Front Porch: First Peoples

Charlie Warriax (left) and Simeon Oxendine (right) wearing the captured KKK banner around their shoulders, photo courtesy of the Charlotte Observer Photograph Collection, Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County.

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Front Porch: First Peoples

by Harry L. Watson
Southern Cultures, Vol. 14, No. 4: First Peoples

"The South's first people were neither black, nor white, and they have never disappeared."

People often think of the South as a place of two races, black and white. Slavery and segregation, Civil War and Civil Rights dominate historical memory. Whether good, bad, or indifferent, “race relations” always seem to imply relations between blacks and whites. Historian Eugene Genovese exaggerated when he observed of slaves and their owners that “neither could express the simplest human feelings without reference to the other,” but the classic racial binary seems to dominate most of southern history, from 1619 down to the latest opinion poll.