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Long Past SlaveryRepresenting Race in the Federal Writers' Project$
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Catherine A. Stewart

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469626260

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626260.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

The Passing Away of the Old-Time Negro

The Passing Away of the Old-Time Negro

Folk Culture, Civil War Memory, and Black Authority in the 1930s

(p.11) Chapter One The Passing Away of the Old-Time Negro
Long Past Slavery

Catherine A. Stewart

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter places the Federal Writers’ Project’s mission to collect and document African American history and culture within the larger context of the 1930s. National interest in black folk culture and the “Negro question” along with the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Civil War and competing forms of remembrance through film, Ex-Slave associations, and Old Slave Days, helped fuel debates over black citizenship. By hiring African American writers, such as Sterling Brown as the editor of Negro Affairs, to oversee projects related to black history, the FWP seemed to herald a new era in African Americans’ struggle for authority over cultural representations of black identity. But the increasing commodification of black folk culture through the recording industry, radio, and film, along with folklorists and southern whites’ emphasis on the “old-time Negro,” presented significant challenges to black authority despite invocations of authenticity, the social sciences, and the image of the New Negro.

Keywords:   Federal Writers’ Project, ex-slaves, African Americans, black folk culture, folklorists, New Negro, Sterling Brown, Civil War, film, recording industry

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