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Carl T. Rowan, an African-American, wrote this book in 1952, well before the freedom marches, Affirmative Action and a legislated end to segregation. Once he was south of the mason-Dixon line, this respected author and columnist, who later became Ambassador to Finland and head of the USIS, was just another "nigger". Segregation, at the time he originally wrote this book, was not a moral issue, but a government-approved one. And yet, as one reads the reissued version, one can also sense that Mr. Rowan is against reverse discrimination, a sort of "spoils system" that favors minorities, regardless of their background or professional experience. In other words, he resents the idea of a quota system, as if having more dark-colored faces in high places would solve the racial problem and the bigotry that continues well into the 21st century.

Thomas Wolfe once wrote that you could not go home again. Rowan did, to McMinnville, Tennessee where he grew up. While some things appeared better, not much had really changed. Blacks were still being taken advantage of, and it was all legal to appropriate land and to remove stones from a quarry without paying for it. Rowan describes his travels in 1951, including a stop in Columbia, Tennessee, which had been the scene of race riots in 1946, and to Birmingham which, in the time before the Freedom Marches, Rowan found to be the most racist city of them all. On page after page, we read about the slights, humiliation, and outright nasty bigotry he encountered. Rowan was already not only well-educated with a degree from Oberlin College, but had a good newspaper job. Yet, he was treated as if he were an illiterate farm-hand. The color of his skin mattered. Still locations changed some things. As Rowan points out, "àit is impossible to generalize about the South. A Negro can do things in one town that he would be killed for seventy-five miles away" (p. 53).


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'SOUTH OF FREEDOM'. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:50, June 02, 2020, from