Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South: African Americans and Law Enforcement in Birmingham, Memphis, and New Orleans, 1920-1945


Product Details

LSU Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.69 inches | 1.19 pounds

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About the Author

Brandon T. Jett is professor of history at Florida SouthWestern State College. In 2017, he was awarded a William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Early Career Scholar Fellowship.


Brandon Jett shatters some widely held axioms about policing in the American South, showing how police departments emerged in lockstep with urbanization - not slavery - and evolved in complex ways, from mechanisms of racial control to entities that relied on Black cooperation and consent. Jett's book should be required reading for anyone interested in the complex story of race and policing in the United States.--Anders Walker, author of "The Burning House: Jim Crow and the Making of Modern America"
Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South will have an immediate impact on the understanding of race and policing in America. Brandon Jett vividly illustrates the continuous maltreatment of blacks by the criminal justice system and how African Americans responded in myriad, and at times unexpected, ways to the expansion of that system. This is important work.--Dwight Watson, author of "Race and the Houston Police Department, 1930-1990: A Change Did Come"
With depth and nuance, Brandon Jett examines the rise of professional police departments in three southern cities in the midst of the Jim Crow Era. He shows how law enforcement served to reinforce white supremacy, how African Americans responded to the often brutal over policing of their neighborhoods, and how they negotiated the policing system to ensure the safety of their communities. This is a remarkably intelligent and well-researched book that will contribute much to our understandings of the history of criminal justice in the South and urban life under Jim Crow.--Amy L. Wood, author of "Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1880-1940"
From the dustiest corners of law enforcement archives, Brandon Jett has unearthed the chilling history of southern white police departments that even in the middle of the 20th Century ruthlessly pursued the enforcement of degrading racial expectations, aiding the exploitation of African-American labor, and unjustly brutalizing and intimidating black citizens away from their civil, political and legal rights. This is the foundational story of why the Black Lives Matter movement is not just necessary but long overdue.--Douglas A. Blackmon, author of "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II," winner of the Pulitzer Prize