This essay traced the emergence of African-American ethnicity and the subsequent evolution of the color line in five topics: It explained how the imposition of a unique endogamous color line eventually led to the synthesis of a unique ethno-cultural African-American community in the Jacksonian Northeast. It outlined the features of the Black Yankee ethnic group to show that its customs became an important source of many of today’s Black traditions. It introduced an integration-versus-separatism debate that has occupied Black political leaders since colonial times. It contrasted the harsh enforcement of the intermarriage barrier in the free states with its non-enforcement in the lower South. It presented graphs showing that endogamous group membership was most hotly contested in U.S. courts between 1840 and 1869, and that the color line grew abruptly stronger during Reconstruction, was at its harshest during Jim Crow, and began to recover only around 1980.
This was the last of eight essays that depicted the evolution of the U.S. endogamous color line, from its invention in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake, to its synthesis of a Black Yankee ethnicity in the Jacksonian Northeast.
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