Skip to content

At noon on Wednesday, May 22, as part of the department’s History Is Lunch series, Stephen A. Berrey will discuss his book The Jim Crow Routine: Everyday Performances of Race, Civil Rights, and Segregation in Mississippi.

Jim Crow is usually understood in terms of legal segregation that mandated the separation of whites and blacks. Berrey shows in The Jim Crow Routine that it was also a high-stakes drama that played out in the routines of everyday life, where blacks and whites regularly interacted on sidewalks and buses and in businesses and homes.

“Every day, individuals made, unmade, and remade Jim Crow in how they played their racial roles--how they moved, talked, even gestured,” Berrey said. “The highly visible but often subtle nature of these interactions constituted the Jim Crow routine.”

Berrey argues that daily interactions between blacks and whites in the final decades of the Jim Crow era are central to understanding segregation and the racial system that followed it. “Civil rights activism, African Americans’ refusal to follow the Jim Crow script, and national perceptions of southern race relations led Mississippi segregationists to change tactics,” Berrey said. “But even as formal segregation ended, white people and those in power made adjustments to preserve white privilege and extend racial disparities into a post-Jim Crow world through violence, surveillance, and policing, rooted in a racially coded language of law and order.”

Stephen A. Berrey is assistant professor of American culture and history at the University of Michigan. His research explores the relationship between race and culture in the twentieth century U.S. Berrey’s current project is a cultural history of whiteness in small-town America. Spanning the twentieth century and encompassing the North, the Midwest, and the West, this study draws on local histories, amateur blackface performances, and interracial encounters to understand the making of race and culture in the (demographically) whitest places in the nation.

This program is made possible by the Mississippi Historical Society. Learn more about the group at The program will take place in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium in the Two Mississippi Museums--the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum--located at 222 North Street, Jackson. There is no charge to attend. Copies of the book will be for sale. For more information call 601-576-6998 or email


May 29—Hezekiah Watkins will present “Pushing Forward: The Story of Mississippi’s Youngest Freedom Rider.” Sales and signing to follow.

June 5—Scott Bell will present “The Camel Regiment: A History of the Bloody 43rd Mississippi Volunteer Infantry, CSA 1862-65.” Sales and signing to follow.

June 12—Shennette Garrett-Scott will present "'I Am Yet Waitin’: Freedwomen and the Vicksburg Freedman's Bank." Sales and signing to follow.

June 19—Tammy L. Turner will present “Dick Waterman: A Life in Blues.” Sales and signing to follow.

June 26—Roger Ward will present “A Closer Look: Silhouette Artists in Antebellum Mississippi.”

View All News Releases