Whites feared ‘trifles’ could grow into ‘thunder-bolts’

“Comparing race relations in the early 20th century to what they had been like after Reconstruction, a [white] North Carolinian lamented the extent to which blacks showed disdain for the old customs, monopolizing, for example, the inner side of the sidewalks once deemed the white man’s ‘right of way.’

“This was no small matter. Such ‘assertions of independence’ and ‘racial equality,’ if tolerated, were bound to have disastrous consequences.

” ‘When the whites yield in what would be usually called “trifles,” they may some day discover that little by little these trifles have grown into “thunder-bolts.” ‘ ”

— From “Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow” by Leon F. Litwack (2010)

 

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