Making the Modern South

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

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Making the Modern South

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Race, Labor, and Civil Rights

Griggs versus Duke Power and the Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity

Robert Samuel Smith

In 1966, thirteen black employees of the Duke Power Company's Dan River Plant in Draper, North Carolina, filed a lawsuit against the company challenging its requirement of a high school diploma or a passing grade on an intelligence test for internal transfer or promotion. In the groundbreaking decision Griggs v. Duke Power (1971), the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding such employment practices violated Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they disparately affected minorities. In doing so, the court delivered a significant anti-employment discrimination verdict. Legal scholars rank Griggs v. Duke Power on par with Brown v. Board of Education (1954) in terms of its impact on eradicating race discrimination from American institutions. In Race, Labor, and Civil Rights, Robert Samuel Smith offers the first full-length historical examination of this important case and its connection to civil rights activism during the second half of the 1960s. Smith explores all aspects of Griggs, highlighting the sustained energy of the grassroots civil rights community and the critical importance of courtroom activism. Smith shows that after years of nonviolent, direct action protests, African Americans remained vigilant in the 1960s, heading back to the courts to reinvigorate the civil rights acts in an effort to remove the lingering institutional bias left from decades of overt racism. He asserts that alongside the more boisterous expressions of black radicalism of the late sixties, foot soldiers and local leaders of the civil rights community—many of whom were working-class black southerners—mustered ongoing legal efforts to mold Title 7 into meaningful law. Smith also highlights the persistent judicial activism of the NAACP-Legal Defense and Education Fund and the ascension of the second generation of civil rights attorneys. By exploring the virtually untold story of Griggs v. Duke Power, Smith's enlightening study connects the case and the campaign for equal employment opportunity to the broader civil rights movement and reveals the civil rights community's continued spirit of legal activism well into the 1970s.

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Rationing Justice

Poverty Lawyers and Poor People in the Deep South

Kris Shepard

Established in 1964, the federal Legal Services Program (later, Corporation) served a vast group of Americans desperately in need of legal counsel: the poor. In Rationing Justice, Kris Shepard looks at this pioneering program’s effect on the Deep South, as the poor made tangible gains in cases involving federal, state, and local social programs, low-income housing, consumer rights, domestic relations, and civil rights. While poverty lawyers, Shepard reveals, did not by themselves create a legal revolution in the South, they did force southern politicians, policy makers, businessmen, and law enforcement officials to recognize that they could not ignore the legal rights of low-income citizens. Having survived for four decades, America’s legal services program has adapted to ever-changing political realities, including slashed budgets and severe restrictions on poverty law practice adopted by the Republican-led Congress of the mid-1990s. With its account of the relationship between poverty lawyers and their clients, and their interaction with legal, political, and social structures, Rationing Justice speaks poignantly to the possibility of justice for all in America.

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Senator James Eastland

Mississippi's Jim Crow Democrat

Maarten Zwiers

In the years following World War II, the national Democratic Party aligned its agenda more and more with the goals of the civil rights movement. By contrast, a majority of southern Democrats remained as committed as ever to a traditional, segregationist ideology. Through the career of Senator James Eastland, one of the mid-century's most prominent politicians, author Maarten Zwiers explores the uneasy, yet mutually beneficial relationship between conservative southerners and the increasingly liberal party to which they belonged.

Mississippi Democrat James "Big Jim" Eastland began an influential four-decade career in the United States Senate in 1941, ultimately rising to become president pro tempore of the Senate, a position that placed him third in the line of presidential succession. His reputation for toughness developed from his unfailing and ruthless opposition to greater civil rights and his concern over the global spread of communism, as he believed participants in the two movements were working together to undermine the American way of life. Zwiers contends that despite Eastland's extreme positions, he still managed to maintain influence through productive relationships with his Senate colleagues-liberal as well as conservative. Though the progressive wing of the Democratic Party continued to push for stronger civil rights legislation, they valued compromise with southern senators like Eastland in order to ensure support from a region the Democrats could ill afford to lose. While Eastland's campaigning rhetoric was inflammatory, his ability to operate within the national political structure by leveraging moderate concessions contributed to his lengthy and effective career.

Drawing on recently opened archival records, Maarten Zwiers offers a nuanced portrait of a man frequently portrayed as a southern zealot. Senator James Eastland provides a case study of the complicated relationship between party and party members that allowed Democrats to maintain power in the South for much of the twentieth century.

