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The Uplift Generation

Cooperation across the Color Line in Early Twentieth-Century Virginia
Clayton McClure Brooks

BUY Cloth · 288 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813939490 · $45.00 · Mar 2017
BUY Ebook · 288 pp. · ISBN 9780813939506 · $45.00 · Mar 2017

Offering a fresh look at interracial cooperation in the formative years of Jim Crow, The Uplift Generation examines how segregation was molded, not by Virginia’s white political power structure alone but rather through the work of a generation of Virginian reformers across the color line who from 1900 to 1930 engaged in interracial reforms. This group of paternalists and uplift reformers believed interracial cooperation was necessary to stem violence and promote progress. Although these activists had varying motivations, they worked together because their Progressive aims meshed, finding themselves unlikely allies. Unlike later incarnations of interracialism, this early work did not challenge segregation but rather helped to build and define it, intentionally and otherwise. The initiatives—whose genesis ranged from private one-on-one communications to large-scale interracial organizations—shaped Progressivism, the emergence of a race-conscious public welfare system, and the eventual parameters of Jim Crow in Virginia. Through extensive use of personal papers, newspapers, and other archival materials, The Uplift Generation shares the stories of these fascinating—yet often forgotten—reformers and the complicated and sometimes troubling consequences of their work.


Brooks's research will add substantial depth to historians' and their students' understanding of how Virginia's segregated social order developed in the early twentieth century.

Jennifer Ritterhouse, George Mason University, author of Discovering the South: One Man’s Travels through a Changing America in the 1930s

[E]xplores racial issues during the Jim Crow era.

Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Uplift Generation is essential reading for students of the perverse ironies of Southern Progressivism, the unsteady advancement of urban segregation, or the complexities, blind alleys, and internal debates within African American political ideology and strategy.

VA Magazine of History and Biography

One of the strengths of The Uplift Generation is that it brings to life several leading figures in Virginian politics. Brooks tells her subjects’ stories carefully, clearly invested in considering the complexities of individual biographies and motivations.

American Historical Review

The Uplift Generation is an excellent examination of race relations and interracial cooperation in Virginia during the early twentieth century.... A brief review cannot do justice to Brooks’s nuanced analysis of the state during these decades, but his book should be read by students and scholars of Virginia history.

Journal of American History

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