As Presidential Candidates Debate Reparations, New Book Looks at Race and Reconstruction

Stephen Henderson talks with Daniel Brook, the author of a new book called “Accident of Color.”

The period following the Civil War, began with hopes of uniting a divided country. Reconstruction set out to finally convey the rights of citizenship on former slaves, however, despite many advancements in civil rights, education and political representation, backlash from southern whites ultimately rolled back those new freedoms and rights and set in motion decades of segregation and discrimination for black people in America.

Daniel Brook joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to discuss race, Reconstruction, the concept of whiteness and the enduring legacy of this period even in present-day United States.

According to Brook, “big tent whiteness,” or who was considered white, was much more tied to class than race in places like Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana prior to the Civil War. Large Caribbean and Spanish populations in those cities contributed to the idea that whiteness and associated privileges of whiteness were still available to those without a strict European lineage. 

Brook also notes that while slavery was practiced all over the world, only in America does a stark racial divide remain, due to the legacy of Jim Crow laws once slavery was outlawed. 

Click on the player above to hear host Stephen Henderson interview “The Accident of Color: A Story of Race and Reconstruction” author Daniel Brook.


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