In bookstores beginning October 6, 2013


"Pellom McDaniels stitched together the compelling facts and lost details of Isaac Burns Murphy's life so artfully, I felt as if I were living it with him.  Anyone who is striving to understand how and why professional athletics tends to function as a bellwether for racial change in America, good or bad, must reads this book." 

Sonya Ross, Race and Ethnicity Editor for the Associated Press


"A persuasive blend of storytelling and historical analysis, this is an enlightening account for horsemen, sports lovers, and historians of post Reconstruction-era American race relations.  Pellom McDaniels' success is that he brings into sharp relief the devolving social and cultural context of African-American jockey Isaac Burns Murphy's childhood, apprenticeship, and career.  The author convinces the reader of Murphy's personal discipline and singular achievements--enabled despite as increasingly hostile environment by the support of family and the larger African-American community's commitment to the project of self-advancement."

Myra Young Armstead, Bard College,  Author of Freedom's Gardner: James F. Brown, Horticulture, and the Hudson Valley in Antebellum America 


"We have waited a long time for a scholar to pull together the story of Isaac Murphy and nineteenth century American and Kentucky life with the exquisite interpretation that Pellom McDaniels offers in this manuscript.  This work is path-breaking for the detailed study it offers into the texture and layers of life in Lexington, particularly black Lexington, during the post-Civil War decades and into the Gilded Age."  

Maryjean Wall, author of How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gambles, and Breeders


McDaniels (African American studies, Emory Univ.) came across the story of Isaac Murphy (1861–96) while researching the importance of sports to African Americans during the mid- to late 19th century. He learned that Murphy was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times and remains the only rider to have a 44 percent rate of victory in his Thoroughbred horse racing career. In post–Civil War horse racing, black jockeys were in the majority. Murphy and his wife rose to be among the black upper middle class in Lexington, KY. They became prominent examples that those born to slaves or former slaves could rise above their poor beginnings and even gain wealth. However, Murphy’s very success proved alarming to many whites. When African American jockeys began earning very good incomes, race horse owners and white jockeys took measures to force them out of the sport. McDaniels relies on the era’s newspaper records, census records, and legal documents to trace Murphy, who left no papers.Verdict: This book is an overdue full treatment of Murphy and his fate. It’s a fine complement to Maryjean Wall’s How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders and should be read by students of Southern history, African American history, and Thoroughbred horse racing.—

Patsy Gray, Library Journal


McDaniels provides the first definitive biography of Mr. Murphy, whose life spanned the Civil War, Reconstruction and the adoption of Jim Crow legislation. -- baltimoresun.com

In The Prince of Jockeys, McDaniels provides the first definitive biography of Mr. Murphy, whose life spanned the Civil War, Reconstruction and the adoption of Jim Crow legistlation. Despite the obstacles he faced, Mr. Murphy became an important figure - not just in sports, but in the social, political and cultural consciousness of African Americans. McDaniels discusses how Mr. Murphy epitomized the rise of the black middle class and contributed to the construction of popular notions about African American identity, community and citizenship during his lifetime. --Aegis -- Aegis

Like its subject, The Prince of Jockeys is layered and thoughtful, an accessible read that demonstrates how an extraordinary man's life reflected the complex struggles of African Americans in the late nineteenth century. -- Ohio Valley History


Pellom McDaniels III...brings a vivid depth and scope to a forgotten legend in sports history. -- The Atlanta Voice




                                                                                                                                                                                       


Isaac Burns Murphy (1861–1896) was one of the most dynamic jockeys of his era. Still considered one of the finest riders of all time, Murphy was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times, and his 44 percent win record remains unmatched. Despite his success, Murphy was pushed out of Thoroughbred racing when African American jockeys were forced off the track, and he died in obscurity.
 

In The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy, author Pellom McDaniels III offers the first definitive biography of this celebrated athlete, whose life spanned the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the adoption of Jim Crow legislation. Despite the obstacles he faced, Murphy became an important figure—not just in sports, but in the social, political, and cultural consciousness of African Americans. Drawing from legal documents, census data, and newspapers, this comprehensive profile explores how Murphy epitomized the rise of the black middle class and contributed to the construction of popular notions about African American identity, community, and citizenship during his lifetime.
 









 This project was supported by the following grants and fellowships

                          

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