A Year of Black History: Coming of Age in Jim Crow D.C.


Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 7:00pm



A Year of Black History: Coming of Age in Jim Crow D.C.

Wednesday, April 27 at 7 pm

Watch on YouTube: Coming of Age in Jim Crow D.C.

What was it like growing up as a working-class Black girl or boy in Washington, D.C. during the Jim Crow era? Dr. Paula Austin of Boston University will talk about that reality and her book, Coming of Age in Jim Crow DC. The book offers a complex narrative of the everyday lives of Black young people in a racially, spatially, economically, and politically restricted Washington, DC, during the 1930s. In contrast to the ways in which young people have been portrayed by researchers, policy makers, law enforcement, and the media, Dr. Austin draws on previously unstudied archival material to present Black poor and working class young people as thinkers, theorists, critics, and commentators as they reckon with the boundaries imposed on them in a Jim Crow city that was also the American emblem of equality. The narratives at the center of this book provide a different understanding of Black urban life in the early twentieth century, showing that ordinary people, even children and teenagers, were expert at navigating around the limitations imposed by the District of Columbia’s racially segregated politics. Dr. Paula C. Austin is a U.S. historian with a focus on African American history, the history of race and racism, visual culture, urban, education, and women’s history, the history of social science, and the history of childhood. She is particularly interested in interiority and broadening the narrow definitions of intellectual history. Her book, Coming of Age in Jim Crow DC: Navigating the Politics of Everyday Life (NYU Press, 2019) is a social and intellectual history of poor and working class young black people in the early twentieth century in racially segregated Washington, D.C.