Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

The idea for this project began at Vanderbilt University in two courses with sociologist Larry Griffin. Memory studies were all the rage at the time, and for the first time I read autobiographies by southerners such as Lillian Smith, Anne Moody, and Carl Rowan. Although Larry and I have not always seen eye to eye on this project, he exposed me to sources and helped me frame questions that led me to a discovery: both black and white southerners remembered that silence—the unwillingness of parents to discuss segregation with their children—helped maintain the system. These autobiographies and others like them, along with John Cell’s...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-15

In 1915 Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin—inspired by the “new social Christianity” during her years at Brenau College in Georgia—attended a Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) conference in North Carolina, where the white women in attendance faced a provocative proposal: a “Miss Arthur,” an African American woman on the YWCA staff, wished to speak to them about “Christianity and the race problem.”1 Lumpkin remembered the conflicting emotions that surfaced among the young women as they contemplated participating in this “unheard of transgression.” Guilt at breaking the “unwritten and written law...

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CHAPTER 1 “The Southern Never-Never Land”: Racial Instruction in White Homes

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pp. 16-39

Writing in the late 1950s, after being the target of years of harassment for her stance on civil rights, white Kentuckian Anne Braden did not blame the segregationists in her community or consider them “evil men.” Instead, she considered them “trapped.” Like many white southerners, they had learned myths about segregation “as they learned their ABC’s; they had absorbed it with the air they breathed.”1 Lillian Smith described the process by which white children learned about segregation in similar terms: “We learned far more from acts than words, more from a raised eyebrow, a joke, a shocked voice, a withdrawing...

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CHAPTER 2 The African American Dilemma: Racial Instruction in Black Homes

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pp. 40-61

Septima Clark wrote of the choices African American parents faced in deciding how to prepare their children for life in the segregated South, “The Negro parent’s dilemma is fearsome. There is nothing worse, believe me, and I know this, than bringing a child into the world and having to teach him that none of the pleasant things of life are for him, or few of them, at most. How do you teach a tot where to sit, where to walk, where not to play, and where not to go.”1 Martin Luther King Jr. famously articulated the challenge faced by black parents in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in which he described the moment as a...

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CHAPTER 3 Supplementary Reading: Racial Instruction in Southern Schools

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pp. 62-84

Regardless of how southern parents chose to educate their children about segregation and race, they sacrificed significant control over what their children learned about these crucial issues once they sent them to school. The school, like the home, served as a key socializing agent in the lives of southern young people. Children learned lessons at school that either reinforced or undermined what they were already learning at home. Anne Braden worried about what her children would learn at their all-white school. She first became critical of segregation through a series of incidents during her college and early professional...

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CHAPTER 4 “Red and Yellow, Black and White”: Racial Instruction in Southern Churches

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pp. 85-118

Many children growing up in the segregated South would have sung “Jesus Loves the Little Children” at church. The sentiment captured in this simple song had potentially revolutionary consequences for black and white children. The lyrics read:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight;...

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CHAPTER 5 To Make the Tolerable Intolerable: Black and White Racial Awakenings

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pp. 119-142

Writing in response to Richard Wright’s 1940 novel, Native Son, Mississippi author David L. Cohn concluded, “Mr. Wright obviously does not have the long view of history” because he demanded both political rights and social equality for African Americans and was not willing to wait for them, as Cohn and other like-minded racial moderates had been advising black southerners to do for some time. Cohn stressed, “Justice or no justice, the whites of America simply will not grant to Negroes at this time those things that Mr. Wright demands.”1 The proponent of an elite-led gradualism that he believed would result in the eventual amelioration...

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Conclusion

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pp. 143-158

In order to accomplish their goal of ending legalized segregation and disfranchisement, civil rights activists had to target and overcome the childhood conditioning of both black and white southerners. In their homes white southerners had learned that segregation was not to be discussed and questions about the system were rarely answered. In school they learned about American democracy but not how that democracy conflicted with the tenets of segregation. In their churches white southerners learned to save their dimes and say their prayers for their black “brothers” in Africa but were rarely called upon...

Notes

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pp. 159-204

Bibliography

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pp. 205-216

Index

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pp. 217-223