"The Best of Enemies" by Osha Gray Davidson, Introduction–Chapter 1

Journalist Osha Gray Davidson traces the battle to integrate the schools in Durham, North Carolina in the 1960s, focusing on the unlikely friendship between a civil rights activist and a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Here are links to our lists for the book: Introduction–Chapter 1, Chapters 2–3, Chapters 4–5, Chapters 6–7, Chapter 8, Chapters 9–10, Chapter 11–Epilogue
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definitions & notes only words
  1. rut
    a settled and monotonous routine that is hard to escape
    The harder he worked, the deeper C.P. sank into the very rut that had swallowed his father, even as he watched the less talented and shiftless children of the wealthy prosper.
  2. shiftless
    lacking ambition or initiative
    The harder he worked, the deeper C.P. sank into the very rut that had swallowed his father, even as he watched the less talented and shiftless children of the wealthy prosper.
  3. rapine
    the act of despoiling a country in warfare
    Ignorance, Lust and Hate seized the reins of State, and riot, rapine and universal ruin reigned supreme...
  4. pernicious
    exceedingly harmful
    ...the highest form of cultured society was thrust down and its noble neck was forced under the iron heel of pernicious passion who yielded a potent scepter of inquisitorial oppression...
  5. florid
    elaborately or excessively ornamented
    This florid version of the myth is from the Kloran, the self-described “sacred book” of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the United Klans of America, the organization in which C.P. found a home and a purpose, and where he rose to become the Exalted Cyclops.
  6. pretense
    the act of giving a false appearance
    It appropriates billions, as directed by the President, on the pretense of helping the poor.
  7. rail
    complain bitterly
    When Helms railed that “we must decide whether we will be ruled by sanity or ruined by savagery,” his audience knew exactly which “savages” Helms meant.
  8. preclude
    keep from happening or arising
    Ann Atwater grew up poor, black, and female in the mid-twentieth-century South, all circumstances that precluded her from buying into the myths that beguiled C.P.
  9. beguile
    influence by slyness
    Ann Atwater grew up poor, black, and female in the mid-twentieth-century South, all circumstances that precluded her from buying into the myths that beguiled C.P.
  10. integration
    incorporating a racial or religious group into a community
    Editorials by Austin, an uncompromising advocate of integration and full rights for blacks, had a national audience.
  11. segregation
    a social system with separate facilities for minority groups
    In 1933, Austin and a small group of supporters attempted to enroll a black student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—the first legal challenge to segregation in higher education in America.
  12. natty
    marked by up-to-dateness in dress and manners
    A nattily dressed C. C. Spaulding, 1905.
  13. eschew
    avoid and stay away from deliberately
    Spaulding represented a new kind of Southern black businessman, eschewing the servile role whites demanded of blacks.
  14. servile
    submissive or fawning in attitude or behavior
    Spaulding represented a new kind of Southern black businessman, eschewing the servile role whites demanded of blacks.
  15. boycott
    refusal to have commercial dealings with some organization
    When King started the 1956 Birmingham bus boycott, Moore had urged his friend to take the action nationwide, but King was not prepared to lead a mass movement at the time.
  16. militant
    disposed to warfare or hard-line policies
    C.P. Ellis, Exalted Cyclops of the Durham Ku Klux Klan (behind counter) with Ann Atwater, leader of United Organizations for Community Improvement, a militant black protest group, at the opening of the school charrette, an effort to help Durham deal with problems associated with court-ordered school desegregation.
  17. gamely
    in a plucky or sporting manner
    The truly daring, however, gamely climbed into a rattan gondola, felt hats or straw bowlers grasped tightly in hand as a hot-air balloon lofted them skyward.
  18. din
    a loud harsh or strident noise
    They rose with surprising speed into the clear North Carolina air until the din of Lakewood was a distant murmur and the entire city of Durham lay beneath them.
  19. promontory
    a natural elevation
    Hills flattened into nothingness, lowlands rose until they merged with promontories, and every part of Durham was revealed and intelligible in the gelid light.
  20. gelid
    extremely cold
    Hills flattened into nothingness, lowlands rose until they merged with promontories, and every part of Durham was revealed and intelligible in the gelid light.
  21. torpid
    slow and apathetic
    Isolated, torpid, tattered little Durham had become the envy of the South.
  22. morose
    showing a brooding ill humor
    Morose by nature, there was little in his present circumstance to give Johnston any cheer.
  23. squalid
    foul and run-down and repulsive
    The returning soldiers carried the only booty available in the squalid town: the pale golden leaves of “bright” tobacco.
  24. parlay
    stake winnings from one bet on a subsequent wager
    Green started Durham down the tobacco-lined path of prosperity, but another family, of even humbler origins, was responsible for parlaying his good luck into a business empire rivaling the railroad and oil trusts of the North.
  25. ardent
    characterized by strong enthusiasm
    An ardent Methodist, he was an abstemious, plain-spoken man, tall and muscular, with a dry sense of humor.
  26. abstemious
    marked by temperance in indulgence
    An ardent Methodist, he was an abstemious, plain-spoken man, tall and muscular, with a dry sense of humor.
  27. secession
    formal separation from an alliance or federation
    Like many citizens of the upper South, Duke opposed secession.
  28. frugality
    prudence in avoiding waste
    The W. Duke and Sons company grew steadily, thanks to the Dukes’ hard work and frugality (“Wash” Duke and his sons slept in a single bed set up inside their factory).
  29. patriarch
    the male head of family or tribe
    “There are three things I never could understand,” the aging patriarch once confessed. “Electricity, the Holy Ghost, and my son Buck."
  30. mechanization
    the act of using technology to automate a process or system
    But mechanization wasn’t Duke’s only weapon in the struggle for market dominance.
  31. lascivious
    driven by lust
    The last technique moved his prudish father to fire off a letter complaining about the “ lascivious photographs.”
  32. insinuate
    introduce or insert in a subtle manner
    Even with his machines humming and advertisements for his products insinuating themselves into all aspects of American life, Duke wasn’t satisfied with his market share.
  33. acquisitiveness
    strong desire to obtain and possess
    With that achieved, Duke had turned his enormous talents (and equally immense acquisitiveness) to other areas, and with similar results.
  34. bequeath
    leave or give, especially by will after one's death
    I bequeath you my troubles and debts.
  35. pragmatist
    an adherent of a theory of observable practical consequences
    Always the pragmatist, however, Spaulding developed a strategy to win blacks over.
  36. adage
    a condensed but memorable saying embodying an important fact
    That fine spiritual fruit of honest toil, well expressed in the adage, “Live and let live,” has characterized the attitude of the leading white men toward the colored race.
  37. patronize
    treat condescendingly
    This means that the Negro has been allowed to stand on his own merit; he has not been patronized as a dependent, neither has he met enmity and persecution because of his success or failure.
  38. enmity
    a state of deep-seated ill-will
    This means that the Negro has been allowed to stand on his own merit; he has not been patronized as a dependent, neither has he met enmity and persecution because of his success or failure.
  39. eminent
    standing above others in quality or position
    And Durham’s reputation as a model for race relations was solidified in 1925 when the eminent black sociologist E. Franklin Frazier declared the city the "Capital of the Black Middle Class...”
  40. comity
    a state or atmosphere of harmony or mutual civility
    The U.S. State Department regularly brought African dignitaries to the city, to show the world that the stories in the sensationalist press about race problems in America were exaggerated or exceptions to the rule of racial comity.

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