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White Man’s Burden. A Personal Testament. [Presentation Copy]
White Man’s Burden. A Personal Testament. [Presentation Copy]

White Man’s Burden. A Personal Testament. [Presentation Copy]

Racial understanding at an all-black school for girls in Alabama

Kansas native, Ruth Smith, a white woman school teacher of Nordic descent, removes to Alabama to teach in an all black school for girls.  In the deep South, the author encounters racism and the sinister effects of the Ku Klux Klan; an environment where a black college student is killed by a mob of men after he is falsely accused of attacking a white man. An environment where the Smith’s school is frequently harassed by the Klan who give inflammatory orations of hatred and then burn crosses in the schoolyard. Smith rebels by identifying herself with the local black community in Alabama, and engaging in civil rights tactics, such as defiantly seating herself in the Jim crow sections of streetcars and buses; from our understanding, a one-woman wrecking crew against prejudice and discrimination, against the status quo color barrier. Smith’s message is one of racial equality and peace, especially interesting given the time period; White Man’s Burden was published one year after the end of the Second World War, and observations such as: “Once the colored world has been broken up–or once one has been broken up to it–there is no retreating to what one was before the experience. For the new set of values lie deeper…” ( p158) Inscribed and signed by Smith on the front free endpaper. Very scarce to find, thus.

Description: White Man’s Burden. A Personal Testament. [Presentation Copy]

New York: The Vanguard Press, (1946). First Edition. Presentation Copy. Small octavo. Cloth. Very good in a good dust jacket with various small chips.



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