A Southern Family in White and Black: The Cuneys of Texas by Douglas Hales

By Douglas Hales

The advanced problems with race and politics in nineteenth-century Texas might be nowhere extra dramatically embodied than in 3 generations of the relatives of Norris Wright Cuney, mulatto exertions and political chief. Douglas Hales explores the birthright Cuney got from his white plantation-owner father, Philip Cuney, and how his history performed out within the lifetime of his daughter Maud Cuney-Hare. This intergenerational research casts gentle at the event of race within the South prior to Emancipation, after Reconstruction, and within the diaspora that finally led cultural leaders of African American background into the towns of the North.

Most Texas background books identify Norris Wright Cuney as probably the most influential African American politicians in nineteenth-century Texas, yet they inform little approximately him past his elected positions. In The Cuneys, Douglas Hales not just fills within the information of Cuney’s existence and contributions yet areas him within the context of his family’s generations.

A politically lively plantation proprietor and slaveholder in Austin County, Philip Cuney participated within the annexation of Texas to the USA and supported the position of slavery and cotton within the constructing economic system of the hot nation. filthy rich and robust, he fathered 8 slave kids whom he later freed and observed proficient. Hales explores how and why Cuney differed from different planters of his time and place.

He then turns to the better-known Norris Wright Cuney to check how the black elite labored for political and financial chance within the reactionary interval that Reconstruction within the South. Cuney led the Texas Republican get together in these turbulent years and, via his place as choice of customs at Galveston, disbursed federal patronage to either white and black Texans. because the strongest African American in Texas, and arguably within the whole South, Cuney turned the point of interest of white hostility, from either Democrats and contributors of the “Lily White” faction of his personal social gathering. His powerful management received not just endured place of work for him but in addition a place of strength in the Republican social gathering for Texas blacks at a time while the occasion of Lincoln repudiated African americans in lots of different Southern states. From his place at the Galveston urban Council, Cuney labored tirelessly for African American schooling and challenged the domination of white hard work in the becoming unions.

Norris Wright Cuney’s daughter, Maud, who used to be graced with a prestigious schooling, pursued a profitable occupation within the arts as a live performance pianist, musicologist, and playwright. a chum of W. E. B. Du Bois, she turned actively taken with the racial uplift circulation of the early 20th century. Hales illuminates her position within the highbrow and political “awakening” of black the US that culminated within the Harlem Renaissance of the Twenties. He adroitly explores her selection opposed to “passing” as white and her dedication to uplift.

Through those 3 individuals of a unmarried mixed-race kinfolk, Douglas Hales offers perception into the problems, demanding situations, and strengths of people. His paintings provides an incredible bankruptcy to the heritage of Texas and of African americans extra broadly.

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Extra resources for A Southern Family in White and Black: The Cuneys of Texas

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I boldly affirm that Judge Morrill is unfit to occupy a place on the bench. Your presence, fellow citizens, encourages me to advance boldly in a matter in which we, the colored race, are interested. ” Greenwall continued as theater manager and continued to segregate by race. S. Supreme Court ruled the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional in . By the mid-s, segregation of public accommodations and schools in Texas became a matter of fact. Whites could assuage their consciences by supporting the idea of separate but equal.

Thomas England, owner of the steamship Jane, for example, noted that Cuney’s crew loaded thirty-five                             thousand pounds more cotton in his ship than white screwmen did in New Orleans. 28 In , after citywide recognition of his labor victory, Cuney decided to try again for municipal office. He announced for alderman of the Twelfth Ward, in which whites outnumbered blacks , to ,. Much had changed since his failed mayoral candidacy of .

Shippers, tired of the white SBA’s attitude and work slowdowns, did not flinch from hiring blacks. In his new position as a contracting stevedore and president of the union, Cuney obtained for black screwmen their first job loading the ship Albion on Morgan’s Wharf. On April , , these men showed up for work under the protection of Galveston police. Whites immediately went on strike. Shortly afterward, Captain Sawyer of the Mallory Steamship Line contacted Cuney offering another contract to replace striking screwmen on the New York dock.

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