how we got here.

    —Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

Awards

  • 2022, Winner of the PROSE Awards
  • 2021, Winner of the David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History or Biography
  • 2022, Winner of the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award
  • 2022, Winner of the Bancroft Prize
  • 2022, Joint winner of the Lillian Smith Book Awards
  • 2022, Joint winner of the Order of the Coif Book Award

Author

  • Mia Bay is the author of To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells and The White Image in the Black Mind, and coauthor of Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, with Documents. She is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania.

Book Details

  • 400 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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