5 out of 5 stars
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As the saying goes, "The only duty we owe history is to rewrite it", Across the Kentucky Color Line: Cultural Landscapes of Race from the Lost Cause to Integration by Lee Durham Stone does justice to the racial background and history of the black community in Kentucky. In rewriting history, it is not to stir up the grievances of the past but to give it meaning and avoid the mistakes of the past. This book goes back in time to the era following the slave trade, but its target area is Muhlenberg, Kentucky. The fight against racial apartheid was a long and drawn-out one for Muhlenberg, as this book shows.
From the failed attempts of the Reconstruction era to the Redemptionist system to the time of desegregation and integration of schools, blacks have had their share of inferior treatment and white dominance. They went from being chattels to doing menial jobs even after the end of the slave trade, with poor pay and income. They also worked the mines at the risk of their health and safety, with death lurching behind the corridors in the mines. This was what blacks endured for decades: a life of servitude, injustice, lynching, and disenfranchisement of their right to vote. As every place lives with the burden of its own history, so does Kentucky, with its past hidden away in the silent archives of time. The author digs into these archives with the intent of breaking these silences.
Being a fan of historical fiction and nonfiction, I enjoyed learning about the history of black segregation and racial discrimination in Kentucky. I found nothing to dislike about this book, as I discovered a lot I didn't know about racial discrimination. However, I did find some narrations confusing and had to go over them several times before I was able to grasp the intended message. I love how the author made references to statements made by historians; it was a technique he used from the start of the book to the end. This appealed to me and added to my enjoyment of the book.
I rate this book five out of five stars because, although it is technical and complex, I was happy to have the opportunity to glance into the silent archives buried in the history of Kentucky. I say glance because I am sure a lot more than what I read about in this book—terrifying and horrific scenes—may have occurred in Kentucky and other parts of America. The flaw I mentioned above did not deter my interest in the book; I found two typos throughout the book, which indicates that this book was professionally edited.
I recommend this book to historians and fans of historical nonfiction. I would suggest you keep a dictionary handy while reading this book to get the most out of your reading experience.
Across the Kentucky Color Line
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