Defending White Democracy

Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965

JASON MORGAN WARD
Copyright Date: 2011
DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807869222_ward
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  • Book Info
    Defending White Democracy
    Book Description:

    After the Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional in 1954, southern white backlash seemed to explode overnight. Journalists profiled the rise of a segregationist movement committed to preserving the "southern way of life" through a campaign of massive resistance. InDefending White Democracy, Jason Morgan Ward reconsiders the origins of this white resistance, arguing that southern conservatives began mobilizing against civil rights some years earlier, in the era before World War II, when the New Deal politics of the mid-1930s threatened the monopoly on power that whites held in the South.As Ward shows, years before "segregationist" became a badge of honor for civil rights opponents, many white southerners resisted racial change at every turn--launching a preemptive campaign aimed at preserving a social order that they saw as under siege. By the time of theBrowndecision, segregationists had amassed an arsenal of tested tactics and arguments to deploy against the civil rights movement in the coming battles. Connecting the racial controversies of the New Deal era to the more familiar confrontations of the 1950s and 1960s, Ward uncovers a parallel history of segregationist opposition that mirrors the new focus on the long civil rights movement and raises troubling questions about the enduring influence of segregation's defenders.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0254-7
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION A QUESTION THAT WILL NOT STAY SETTLED
    (pp. 1-8)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward.4

    According to Birmingham columnist John Temple Graves, the civil rights movement arrived during World War II. And he was not happy about it. The son of a prominent Georgia newspaperman and a great-grandnephew of John C. Calhoun, Graves watched nervously as the black press launched a “Double V” campaign—victory over fascism abroad and racial discrimination at home—in the months following Pearl Harbor. Before the war, Graves considered himself a “southern liberal.” He championed education and economic development as a formula for easing racial tensions. He denounced bigoted demagoguery for poisoning the politics of his native region. But during...

  5. 1 AGITATING FALSELY THE RACE PROBLEM
    (pp. 9-37)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward.5

    On 24 October 1932, over 200,000 onlookers choked Atlanta’s streets. They hoped to catch a glimpse of their next president. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, just two weeks shy of a landslide victory over sitting president Herbert Hoover, waved at the surging crowd from the back seat of a convertible. The New York governor’s visit to Atlanta, according to a local newsman, had attracted “the greatest multitude ever assembled below the Mason and Dixon line.” National guardsman scheduled to march in the procession were pressed into service to bolster the unprecedented yet overwhelmed police detail. The huge crowds forced parade planners to...

  6. 2 THE WHITE SOUTH’S “DOUBLE V”
    (pp. 38-66)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward.6

    A few weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the NAACP proclaimed itself “On Guard Against Racial Discrimination.” Under a picture of black men in uniform, an NAACP pamphlet announced, “if racial discrimination under Hitler is wrong, racial discrimination in America is wrong.” The war effort, civil rights activists asserted, necessitated a domestic drive to stamp out segregation. “The dictator armies may be defeated by a Jim Crow Navy, a Jim Crow Army, a Jim Crow Air Corps,” argued the NAACP, “but the dictator idea will never be defeated by Jim Crowism.” Segregation was now enemy ideology, and the...

  7. 3 FROM WHITE SUPREMACISTS TO “SEGREGATIONISTS”
    (pp. 67-91)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward.7

    In late March 1944, Theodore Bilbo traveled home with a warning for his fellow Mississippians. With the “joy and happiness of the prodigal son returning to loved ones and the old homestead,” the senator stood before a joint session of the state legislature. After reflecting on his long and stormy tenure in state politics, the former governor assured the packed gallery and a radio audience of ultimate victory over the Axis. Triumphant forecasting gave way to foreboding, however, as the senator turned his attention to race. “I wish to discuss with you this grave race problem fully and frankly,” Bilbo...

  8. 4 NATIONALIZING RACE & SOUTHERNIZING FREEDOM
    (pp. 92-120)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward.8

    On a Saturday afternoon in August 1946, the Massey brothers staggered out of the Ritz Café in Athens, Alabama. Ben, a recently discharged veteran, and his younger brother Roy, an active-duty Army private, were already drunk. As they stumbled onto the street, the Massey boys collided with L. C. Horton, a black World War II veteran. An argument ensued. It ended when Horton knocked Ben Massey to the ground and ran away. When police arrived at the scene of the scuffle, they arrested the bloodied brothers for drunken and disorderly conduct. White bystanders, angered by the policemen’s apparent lack of...

  9. 5 THE RHETORIC OF RESPONSIBLE RESISTANCE
    (pp. 121-150)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward.9

    Just two years after the tumultuous political season of 1948, the defenders of segregation looked to South Carolina for a glimpse of Jim Crow’s future. “Of all the primary campaigns,” Atlanta newspaperman Ralph McGill reported in 1950, “no other was as strange to the South as that of James Francis Byrnes.” Gone were the demagogue theatrics, the “jug bands,” the “hillbilly grammar,” and a host of other “shabby old political props” that had plagued southern politicking for decades. Instead, McGill reported, South Carolina welcomed back a favorite son who promised a refined brand of racial politics. Byrnes, the former congressman,...

  10. 6 THE SOUTHERN “MINORITY” & THE SILENT MAJORITY
    (pp. 151-178)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward.10

    As massive resistance gained momentum in the late 1950s, segregationist organizations seemed to sprout up overnight. TheBrowndecision shook activists out of their complacency and, in a few cases, their careers. After the Supreme Court decision, Citizens’ Council founder Robert Patterson left his job managing a Mississippi Delta plantation to fight integration full-time. Describing his segregationist epiphany a few years later, the former World War II paratrooper and college football star claimed that theBrowndecision compelled him “to lay down my life to prevent mongrelization.” Patterson’s racial revelation and his success as an organizer captured the attention of...

  11. EPILOGUE: A SEGREGATIONIST “SENSE OF HISTORY”
    (pp. 179-184)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869222_ward.11

    Compared to the battle over the previous year’s Civil Rights Act, the congressional clash over the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was relatively tame. The real drama had already occurred in Selma, seat of an Alabama Black Belt county where less than 2 percent of the black majority had successfully registered to vote prior to the bill’s passage. In some neighboring counties, no African Americans had voted since Reconstruction. The nationally televised confrontation at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Alabama troopers turned back civil rights marchers with clubs and tear gas, pressured Lyndon Johnson to demand passage of a new...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 185-218)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 219-236)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 237-252)