STRANGE FRUIT: Racism and Community Life in the Chesapeake—1850 to the Present

STRANGE FRUIT: Racism and Community Life in the Chesapeake—1850 to the Present
New Academia Publishing, 2021
240
ISBN 978-1-7359378-4-7 paperback
See an excerpt from the book.

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About the Author

John R. Wennersten is a Curator-Consultant at the Smithsonian InstitutionHis fields of specialization are environmental history and environmental policy. He has been selected as Humanities Scholar for Maryland, Maryland Humanities Council; Editorial Board, Maryland Online Encyclopedia, a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He also serves as occasional visiting professor on water policy for the Association of Indian Science Museums in Calcutta. He is the author of many books and articles, and his current research concerns climate refugees and human rights and citizenship issues of those displaced by climate change. He lives in Washington, DC.

STRANGE FRUIT

From the author: “I have written this book about Somerset County and the surrounding region with a specific purpose in mind – to trace the course of racism and society in a tidewater county in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay country from 1850 to the present. Tidewater Somerset provides us with a palette for understanding racism and the evolution of racial ideas often overlooked by scholars.  I have sought to ascertain what specific influences and trends, as well as political and cultural developments have played out at the micro-level in Maryland over time that might test or call into question assumptions about the nature of race relations that we have on the national level.  My remarks, both scholarly and personal, will help us find our way in the story of race in the Chesapeake Bay country.  Race provides the scaffolding, the frame that forms the underside of our national story.  And in this story we will see Black actors in the human drama of oppression and freedom living lives that are both critical and self-aware.”

This is a book about Somerset County and the surrounding region, which traces the course of racism and society in a tidewater county in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay country from 1850 to the present. Tidewater Somerset provides us with a palette for understanding racism and the evolution of racial ideas often overlooked by scholars. The book examines specific influences and trends, as well as political and cultural developments, which have played out at the micro-level in Maryland over time, and which might test or call into question assumptions about the nature of race relations at the national level.

 

 Praise

“Strange Fruit is high quality. For that reason, it can be more than the history of this one community; it can be a model for how to write such histories and how to do this well.”

—James H. Johnston, Public Historian and published author.

 

“Eastern Shore white traditionalists have long resisted telling the true and complete story of their history, which mirrors similar trajectories of other counties and communities south of the Mason-Dixon Line.  The country, I believe, desperately needs to to know, acknowledge and own it—all of it.”

Eugene L. Meyer, columnist for The New York Times and independent author.

 

“This book shows the historical significance and relevance of the subject, particularly now that race has become such an integral part of the American narrative. It also demonstrates the richness of the documentary resources Wennersten tapped to tell the story.”

—Donald A. Ritchie, U.S. Senate Historian Emeritus

 

“Although amateur historians try to write local histories, they usually fail.  Strange Fruit is high quality. For that reason, it can be more than the history of one community; it can be a model for how to write such histories and how to do it well.”

James H. Johnston, author of  From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamut