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Remaking Dixie

Remaking Dixie: The Impact of World War II on the American South

Edited by Neil R. McMillen
with an Introduction by Morton Sosna
James C. Cobb
Dewey W. Grantham
Anne Goodwyn Jones
Judy Barrett Litoff
Neil R. McMillen
Clarence L. Mohr
Noel Polk
Harvard Sitkoff
Arvarh E. Strickland
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 207
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  • Book Info
    Remaking Dixie
    Book Description:

    Although the Civil War reconfigured Dixie, in the half century since the end of World War II the American South has been massively changed again. It is still an improbable mix of tradition and transition, but the stereotype of a region with one party politics, one crop agriculture, white supremacy, cultural insularity, grinding poverty , somnolent cotton towns, and languorous rural landscapes has largely passed into history. Possum Trot and Tobacco Road have been suburbanized and how have Walmarts. As the regions's boosters insist, the "nations's number0one economic problem" has joined the great, booming sunbelt. For good or for ill, a new sense has been visited upon nearly every southern place.

    What elements caused such striking change to the face of Dixie?

    In this volume, nine widely known specialists in the history and literature of the American South search for the origins of this sweeping regional transformation in the period of the Second World War. These original essays address a cluster of related problems of enduring fascination for all those who wish to understand the ever-changing, ever-abiding South.

    Offering new answers to important questions, they address the Second World War as a major watershed in southern history. Did it drive old Dixie down? Did it set in motion forces that ultimately shaped a Newer South? Did it further Americanize the South by eroding traditional patterns of though and deed that once were fiercely defended by white southerners as "our way of life"? Was the postwar South less different, less peculiar and distinctive?

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-676-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-2)
    Morton Sosna

    This is a collection of essays about the other war that greatly affected the American South. As the Civil War gave the South a regional identity unique within the United States, producing a distinctive politics, economy, culture, and literature and creating at once an “Old South” and a “New South,” World War II provided another important if less well recognized watershed in the region’s history. The contributors to this volume look at the South’s economy, its politics, its racial and gender relations, its literary and cultural traditions, even its system of higher education, and assess the degree to which the...

  5. I World War II and the Mind of the Modern South
    (pp. 3-20)
    James C. Cobb

    As he brought his classicMind of the Southto a close, Wilbur J. Cash surveyed “the forces sweeping over the world in the fateful year of 1940” and warned that “in the coming days, and probably soon,” the South was “likely to have to prove its capacity for adjustment far beyond what has been true in the past.” As its “loyal son,” Cash could only hope that in the coming confrontation the South’s virtues would “tower over and conquer its faults.” Yet, there was next to nothing in his decidedly pessimistic treatise to suggest that the South’s “capacity for...

  6. II The South and Congressional Politics
    (pp. 21-32)
    Dewey W. Grantham

    In national politics, V. O. Key observed in 1949, the Democratic party in the southern states had long been “the instrument for the conduct of the ‘foreign relations’ of the South with the rest of the nation.”¹ In the pursuit of their diplomatic objectives, southerners concentrated on Congress, an assembly in which they possessed singular advantages and exerted great influence. This was never more clearly demonstrated than during the Second World War. Despite the vast shift of power and discretion to the chief executive, the legislative branch remained a vitally important institution in a democracy engaged in all-out war. Writing...

  7. III World War II and the Transformation of Southern Higher Education
    (pp. 33-55)
    Clarence L. Mohr

    A generation ago, when Americans marked the centennial of the Civil War, the black freedom struggle provided the moral and intellectual context for scholarly participation in events commemorating the conflict between North and South. Just as the Civil War centennial spoke to the concerns of a rising generation faced with the unfinished agenda of emancipation, the 50th anniversary of World War II speaks—or should have spoken—to a different aspect of that same generation’s historical experience, one symbolized in part by the influx of veterans to American college campuses during the late 1940s and the subsequent arrival of their...

  8. IV Southern Women in a World at War
    (pp. 56-69)
    Judy Barrett Litoff

    The well-known Mississippian, Lucy Somerville Howorth, a senior attorney in the Office of Legislative Counsel at the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C., and a member of the New Deal women’s “network,” delivered these remarks during her keynote address to the June 14, 1944 White House Conference on How Women May Share in Post-War Policy Making.²

    The architect of the conference, Tennessee native Charl Ormond Williams, had served as chair of the ratification committee when Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to approve the Nineteenth Amendment—the woman suffrage amendment—to the Constitution. A devoted public servant who had held leadership positions...

  9. V African American Militancy in the World War II South: Another Perspective
    (pp. 70-92)
    Harvard Sitkoff

    It is now commonplace to emphasize the Second World War as a watershed in the African American freedom struggle, as a time of mass black militancy, and as the direct precursor to the civil rights protest movement of the late 1950s and 1960s. Even most textbooks today dramatize the wartime bitterness of African American protests against racial discrimination in the defense industry and the military, and highlight the phenomenal growth of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the beginnings of the Congress of Racial Equality, which practiced direct-action civil disobedience to desegregate places of public accommodation....

  10. VI Fighting for What We Didn’t Have: How Mississippi’s Black Veterans Remember World War II
    (pp. 93-110)
    Neil R. McMillen

    In November 1993 I began interviewing some of the 85,000 black Mississippians who served in uniform during World War II.¹ Conducted on the fiftieth anniversary of allied victory over the Axis Powers, these conversations did not neglect what might narrowly be defined as “military history,” but they focused more fully on the social meaning of the war. The emphasis throughout was on matters of race: the more painful aspects of black service in a Jim Crow military, the connections between soldiering and citizenship, the relationship between wartime patriotic sacrifice and postwar racial struggle, the ultimate American wartime irony: the conscription...

  11. VII Every Woman Loves a Fascist: Writing World War II on the Southern Home Front
    (pp. 111-130)
    Anne Goodwyn Jones

    “Every woman adores a Fascist,” wrote Sylvia Plath, “The boot in the face, the brute / Brute heart of a brute like you.” This famous line from her poem, “Daddy,” connects the apparently distant and public events of World War II to private feelings about a nominally private event: the relationship of a daughter with her father. Plath wrote the poem on October 12, 1962, before the term became a popular epithet (as in “fascist pig” or “male fascist pig”) for those of us who came of age in the 1960s. For her readers, then, the emotional impact of the...

  12. VIII Faulkner and World War II
    (pp. 131-145)
    Noel Polk

    On July 4, 1943, William Faulkner wrote to his stepson, Malcolm Franklin:

    Dear Buddy:

    Mr Robert Haas is vice president of Random House. They publish my books. During the times when I would be broke, year after year sometimes, I had only to write him and he would send me money—no hope to get it back, unless I wrote another book. He’s a Jew.

    He had an only son, and a daughter. In ’40, the son withdrew from Yale and became a Navy pilot. In ’41, the girl about 20, joined that Women’s Ferry Squadron, is now flying, ferrying...

  13. IX Remembering Hattiesburg: Growing Up Black in Wartime Mississippi
    (pp. 146-158)
    Arvarh E. Strickland

    The heroic figure of the years of the Civil Rights Revolt in Mississippi who has been most inspiring to me is Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. Mrs. Hamer’s lament that she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired” is often quoted, but another of her statements has meant more to me. She once said: “There are some things I feel strong about.. . . One is not to forget where I come from and the other is to praise the bridges that carried me over.” “. . . [N]ot to forget where I come from and ... to praise...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 159-190)
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 191-192)
  16. Index
    (pp. 193-207)