Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
Stewart E. Tolnay has a message to deliver. In his excellent historical treatise on the family life of African American sharecroppers he counters current belief that rural Southern blacks who migrated North brought with them a dysfunctional family structure, a view espoused today by scholars as politically disparate as the liberal Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the conservative Charles Murray. Through the use of interview data gathered from the New Dears Federal Writers Project and with statistical analysis of U. S. Census data, Tolnay's seven chapters and epilogue span the years 1910-1940 from the post-Slavery period and the era of Jim Crow through the Great Depression to the dawn of WWII. His epilogue is essentially a reflection on preceding chapters but with an updated analysis of African American family life in the contemporary urban North. Tolnay's conclusion is that the lifestyles of crime and illegitimacy in the black inner city are largely a function of social and economic determinants and not cultural pathology or moral failings.
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1999