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Jenkins Wilbert L Seizing the New Day African Americans in Post-Civil War Charleston Bloomington Indiana University Press 1998 The end of the Civil War may have ended the institution of slavery but this emancipation did not necessarily mean that African Americans in post-Civil War Charleston South Carolina experienced an unrivalled freedom Actually Wilbert Jenkins shows that the black communitys experience was far from certain in the aftermath of the Civil War In Seizing the New Day African Americans in Post Civil War Charleston Jenkins asserts that Charleston blacks using their wits and their determination took an active role in the new social order attempting to shape it to their own needs and purposes xv-xvi Ultimately while he perhaps fails to treat a few possible avenues by which the Charleston African American community grasped their newfound freedom he provides an informative and compelling account of the extent to which many former slaves went to bring about the new promised social order The primary strength of Jenkinss analysis lies in his ability to demonstrate the agency with which the African American community in Charleston actively sought their freedomsocially politically and economically Relying on newspapers travelogues census data and church records he clearly illustrates with example after example the ways in which blacks asserted their freedom After a brief discussion of an African American experience of slavery he attempts to describe their participation in the new social order throughout the entirety of the Reconstruction period Whether celebrating emancipation striving for economic independence struggling for an education comparable to that of whites endeavoring to build a united black community creating a new religious climate or fighting for freedom Charlestons African American population was as ably shown by Jenkins actively involved in the continued struggle for libertya struggle that was often fraught with racial uncertainties even within the African American community especially between black and mulatto While Seizing the New Day makes a strong case for the manners
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