Imperium in Imperio (1899) was the first black novel to countenance openly the possibility of organised black violence against Jim Crow segregation. Its author, a Baptist minister and newspaper editor from Texas, Sutton E. Griggs (1872-1933), would go on to publish four more novels; establish his own publishing company, one of the first secular publishing houses owned and operated by an African American in the United States; and help to found the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Tennessee. Alongside W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, Griggs was a key political and literary voice for black education and political rights against Jim Crow.
Jim Crow, Literature, and the Legacy of Sutton E. Griggs examines the wide scope of Griggs's influence on African American literature and politics at the turn of the twentieth century. Contributors engage Griggs's five novels and his numerous works of nonfiction, as well as his publishing and religious careers. By taking up Griggs's work, these essays open up a new historical perspective on African American literature and the terms that continue to shape American political thought and culture.
Tess Chakkalakal is an associate professor of Africana studies and English at Bowdoin College. She is the author of Novel Bondage: Slavery, Marriage, and Freedom in Nineteenth-Century America. Kenneth W. Warren is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English at the University of Chicago. He is the author of What Was African American Literature?, So Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism, and Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism.