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Protest in the “Age of Accommodation:” J. Max Barber and the Voice of the Negro

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Abstract:

As editor of the monthly journal the Voice of the Negro, a twenty-six year old black southerner, J. Max Barber used his post to become a prominent spokesman on behalf of the streetcar boycotts which took place in at least twenty five cities between 1900 and 1907. Barber wrote in 1904 that “the rapidity which characterizes the spread of the Jim Crow idea is simply alarming.” He warned his national audience, “With startling celerity the craze for separate street cars is spreading all over the South. Mere separation does not hurt the colored people half so much as the unjust discriminations imposed.”
The offices of the Voice were in Atlanta, Georgia where political cronyism and competition between rival streetcar companies led to the quick passage of a city ordinance segregating the cars in 1900. Even though streetcar boycotts had been short-lived in his own city of Atlanta, Barber remained an advocate of protest, frequently publicizing the southern movement to contest segregation. Barber’s leadership in the boycott movement, and his growing frustration with the destruction of black citizenship, along with the acquiescence of Booker T. Washington, led Barber to become a founding member of W.E.B. DuBois’s Niagara Movement, an organization founded in 1905 for the cause of civil rights. The articulate young editor was the strongest national spokesman for the boycotts.
Because of his insistence on agitation on behalf of “the race,” and his growing affiliation with the Niagara Movement led by W.E.B. Du Bois, Barber ran afoul of the stringent approach of Booker T. Washington. Barber was punished for his radical stance, driven out of Atlanta in the wake of the race riot of 1906 and prevented by Washington and his followers from successful restarting his career in journalism. He returned to dental school to escape to a professional career Washington could not stymie, restarting his career in activism under the banner of the local chapter of the NAACP in the 1910s and 1920s. Barber’s body of work as a journalist in excellently preserved in the Voice of the Negro.
This paper will chronicle the work of Barber, outlining his rigorous protest in a time most commonly characterized as an age of accommodation. Using Barber’s work in the Voice, I will challenge the idea of the age of accommodation. Barber’s work and the protests he chronicled, point to a more dynamic political landscape. Turn of the twentieth century black southerners lived in a time that was increasingly circumscribed by the limitations of disfranchisement and racial violence. However, a dismissal of this time as a period of acquiescence misses the rich political dynamic at play in Barber’s work and in African American life.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436177_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Kelley, Blair. "Protest in the “Age of Accommodation:” J. Max Barber and the Voice of the Negro" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436177_index.html>

APA Citation:

Kelley, B. L. "Protest in the “Age of Accommodation:” J. Max Barber and the Voice of the Negro" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p436177_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: As editor of the monthly journal the Voice of the Negro, a twenty-six year old black southerner, J. Max Barber used his post to become a prominent spokesman on behalf of the streetcar boycotts which took place in at least twenty five cities between 1900 and 1907. Barber wrote in 1904 that “the rapidity which characterizes the spread of the Jim Crow idea is simply alarming.” He warned his national audience, “With startling celerity the craze for separate street cars is spreading all over the South. Mere separation does not hurt the colored people half so much as the unjust discriminations imposed.”
The offices of the Voice were in Atlanta, Georgia where political cronyism and competition between rival streetcar companies led to the quick passage of a city ordinance segregating the cars in 1900. Even though streetcar boycotts had been short-lived in his own city of Atlanta, Barber remained an advocate of protest, frequently publicizing the southern movement to contest segregation. Barber’s leadership in the boycott movement, and his growing frustration with the destruction of black citizenship, along with the acquiescence of Booker T. Washington, led Barber to become a founding member of W.E.B. DuBois’s Niagara Movement, an organization founded in 1905 for the cause of civil rights. The articulate young editor was the strongest national spokesman for the boycotts.
Because of his insistence on agitation on behalf of “the race,” and his growing affiliation with the Niagara Movement led by W.E.B. Du Bois, Barber ran afoul of the stringent approach of Booker T. Washington. Barber was punished for his radical stance, driven out of Atlanta in the wake of the race riot of 1906 and prevented by Washington and his followers from successful restarting his career in journalism. He returned to dental school to escape to a professional career Washington could not stymie, restarting his career in activism under the banner of the local chapter of the NAACP in the 1910s and 1920s. Barber’s body of work as a journalist in excellently preserved in the Voice of the Negro.
This paper will chronicle the work of Barber, outlining his rigorous protest in a time most commonly characterized as an age of accommodation. Using Barber’s work in the Voice, I will challenge the idea of the age of accommodation. Barber’s work and the protests he chronicled, point to a more dynamic political landscape. Turn of the twentieth century black southerners lived in a time that was increasingly circumscribed by the limitations of disfranchisement and racial violence. However, a dismissal of this time as a period of acquiescence misses the rich political dynamic at play in Barber’s work and in African American life.


Similar Titles:
Where Have All the Protest Songs Gone: Protest Movement's Message And Their Voice in Politics

Explaining Government Response to Protest (Accommodation or Repression): an Institutional Explanation


 
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