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The Struggle for Black Freedom in Miami

Civil Rights and America's Tourist Paradise, 1896-1968

Chanelle Nyree Rose

Offering new insights into Florida's position within the cultural legacy of the South, The Struggle for Black Freedom in Miami explores the long fight for civil rights in one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. Chanelle N. Rose examines how the sustained tourism and rapid demographic changes that characterized Miami for much of the twentieth century undermined constructions of blackness and whiteness that remained more firmly entrenched in other parts of the South.

The convergence of cultural practices in Miami from the American South and North, the Caribbean, and Latin America created a border community that never fit comfortably within the paradigm of the Deep South experience. As white civic elites scrambled to secure the city's burgeoning reputation as the "Gateway to the Americas," an influx of Spanish-speaking migrants and tourists had a transformative effect on conventional notions of blackness. Business owners and city boosters resisted arbitrary racial distinctions and even permitted dark-skinned Latinos access to public accommodations that were otherwise off limits to nonwhites in the South. At the same time, civil-rights activists waged a fierce battle against the antiblack discrimination and violence that lay beneath the public image of Miami as a place relatively tolerant of racial diversity.

In its exploration of regional distinctions, transnational forces, and the effect of both on the civil rights battle, The Struggle for Black Freedom in Miami complicates the black/white binary and offers a new way of understanding the complexity of racial traditions and white supremacy in southern metropolises like Miami.

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Sustaining Southern Identity

Douglas Southall Freeman and Memory in the Modern South

Keith D. Dickson

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Douglas Southall Freeman, perhaps more than any other writer in the first half of the twentieth century, helped shape and sustain a collective identity for white southerners. A journalist, lecturer, radio broadcaster, and teacher of renown, Freeman wrote and spoke on themes related to southern memory throughout his life. Keith D. Dickson’s Sustaining Southern Identity offers a masterful intellectual biography of Freeman as well as a comprehensive analysis of how twentieth-century southerners came to remember the Civil War, fashion their values and ideals, and identify themselves as citizens of the South. Dickson’s work underscores Freeman’s contributions to the enduring memory of Confederate courage and sacrifice in southern culture. The longtime editor of the Richmond News Leader, Freeman wrote several authoritative and extraordinarily influential multivolume historical narratives about both Confederate general Robert E. Lee and the high command of the Army of Northern Virginia. His contributions to the enduring southern memory framework—with its grand narrative of Confederate courage and sacrifice, and its attachment to symbols and rituals—still serve as a touchstone for the memory-truths that define a distinct identity in the South.

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Thomas Dixon Jr. and the Birth of Modern America

edited by Michele K. Gillespie and Randal L. Hall

“A sweeping yet rigorous analysis of Dixon and his work. The collection approaches the southern intellectual through multiple methodologies—from literary theory and film studies to social history and religious studies. We get an exhaustive yet diverse perspective on Dixon’s influence and legacy.”—Journal of American History Thomas Dixon Jr. (1864–1946), best remembered today as the author of the racist novels that served as the basis for D. W. Griffith’s controversial 1915 classic film The Birth of a Nation, also enjoyed great renown in his lifetime as a minister, lecturer, lawyer, and actor. Although this native southerner’s blatantly racist, chauvinistic, and white supremacist views are abhorrent today, his contemporary audiences responded enthusiastically to Dixon. In Thomas Dixon Jr. and the Birth of Modern America, distinguished scholars of religion, film, literature, music, history, and gender studies offer a provocative examination of Dixon’s ideas, personal life, and career and in the process illuminate the evolution of white racism in the early twentieth century and its legacy down to the present. The contributors analyze Dixon’s sermons, books, plays, and films seeking to understand the appeal of his message within the white culture of the Progressive era. They also explore the critical responses of African Americans contemporary with Dixon. By delving into the context and complexity of Dixon’s life, the contributors also raise fascinating questions about the power of popular culture in forming Americans’ views in any age. "An important and valuable addition to the literature on turn-of-the-century white supremacy.”—Journal of Southern History

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Transforming the South

Federal Development in the Tennessee Valley, 1915-1960

Matthew L. Downs

Historians have long recognized the middle of the twentieth century as significant in the history of the modern South, owing to a convergence of social change, political realignment, and cultural expansion. This period in southern history has provided extensive material for scholars of race, gender, and politics. In addition, sweeping economic changes spread throughout the South, permanently shifting the area's material resources. Transforming the South examines this transition from farm to factory and explores the dramatic reshaping of the region's economy. Matthew L. Downs focuses on three developments in the Tennessee Valley: the World War I-era government nitrate plants and hydroelectric dams at Muscle Shoals, Alabama; the extensive work completed by the Tennessee Valley Authority; and Cold War/Space Age defense investment in Huntsville, Alabama. Downs argues that the modernization of the Sunbelt economy depended on cooperation between regional leaders and federal funders. Local boosters lobbied to receive federal funds for their communities while simultaneously forming economic development organizations that would prepare those communities for further growth. Economic reform also drove social reform: as members of historically disenfranchised groups attained employment in the new industrial workforce, they gained financial and political capital to push for social change. Transforming the South considers the role played by the recipients of government funds in the mid-twentieth century and demonstrates how communities exerted an unparalleled influence over the federal investments that shaped the southern economy.

