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Urban Engagement Book Club: "The Making of a Racist: A Southerner Reflects...

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CitySquare Opportunity Center

Bldg #250

1610 S. Malcolm X Blvd

Dallas, TX 75226

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Urban Engagement Book Club

Presented by the CitySquare's External Affairs Department, Urban Engagement is an out of the box way to increase public awareness on issues related to our work and the conditions of those we serve, in order to foster dialogue and ongoing community awareness of key issues.

What kind of book club is the Urban Engagement Book Club? A different kind of book club! You don’t have to read the book!

Join us as Randy Mayeux presents the key content of the selected book each month, with a comprehensive handout of key quotes and key ideas from the book. Then, in conversation with a diverse group of fellow participants, we discuss the implications of the book out of our shared concern for social justice. It is a wonderful, challenging session that always puts us back in touch with the struggles of real people in an increasingly difficult time.

The Making of a Racist: A Southerner Reflects on Family, History, and the Slave Trade - Charles B. Dew

In this powerful memoir, Charles Dew, one of America’s most respected historians of the South--and particularly its history of slavery--turns the focus on his own life, which began not in the halls of enlightenment but in a society unequivocally committed to segregation.

Dew re-creates the midcentury American South of his childhood--in many respects a boy’s paradise, but one stained by Lost Cause revisionism and, worse, by the full brunt of Jim Crow. Through entertainments and "educational" books that belittled African Americans, as well as the living examples of his own family, Dew was indoctrinated in a white supremacy that, at best, was condescendingly paternalistic and, at worst, brutally intolerant. The fear that southern culture, and the "hallowed white male brotherhood," could come undone through the slightest flexibility in the color line gave the Jim Crow mindset its distinctly unyielding quality. Dew recalls his father, in most regards a decent man, becoming livid over a black tradesman daring to use the front, and not the back, door.

The second half of the book shows how this former Confederate youth and descendant of Thomas Roderick Dew, one of slavery’s most passionate apologists, went on to reject his racist upbringing and become a scholar of the South and its deeply conflicted history. The centerpiece of Dew’s story is his sobering discovery of a price circular from 1860--an itemized list of humans up for sale. Contemplating this document becomes Dew’s first step in an exploration of antebellum Richmond’s slave trade that investigates the terrible--but, to its white participants, unremarkable--inhumanity inherent in the institution.

Dew’s wish with this book is to show how the South of his childhood came into being, poisoning the minds even of honorable people, and to answer the question put to him by Illinois Browning Culver, the African American woman who devoted decades of her life to serving his family: "Charles, why do the grown-ups put so much hate in the children?"

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Location

CitySquare Opportunity Center

Bldg #250

1610 S. Malcolm X Blvd

Dallas, TX 75226

View Map

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