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Aristocrats of Color
The Black Elite, 1880–1920

Willard B. Gatewood

This monumental work is a classic study of the black "aristocracy" which developed in the United States in the years following Reconstruction.

Every American city had a small, self-aware, and active black elite, who felt it was their duty to set the standard for the less fortunate members of their race and to lead their communities by example. Rank within this black upper class rested on such issues as the status of one's forebears as either house servants or field hands, the darkness of one's skin, and the level of one's manners and education.

Professor Gatewood's study examines this class of African Americans by looking at the genealogies and occupations of specific families and individuals throughout the United States and their roles in their various communities. The resulting narrative is a full and illuminating account of a most influential segment of the African-American population. It explores fully the distinctive background, prestige, attitudes, behavior, power, and culture of this class. The Black Community Studies series from the University of Arkansas Press, edited by Professor Gatewood, continues to examine many of the same themes first explored in this important study.

"A compelling story of proud and talented people. Gatewood's narrative is sensitive and objective, and it is always good reading."

—David Edwin Harrell, Jr., University of Alabama

464 pages, 64 illustrations
$25.95 paper (s)
978-1-55728-593-5 | 1-55728-593-4

Willard B. Gatewood is Alumni Distinguished Professor of History emeritus at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and the author or co-author of eleven other books, including Black Americans and the White Man's Burden 1898–1903 (1975, University of Illinois Press).



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