Since its publication in 1978, Jay R. Mandle’s The Roots of Black Poverty has come to be seen as a landmark publication in the study of the political economy of the postbellum South. In Not Slave, Not Free, Mandle substantially revises and updates his earlier work in light of significant new research. The new edition provides an enhanced historical perspective on the African American economic experience since emancipation.
Not Slave, Not Free focuses first on rural southern society before World War II and the role played by African Americans in that setting. The South was the least developed part of the United States, a fact that Mandle considers fundamental in accounting for the poverty of African Americans in the years before the War. At the same time, however, the concentration of the black labor force in plantation work significantly retarded the South’s economic growth. Tracing the postwar migration of blacks from the South, Mandle shifts attention to the problems and opportunities that confronted African Americans in cities. He shows how occupational segregation and income growth accelerated this migration.
Instrumental to an understanding of the history of the political economy of the United States, this book also directs readers and policymakers to the central issues confronting African Americans today.