Ruled by Race


Black/White Relations in Arkansas From Slavery to the Present
Grif Stockley
978-1-55728-885-1 (cloth)
November 2008


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From the Civil War to Reconstruction, the Redeemer period, Jim Crow, and the modern civil rights era to the present, Ruled by Race describes the ways that race has been at the center of much of the state’s formation and image since its founding. Grif Stockley uses the work of published and unpublished historians and exhaustive primary source materials along with stories from authors as diverse as Maya Angelou and E. Lynn Harris to bring to life the voices of those who have both studied and lived the racial experience in Arkansas.

Topics range from the well-known Little Rock Central High Crisis of 1957 to lesser-known events such as the Elaine Race Massacres of 1919 and the shocking yet sadly commonplace attitudes found in newspaper reports and speeches. Through the words of the most powerful Arkansans such as racist Arkansas Govenor Jeff Davis (1901–1906) to the least powerful, including an unflinching look at the narratives of former slaves, readers will come away with increased awareness of the ways that race continues to affect where Arkansans live, send their children to school, work, travel, shop, spend leisure time, worship, and choose their friends and life partners.

Grif Stockley is the author of several books, including Race Relations in the Natural State; Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader from Arkansas, winner of the Ragsdale Award from the Arkansas Historical Association and the Arkansiana Award from the Arkansas Library Association and Blood in Their Eyes: The Elaine Race Massacres of 1919, winner of the Booker Worthen Prize from the Central Arkansas Library System and recipient of a Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History. He is a historian with the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

“Offering deeper insight not only into Arkansas race relations but race relations across the US, this will become a go-to book for those studying race in the South. Summing up: Highly recommended.”
Choice, December 2009

Ruled by Race: Black/White Relations in Arkansas from Slavery to the Present is a balanced narrative of Arkansas, particularly in the twentieth century. The study is a useful reference and provides important bibliographical sources, especially memoirs. It is a valuable history for both general and academic readers.”
—Fon L. Gordon, The Journal of Southern History, May 2010

“An important and useful contribution to the literature on Arkansas history and to general readers elsewhere who see Arkansas as an important locus of Southern race relations over the past two centuries. Readers will find the book compelling because of how it sets race at the center of much of the state’s formation and image since its founding.”
—Adam Green, author of Selling the Race: Culture and Community in Black Chicago, 1940–1955 and Time Longer than Rope: Studies in African American Activism: 1850–1950

Winner of the 2010 Booker Worthen Literary Prize.

Winner of the 2009 Ragsdale Award.