From jubilee to white ‘redemption’: black working-class life in Charleston, 1861-1880

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Drawing upon substantial archival research, this article explores the contours of Black working-class life and politics in one of the most important urban centres in the post-emancipation South: Charleston, South Carolina. The citadel of white proslavery ideology in the antebellum period. Charleston—with a large and combative Black majority—became after the Civil War home to an assertive Black-led labor movement, driven into the public sphere to seek not only civil and political equality but social and economic justice. The defeat of Reconstruction in the mid-1870s signalled not only the return to power of white supremacists, but also marked the beginning of a painful retreat on the part of the city's Black labourers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBlack urban history at the crossroads: race and place in the American city
EditorsLeslie M. Harris, Clarence Lang, Rhonda Williams, Joe William Trotter
PublisherUniversity of Pittsburgh Press
Number of pages43
ISBN (Print)9780822948162
Publication statusAccepted - 30 Dec 2022


  • emancipation
  • Slavery
  • South Carolina
  • American Reconstruction
  • African Americans
  • labor
  • Racism
  • Social class
  • Urban History


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