Been Coming through Some Hard Times

Race, History, and Memory in Western Kentucky

  • Author(s): Glazier, Jack
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2013-01-30
  • Status: Active
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“Glazier combines ethnography, history, and memory studies to construct a solid study of race relations in microcosm.” – Journal of American History

From the earliest days when enslaved people were brought to western Kentucky, the descendants of both slaves and slave owners in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, have continued to inhabit the same social and historic space. Part ethnography and part historical narrative, Been Coming through Some Hard Times offers a penetrating look at this southern town and the surrounding counties, delving particularly into the ways in which its inhabitants have remembered and publicly represented race relations in their community.

Glazier’s personal investment in this subject is clear. Been Coming through Some Hard Times began as an exploration of the life of James Bass, an African American who settled in Hopkinsville in 1890 and whose daughter, Idella Bass, cared for Glazier as a child. Her remarkable life profoundly influenced Glazier and led him to investigate her family’s roots in the town. This personal dimension makes Glazier’s ethnohistorical account especially nuanced and moving. Here is a uniquely revealing look at how the racial injustices of the past impinge quietly but insidiously upon the present in a distinctive, understudied region.

In a new foreword, historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage writes: “[Glazier] reveals the sinews of family, community, and heritage that bind—and divide—the contemporary residents of Christian County. We learn of the enduring legacies of the past that permeate contemporary life there, and by the end of the book Glazier demonstrates that many of the traditions that loom largest in western Kentucky are not those commonly associated with the mythic South.”

JACK GLAZIER is a professor of anthropology at Oberlin College. He is the author of Dispersing the Ghetto: The Relocation of Jewish Immigrants across America and Land and the Uses of Tradition among the Mbeere of Kenya.