David M. Oshinsky

The 1997 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award was given to David M. Oshinsky for Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice.

Drawing on prison records, state archives, legislative hearings, court proceedings, folklore, and the blues, Oshinksy reconstructed the harrowing history of Parchman Farm, the state penitentiary in Mississippi. Worse Than Slavery provides a stark and unflinching look at a tragic episode in the chronicle of race and justice in America. This impressive work of historical scholarship reminds us once again that the abolition of slavery did not end the institutionalized oppression of African-Americans.