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Defending White Democracy

The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965

Jason Morgan Ward

Publication Year: 2011

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. In Defending 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 the Brown decision, 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.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-8


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pp. viii-9

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pp. ix-13

Peter Jocys taught U.S. history from the last chapter backwards so that his students at South Granville High School would finally make it past the Civil War. I have been stuck in the twentieth century ever since. Down the road from Creedmoor, I spent as much time as possible in the embarrassment of riches that is the Duke History Department. John Herd Thompson, Raymond....

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Introduction: A Question That Will Not Stay Settled

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pp. 1-8

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...

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1 Agitating Falsely the Race Problem

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pp. 9-37

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...

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2 The White South’s “Double V”

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pp. 38-66

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...

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3 From White Supremacists to “Segregationists”

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pp. 67-91

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...

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4 Nationalizing Race and Southernizing Freedom

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pp. 92-120

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...

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5 The Rhetoric of Responsible Resistance

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pp. 121-150

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...

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6 The Southern “Minority” and the Silent Majority

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pp. 151-178

As massive resistance gained momentum in the late 1950s, segregationist organizations seemed to sprout up overnight. The Brown decision 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...

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Epilogue: A Segregationist “Sense of History”

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pp. 179-184

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...


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pp. 185-218


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pp. 219-236


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pp. 237-252

E-ISBN-13: 9781469602547
E-ISBN-10: 1469602547
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835135
Print-ISBN-10: 0807835137

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011