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Battling the Plantation MentalityMemphis and the Black Freedom Struggle$
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Laurie B. Green

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831069

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807888872_green

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Introduction: Migration, Memory, and Freedom in the Urban Heart of the Delta

Introduction: Migration, Memory, and Freedom in the Urban Heart of the Delta

(p.1) Introduction: Migration, Memory, and Freedom in the Urban Heart of the Delta
Battling the Plantation Mentality

Laurie B. Green

University of North Carolina Press

This book documents the struggles by working-class African Americans in the urban South in the period between World War II and the Memphis sanitation workers' strike of 1968. More specifically, it examines what African Americans thought about freedom and their own activism in the context of race, class, and gender. Drawing on oral history interviews with black women workers, many of them recent migrants from the Mississippi Delta, the book explores the dynamic relations between migration, memory, and activism, paying particular attention to how working-class African Americans challenged the urban attitudes and practices that they considered barriers to freedom. It also discusses the concept known as “plantation mentality,” which referred to white racist attitudes that promoted white domination and black subservience reminiscent of slavery and sharecropping, and how it shaped complex and contested understandings of freedom articulated during the modern civil rights movement.

Keywords:   strike, African Americans, urban South, Memphis, sanitation workers, freedom, activism, migration, plantation mentality, civil rights movement

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