GAMBIER — Andrew Kahrl, associate professor of history at Marquette University and a 2001 graduate of Kenyon College, returns to his native Mount Vernon on Friday at 1 p.m. to discuss his book “The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South” at Paragraphs Bookstore.
Kahrl will put a Knox County twist on his talk about land development and answer questions at the bookstore, 229 S. Main St., Mount Vernon. In his book, published by Harvard University Press, Kahrl traces the history of Sunbelt, beach-front properties once owned and developed by African Americans. The author traces the social and environmental evolution of the properties along the Chesapeake Bay, the Carolinas coast of the Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico.
“His careful reconstruction of African American life, labor, and leisure in small ocean-side communities reveals the variety of ways African Americans pursued freedom and mobility through the land under their feet,” the publisher says in a statement. Kahrl examines the widespread campaigns to dispossess African Americans of the properties that were ripe for development on a grander scale. “Kahrl offers readers a thoughtful, judicious appraisal of the ambiguous legacy of racial progress in the Sunbelt,” the publisher says.
The literary critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. described the book as “a careful, rich, and provocative book that contributes significantly to our understanding of race in 20th-century America.”
In his talk, Kahrl will draw connections between the history of these coastal properties and the changes in the Knox County rural landscape during the same period. Kahrl is the son of Tim and Susan Kahrl of Mount Vernon.
To learn more about the talk, call Paragraphs Bookstore, 740-392-9290.
Published on May 22, 2012