A Southern Family in White and Black: The Cuneys of Texas: by Douglas Hales

By Douglas Hales

The advanced problems with race and politics in nineteenth-century Texas might be nowhere extra dramatically embodied than in 3 generations of the relations of Norris Wright Cuney, mulatto hard work and political chief. Douglas Hales explores the birthright Cuney got from his white plantation-owner father, Philip Cuney, and how his background performed out within the lifetime of his daughter Maud Cuney-Hare. This intergenerational learn casts gentle at the event of race within the South ahead of Emancipation, after Reconstruction, and within the diaspora that finally led cultural leaders of African American historical past into the towns of the North.

Most Texas historical past books identify Norris Wright Cuney as some of the most influential African American politicians in nineteenth-century Texas, yet they inform little approximately him past his elected positions. In The Cuneys, Douglas Hales not just fills within the info of Cuney’s existence and contributions yet locations him within the context of his family’s generations.

A politically lively plantation proprietor and slaveholder in Austin County, Philip Cuney participated within the annexation of Texas to the USA and supported the function of slavery and cotton within the constructing financial system of the recent country. filthy rich and robust, he fathered 8 slave kids whom he later freed and observed expert. Hales explores how and why Cuney differed from different planters of his time and place.

He then turns to the better-known Norris Wright Cuney to review how the black elite labored for political and fiscal chance within the reactionary interval that Reconstruction within the South. Cuney led the Texas Republican occasion in these turbulent years and, via his place as number of customs at Galveston, dispensed federal patronage to either white and black Texans. because the strongest African American in Texas, and arguably within the complete South, Cuney grew to become the point of interest of white hostility, from either Democrats and contributors of the “Lily White” faction of his personal social gathering. His potent management gained not just endured place of work for him but additionally a place of strength in the Republican celebration for Texas blacks at a time whilst the celebration of Lincoln repudiated African american citizens in lots of different Southern states. From his place at the Galveston urban Council, Cuney labored tirelessly for African American schooling and challenged the domination of white hard work in the transforming into unions.

Norris Wright Cuney’s daughter, Maud, who was once graced with a prestigious schooling, pursued a winning occupation within the arts as a live performance pianist, musicologist, and playwright. a pal of W. E. B. Du Bois, she turned actively fascinated by the racial uplift flow of the early 20th century. Hales illuminates her position within the highbrow and political “awakening” of black the United States that culminated within the Harlem Renaissance of the Nineteen Twenties. He adroitly explores her selection opposed to “passing” as white and her dedication to uplift.

Through those 3 participants of a unmarried mixed-race relations, Douglas Hales offers perception into the problems, demanding situations, and strengths of people. His paintings provides an immense bankruptcy to the background of Texas and of African american citizens extra broadly.

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