* Sterling Brown's A Negro Looks at the South Edited by John Edgar Tidwell and Mark A. Sanders Oxford University Press April 2007, $35 ISBN 0-195-31399-2
One of the icons in black letters, Sterling A. Brown was a poet, teacher, critic, essayist and folklorist in the early part of the last century; and he had a profound effect on generations of post-war African American poets and writers.
Editors Tidwell and Sanders reshaped some of Brown's finest work in A Negro Looks at the South, a series of uncompleted essays about the incredible effect of the World War II upon the post-Depression era blacks dealing with the harsh restrictions of Jim Crow. The professor traveled extensively during the 1920s and '30s, interviewing blacks from all walks of life. The two editors, Tidwell, an associate professor of English at the University of Kansas, and Sanders, an associate professor of African American studies and English at Emory University, gathered these previously unpublished excerpts from Howard University's mammoth manuscript collection.
The topics Brown examines in his book are: the political and social progress of the South under Jim Crow; the traditional symbols of the Old South; white empowerment; the cotton industry; black farmers; inferior black education; black college life; jitterbugs; a Duke Ellington concert; Basin Street and a tour of Old New Orleans; patriotism; black soldiers; the artistry of the blues; the activism of the black church; Booker T. Washington; and countless other subjects. As a chronicler of his day, Brown puts his journalistic skills to full use, surpassing the excellence of oral history tales by Chicago reporter Studs Turkel and even lames Agee's...