Cover: Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White, from Harvard University PressCover: Hattiesburg in HARDCOVER


An American City in Black and White

Illuminating… Sturkey’s clear-eyed and meticulous book pulls off a delicate balancing act. While depicting the terrors of Jim Crow, he 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.The New York Times

When they are at their best, historians craft powerful, compelling, often genre-changing pieces of history… William Sturkey is one of those historians… A brilliant, poignant work of history… Shows us—in a powerful way—the utility of taking a longer, more systematic view of the Jim Crow period.—Charles W. McKinney Jr., Journal of African American History

Sturkey provides a moving account of the evil of white supremacy.Choice

Hattiesburg is not connected in the popular mind with civil rights history in the way of Selma and Montgomery, but Sturkey’s vibrant history makes a strong case that, to understand how the civil rights movement emerged, it’s essential to spend time there.Publishers Weekly

Hattiesburg is where racial democracy meets white supremacy, where technology meets nature, where old slavery money meets the indebted sharecropper, where imagination meets the unimaginable, where the ballot meets the bullet. 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: The Life and Times of an American Original

Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was the quintessential New South city, built on the promise of quick cash and persistent oppression. In this brilliantly braided history, William Sturkey shows how African Americans made it into a place of opportunity, community, resilience, and rebellion. Hattiesburg is an insightful, powerful, and moving book.—Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

Sturkey’s beautifully written portrait of Hattiesburg, Mississippi—from its founding after the Civil War through the emergence of the modern civil rights movement—offers a fresh history of Jim Crow’s development and decline, unlike any other I have read. Sturkey features people with agency, acting to shape their lives and improve their community, while showing how these individuals were acting within the context of broad economic trends related to war, depression, migration, and more. A wonderfully compelling book.—Emilye Crosby, author of A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi

In this masterful biography of an American place, Sturkey compels us to look anew at the world made by white supremacy and remade by the black freedom struggle. Hattiesburg is a timely reminder of how much remains to be said about our shared, segregated past, and few have said more in a single book than this author. This bold, imaginative book is essential reading for anyone seeking to fathom Jim Crow’s rise, fall, and resilience—in Mississippi and well beyond.—Jason Morgan Ward, author of Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America’s Civil Rights Century

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap, by Mehrsa Baradaran, from Harvard University Press

Book Club Spotlight: The Color of Money

The Vivian’s Door Initiative is inspired by the courage and legacy of the late Vivian Malone Jones. She was the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama and was responsible for ending the segregation of public universities in the state of Alabama. Vivian’s courage and will power to create change for her brothers and sisters of color inspired the creation of a nonprofit project called Vivian’s Door. In March 2020, Vivian’s Door started a book club; their first pick was The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran. In June, over 50 people joined the online discussion of the book