Across the Kentucky Color Line by Lee Durham Stone

Across the Kentucky Color Line by Lee Durham StoneExploring racial dynamics in the context of Kentucky’s complex history, Across the Kentucky Color Line: Cultural Landscapes of Race from the Lost Cause to Integration by Lee Durham Stone is a brilliant work of sociological study.

From the color-blind struggle of miners and the gruesome history of public hangings to manifested visions of emancipation and the generations of psychic damage enacted on people of color in America, this is a relentless account of prejudice, trauma, and resilience at the dark heart of the American Dream. Interrogating the whitewashed legacy of an oppressed people through the lens of personal anecdotes, historical records, and intersectional struggles for freedom, this book fearlessly presses on old wounds of white shame and cowardly silence.

There is fluidity in the formality of Stone’s language, vacillating between lyrical turns of phrase and densely worded lines of academic analysis, keeping readers engaged by demanding their full attention. Stone molds this story with both well-known and unheard anecdotes from Kentucky’s history, then distills his presentations into powerful takeaways: “To be clear, the ‘petty apartheid’ of segregated facilities—restrooms, takeout windows, and others—was never trivial to those forced to endure them. Instead, it represented the tip of the iceberg of the systemic racism of the social order.” The energy swings from the diatribe of a passionate teacher to an eager historian and crafty storyteller, unveiling inconvenient truths along the way with bold alacrity and clear-eyed confidence.

Given the ongoing racial turmoil in so many corners of American life, this is a necessary, well-penned, and impressively researched review for anyone who wishes to learn from history, rather than repeat it.

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