When one thinks of African American history in the United States, images of slavery and the antebellum south are what invariably come to mind. While these images are indeed apt and applicable to understanding black history in the United States, as Alwyn Barr demonstrates in his text Black Texans: A History of African Americans in Texas, 1528-1995, the history of African Americans in the U.S. date farther back than slavery and encompasses regions other than what has become known as the deep south.
Evaluating the book overall, it is evident that Barr's central purpose for writing the book was to make clear how the black community and culture developed in Texas. While this is not implicitly stated, the chronological context of the books suggests that Barr is seeking to provide a cohesive history so that readers can delineate between the development of black community and culture in the South and in Texas. What Barr effectively demonstrates is that while there were indeed some similarities between blacks in the South and in Texas, overall, blacks who lived, and who still live in Texas, experienced a much different lifestyle than those in the South. Barr does not argue in favor of one way of life over the other, however; he simply states the facts and the history behind the development of this population.
Because little historical discourse on blacks in Texas has been published, Barr must rely on primary sources as his main focus for research. Although some secondary material is used, especially for analysis of modern black communities in Texas, Barr widely utilizes primary information. Seeking to assess the effectiveness of this method, it is evident that while some of the information presented in the text is somewhat dry, primary source material was best suited to meet the author's objectives overall. Because primary sources are the central focus of the work, the integrity of what Barr writes cannot be refuted.
Examining how the book enhances the reader's understanding of Texas history, it could be asserted that Barr's...