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The Jim Crow North (Paperback)

The Struggle for Civil Rights in Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Imprint: University Press of Kentucky
Series: Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality
Pages: 346
Illustrations: 25 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 9781985900240
Published: 5th July 2024
Casemate UK Academic

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Located approximately forty miles northwest of Philadelphia, the working-class borough of Pottstown does not immediately come to mind as an influential site of the Black Freedom Struggle. Yet this small town in Pennsylvania served as a significant hub of interracial civil rights activism with regional as well as national impact.  


In The Jim Crow North: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Matthew George Washington adds another interpretive perspective to historiography by using both the "freedom North" and the "long civil rights movement" theoretical models to frame the borough's unique history. Primary documents, including newspaper accounts, census records, oral histories, and correspondence present a vivid account of a rapidly changing town, from the dawn of its civil rights movement during World War II to the revitalization of its NAACP branch in the early 1950s and its activism throughout the 1960s. Placing special emphasis on the demographic nature of the movement, Washington explores how interracial collaboration among the working class made up the movement's critical base—and how, through it all, Black activists remained front and center.


This critical examination of Pottstown illuminates the struggle for African American civil rights in one of the long-ignored urban spaces of the North, providing a rich and in-depth portrait of the Black Freedom Struggle of postwar America.

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