A technicolor history of the first civil rights movement and its collapse into black and white.
In The Accident of Color, Daniel Brook journeys to nineteenth-century New Orleans and Charleston and introduces us to cosmopolitan residents who elude the racial categories the rest of America takes for granted.
During Reconstruction, a movement arises as mixed-race elites make common cause with the formerly enslaved and allies at the fringes of whiteness in a bid to achieve political and social equality for all.
Activists peacefully integrate the streetcars of Charleston and New Orleans for decades and, for a time, even the New Orleans public schools and the University of South Carolina are educating students of all backgrounds side by side.
Tragically, the achievements of this movement are swept away by a violent political backlash and expunged from the history books, culminating in the Jim Crow laws that legalize segregation for a half century and usher in the binary racial regime that rules us to this day.