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An Unseen LightBlack Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee$
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Aram Goudsouzian and Charles W. McKinney Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175515

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175515.001.0001

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“In the Hands of the Lord”

“In the Hands of the Lord”

Migrants and Community Politics in the Late Nineteenth Century

(p.13) “In the Hands of the Lord”
An Unseen Light

Brian D. Page

University Press of Kentucky

This essay investigates black life in the aftermath of the Memphis Massacre of 1866, chronicling how new migrants helped reconstitute cultural life and political strength. It examines an alliance of black benevolent associations with white elites during the 1876 election. This alliance reflected a practical accommodation to political reality, and it reinforced a political culture built on white domination and black subservience. But it also revealed distinct aims among the black communities in Memphis. Long-term black residents and Republican activists tended to utilize the political process to promote racial equality, while incoming migrants were often the individuals most willing to challenge white supremacy on a daily basis. The migrant population was not monolithic, however. In South Memphis a community-oriented migrant population approached politics as one way to express their independence and desire for freedom from the political culture of white supremacy.

Keywords:   Memphis Massacre, Republicans, South Memphis, 1876 election, benevolent associations

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