The Mongrel Regime: The Untold Story of Tennessee's African American Policemen during the New South and Jim Crow Eras, 1867-1930

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Farr, Justin
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
This work deals with a most interesting topic in Southern history that has largely been overlooked: the presence of African American police officers on the South's urban forces during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Past historians seem to have written only around a handful of journal articles concerning postbellum southern black police officers. Books on the history of blacks in southern American policing have been even scarcer. W. Marvin Dulaney, Associate Professor of History and Interim Director of the Center for African American Studies at the University of Texas, Arlington, appears to have written one of the only books on the complete history of African Americans in American law enforcement in his work, Black Police in America, which can be appropriately called “the mother of all sources” on the subject. In the second chapter of his book he takes a deep look at postbellum black appointments to southern city police departments, which began only a few years after the Civil War. The hay-day of Reconstruction brought more African Americans to these police forces. However, both the frequency of appointments and number of black officers dwindled as the nineteenth century faded away and Jim Crow began to creep its head into the picture and later force its way onto the historical scene in the South. Dulaney calls these first African American police officers “black pioneers.” Moreover, Dulaney's focus on southern black officers between 1865 and the early 1900s is limited to only two chapters, and later he devotes the vast majority of his book to exploring the better documented police integration that came during the late 1940s and after. Even with Dulaney’s valuable treatment on the subject, there has been no book that exclusively deals with the presence of African American police officers in the South during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This work is the first. All other sources that mention black officers only do so briefly in passing within a larger historical framework about another topic. Though this work devotes much time towards explaining the phenomenon of postbellum black police officers that took place across the South, the primary focus is on the appointments of African American lawmen in Tennessee, particularly in the cities of Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville. This work makes the argument that Tennessee’s post-Civil War integration of urban law enforcement, which began with Memphis in 1867, was due both to reasons that made integration possible across the South during Reconstruction (such as Republican city governments, political maneuvering, and postwar lawlessness) and to factors distinct to Tennessee and its major cities (such as disease outbreaks and city size vs. combating lawlessness).
reconstruction, African American, black police, police, Tennessee, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Tennessee police, South, law enforcement, history