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Charleston In Black and WhiteRace and Power in the South after the Civil Rights Movement$
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Steve Estes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622323

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622323.001.0001

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Little Black Joe

Little Black Joe

(p.35) Chapter Two Little Black Joe
Charleston In Black and White

Steve Estes

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter documents the life and career of the Charleston politician Joseph P. Riley Jr.—also known as “Little Black Joe”—so-called by his fellow politicians because of his comparatively more liberal views on racism. Over time, Riley's commitment to affirmative action would reshape local government, bringing more minorities and women into executive and administrative positions than most had dared to dream in the civil rights era. This dedication to multiculturalism and affirmative action was sincere, but Riley was no civil rights activist. Moreover, his life and career suggest that the popular narrative of the Republican revolution conquering the American South in the post-civil rights era does not capture the whole story of the region's political trajectory. By exploring Riley's life, the chapter shows an alternative history of white southerners' evolution from the era of segregation and black political disfranchisement through the civil rights movement and beyond.

Keywords:   Little Black Joe, Joseph Riley Jr., Charlestonian politics, multiculturalism, affirmative action, civil rights era, post-civil rights era, alternative history

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