Sorting Out: Racism and the New South

December 23, 2019

Passages, Conversations and Good Samaritan classes will combine Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. for this two-part series in February.

February 9: As we look at racism in our city, let’s start by grounding ourselves in our faith and what we believe Jesus is calling us to do. Join Hal Clarke, who will talk about his experience in struggling with these questions:

  • As a follower of Jesus, how should I think about prejudice, injustice, and poverty in Charlotte?
  • If I were explaining to Jesus face to face how I live my life in Charlotte, how would Jesus challenge me?
  • What are the myths that I tell myself that Jesus would debunk?
  • What am I called to do differently?

Feb. 16: Dr. Tom Hanchett will talk about the new edition of his book Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875–1975, which traces how Charlotte grew big — and explores the surprising history of how it became segregated, both racially and economically.

Dr. Hanchett, recently retired from Levine Museum of the New South, is now the Historian-in-Residence with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Dr. Hanchett’s book will be for sale in Historical Lobby on the day of the class.

Here are some comments about the book:

One of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the South, Charlotte, North Carolina, came of age in the New South decades of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, transforming itself from a rural courthouse village to the trading and financial hub of America’s premier textile manufacturing region. In this book, Thomas W. Hanchett traces the city’s spatial evolution over the course of a century, exploring the interplay of national trends and local forces that shaped Charlotte and, by extension, other New South urban centers.

Hanchett argues that racial and economic segregation are not age-old givens but products of a decades-long process. Well after the Civil War, Charlotte’s whites and blacks, workers and business owners, lived in intermingled neighborhoods. The rise of large manufacturing enterprises in the 1880s and 1890s brought social and political upheaval, however, and the city began to sort out into a “checkerboard” of distinct neighborhoods segregated by both race and class. When urban renewal and other federal funds became available in the mid-twentieth century, local leaders used the money to complete the sorting-out process, creating a “sector” pattern in which wealthy whites increasingly lived on one side of town and blacks on the other. A new preface by the author confronts the contemporary implications of Charlotte’s resegregation and prospects for its reversal.  – Amazon

Tom Hanchett’s Sorting Out the New South City [discovers] surprising things about the development of Southern cities. The segregated Southern city of the mid-20th century originated not in the Old South or the early decades of the New; during those periods, the distribution of races throughout the city was in a ‘salt and pepper’ pattern. Urban segregation, Mr. Hanchett suggests, was a later creation, part of the rebellion against Reconstruction. Segregation was not a tradition; it was literally reactionary, a 20th-century reversal.”—The New York Times