Lynch mobs, chain gangs, and popular views of black southern criminals that defined the Jim Crow South are well known. We know less about the role of the urban North in shaping views of race and crime in American society.
Following the 1890 census—the first to measure the generation of African Americans born after slavery—crime statistics, new migration and immigration trends, and symbolic references to America as the promised land of opportunity were woven into a cautionary tale about the exceptional threat black people posed to modern urban society. Excessive arrest rates and overrepresentation in northern prisons were seen by many whites—liberals and conservatives, northerners and southerners—as indisputable proof of blacks' inferiority. In the heyday of "separate but equal," what else but pathology could explain black failure in the "land of opportunity?"
The idea of black criminality was crucial to the making of modern urban America, as were African Americans' own ideas about race and crime. Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, this fascinating book reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.
Mirron Willis has narrated over 200 audiobooks across various literary genres and has won several Earphone Awards for Excellence and is an Audie Award finalist and winner. Notable works include Ginny Gall by Charlie Smith, The Smokey Dalton Series by Kris Nelscott; My Song: A Memoir by Harry Belafonte; The Long Fall (Booklist, Best of 2009) and others by Walter Mosley; Uncle Tom's Cabin, Elijah of Buxton, The Translator; and Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B Dubois.
In three seasons at the Ensemble Theatre (Houston, Texas), Mirron appeared as JP in What I Learned in Paris, Malcolm X in The Meeting, Henry in Race, and as Countee Cullen in Knock Me a Kiss (2013 Giorgee Award for Best Leading Actor). Other roles include Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry VI Parts 2 & 3, and A Raisin in the Sun with the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He has also performed as guest narrator with the Houston Symphony.
Film and TV guest appearances include Criminal Minds, Private Practice, The Exes, Monk, 24, Seinfeld, Cheers, The Parkers, Living Single, E.R., Star Trek, and Independence Day, among others. Mirron resides and records audiobooks on his family's historic ranch in East Texas.