The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862-1916


The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862-1916

Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly

Borderlands and Transcultural Studies Series

318 pages
7 photographs, 3 illustrations, index


October 2019


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2019


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2019


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862–1916, Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly examines generations of mixed-race African Americans after the Civil War and into the Progressive Era, skillfully tracking the rise of a leadership class in Black America made up largely of individuals who had complex racial ancestries, many of whom therefore enjoyed racial options to identity as either Black or White. Although these people might have chosen to pass as White to avoid the racial violence and exclusion associated with the dominant racial ideology of the time, they instead chose to identify as Black Americans, a decision that provided upward mobility in social, political, and economic terms.

Dineen-Wimberly highlights African American economic and political leaders and educators such as P. B. S. Pinchback, Theophile T. Allain, Booker T. Washington, and Frederick Douglass as well as women such as Josephine B. Willson Bruce and E. Azalia Hackley who were prominent clubwomen, lecturers, educators, and settlement house founders. In their quest for leadership within the African American community, these leaders drew on the concept of Blackness as a source of opportunities and power to transform their communities in the long struggle for Black equality.

The Allure of Blackness among Mixed-Race Americans, 1862–1916 confounds much of the conventional wisdom about racially complicated people and details the manner in which they chose their racial identity and ultimately overturns the “passing” trope that has dominated so much Americanist scholarship and social thought about the relationship between race and social and political transformation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 


Author Bio

Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly is a professor of history at University of LaVerne, Point Mugu. She is the coeditor of Shape Shifters: Journeys across Terrains of Race and Identity (Nebraska, 2019).


“In this masterful study Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly has administered a powerful antidote to the historical amnesia that has clouded—or nearly erased—our understanding of mixed-race, Black-identified Americans who played important roles in politics, artistic performance, business, and diplomatic relations. . . . Admirably researched and written with éclat, The Allure of Blackness sparkles with life stories rarely encountered in the history books from which young Americans derive their understanding of our past—and how it has affected the world we live in today.”—Gary B. Nash, professor emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles and author of Forbidden Love: The Hidden History of Mixed-Race America

“With The Allure of Blackness, Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly positions herself as the preeminent interpreter of the Black elite of a century ago, as she challenges the binary assumptions of monoracialist interpreters, for whom one can be only Black or White. She reveals complicated strains of class positioning and racial reasoning that other authors have missed entirely or simplified greatly. Her book is utterly original, based on vast acquaintance with extant literature, and enriched by monumental archival digging. Professor Dineen-Wimberly will cause a major rethinking of the purposes, motivations, and strategies of these crucial generations of Black leaders.”—Paul Spickard, Distinguished Professor of History and Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara

“A masterful examination. Dineen-Wimberly brings considerable depth, breadth, and nuance to explaining the disproportionate number of mixed-race individuals among the ranks of African American leadership. The riveting first-person testimony of mixed-race individuals themselves is an indispensable component of her analysis. Consequently, this book will be essential reading for scholars and students alike.”—G. Reginald Daniel, professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
1. “As a Negro I Will Be Powerful”: The Leadership of P. B. S. Pinchback    
2. Postbellum Strategies to Retain Power and Status: From Political Appointments to Property Ownership    
3. New Challenges and Opportunities for Leadership: From Domestic Immigration to “The Consul’s Burden”    
4. “Lifting as We Climb”: The Other Side of Uplift    


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