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John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights$
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Brandon K. Winford

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813178257

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813178257.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

From Slavery to Middle-Class Respectability

From Slavery to Middle-Class Respectability

(p.11) 1 From Slavery to Middle-Class Respectability
John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights

Brandon K. Winford

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter 1 examines the Wheeler family in the decades after emancipation and highlights their educational accomplishments, which put them on a path toward middle-class respectability in the early part of the twentieth century. It underscores how their middle-class status and economic independence provided the Wheeler children with more of a level playing field when compared to the black masses, or as much as possible given the limitations of the Jim Crow South. Moreover, it argues that the ideological underpinnings of the industrial “New South” at the end of the nineteenth century offered black business leaders a similar vision of racial uplift through economic independence as a way to reclaim full citizenship. This first chapter sets the stage for understanding the close proximity Wheeler had to black business from an early age—the result of his father becoming an executive with NC Mutual—and why he chose a career in banking.

Keywords:   Wheeler family, Middle-class respectability, New South, Jim Crow South, Racial uplift, Black business, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, Black banking, Morehouse College

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