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Troubled Commemoration

The American Civil War Centennial, 1961–1965

Robert J. Cook

In 1957, Congress voted to set up the United States Civil War Centennial Commission. A federally funded agency within the Department of the Interior, the commission's charge was to oversee preparations to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of the central event in the Republic's history. Politicians hoped that a formal program of activities to mark the centennial of the Civil War would both bolster American patriotism at the height of the cold war and increase tourism in the South. Almost overnight, however, the patriotic pageant that organizers envisioned was transformed into a struggle over the historical memory of the Civil War and the injustices of racism. In Troubled Commemoration, Robert J. Cook recounts the planning, organization, and ultimate failure of this controversial event and reveals how the broad-based public history extravaganza was derailed by its appearance during the decisive phase of the civil rights movement. Cook shows how the centennial provoked widespread alarm among many African Americans, white liberals, and cold warriors because the national commission failed to prevent southern whites from commemorating the Civil War in a racially exclusive fashion. The public outcry followed embarrassing attempts to mark secession, the attack on Fort Sumter, and the South's victory at First Manassas, and prompted backlash against the celebration, causing the emotional scars left by the war to resurface. Cook convincingly demonstrates that both segregationists and their opponents used the controversy that surrounded the commemoration to their own advantage. Southern whites initially embraced the centennial as a weapon in their fight to save racial segregation, while African Americans and liberal whites tried to transform the event into a celebration of black emancipation. Forced to quickly reorganize the commission, the Kennedy administration replaced the conservative leadership team with historians, including Allan Nevins and a young James I. Robertson, Jr., who labored to rescue the centennial by promoting a more soberly considered view of the nation's past. Though the commemoration survived, Cook illustrates that white southerners quickly lost interest in the event as it began to coincide with the years of Confederate defeat, and the original vision of celebrating America's triumph over division and strife was lost. The first comprehensive analysis of the U.S. Civil War Centennial, Troubled Commemoration masterfully depicts the episode as an essential window into the political, social, and cultural conflicts of America in the 1960s and confirms that it has much to tell us about the development of the modern South.

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White Masculinity in the Recent South

edited by Trent Watts

From antebellum readers avidly consuming stories featuring white southern men as benevolent patriarchs, hell-raising frontiersmen, and callous plantation owners to post–Civil War southern writers seeking to advance a model of southern manhood and male authority as honorable, dignified, and admirable, the idea of a distinctly southern masculinity has reflected the broad regional differences between North and South. In the latter half of the twentieth century and beyond, the media have helped to shape modern models of white manhood, not only for southerners but for the rest of the nation and the world. In White Masculinity in the Recent South, thirteen scholars of history, literature, film, and environmental studies examine modern white masculinity, including such stereotypes as the good old boy, the redneck, and the southern gentleman. With topics ranging from southern Protestant churches to the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd, this cutting-edge volume seeks to do what no other single work has done: to explore the ways in which white southern manhood has been experienced and represented since World War II. Using a variety of approaches—cultural and social history, close readings of literature and music, interviews, and personal stories—the contributors explore some of the ways in which white men have acted in response to their own and their culture's conceptions of white manhood. Topics include neo-Confederates, the novels of William Faulkner, gay southern men, football coaching, deer hunting, church camps, college fraternities, and white men's responses to the civil rights movement. Taken together, these engaging pieces show how white southern men are shaped by regional as well as broader American ideas of what they ought to do and be. White men themselves, the contributors explain, view the idea of southern manhood in two seemingly contradictory ways—as something natural and as something learned through rites of initiation and passage—and believe it must be lived and displayed to one's peers and others in order to be fully realized. While economic and social conditions of the South changed dramatically in the twentieth century, white manhood as it is expressed in the contemporary South is still a complex, contingent, historicized matter, and broadly shared—or at least broadly recognized—notions of white southern manhood continue to be central to southern culture. Representing some of the best recent scholarship in southern gender studies, this bold collection invites further explorations into twenty-first-century white southern masculinity.

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