Devout racism

In the early 1900s an Englishman made his way across the American South. William Archer ventured by train and on horseback, observing the region’s peculiar folkways. He met with leading men, Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois among them, and visited historic sites and thriving New South cities. For Archer the South was at once quaint, backward, hopeful, beautiful and grotesque. Relations between blacks and whites preoccupied him. In that regard, he was like so many other nonsouthern authors of Dixie travel literature—William Bartram, Henry Benjamin Whipple, Frederick Law Olmstead, V. S. Naipaul. But timing is everything.


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