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T H E A L A B A M A R E V I E W 230 the black past. Many whites, Dwyer and Alderman demonstrate, do not believe King has any relevance to them, and they fear that living on a street named after him will stigmatize their business or residence. Black activists have fought, often unsuccessfully, to have major thoroughfares that cut across black and white neighborhoods renamed for King, but they have found that it can be hard to get public approval to commemorate the black past outside black neighborhoods. Although the authors shy away from a strong argument about whether civil rights memorials offer a hopeful story of racial progress or highlight instead continuity and the continued segregation of American public memory, the book leans towards the more pessimistic reading. If, as Dwyer and Alderman suggest, “today’s efforts to remember the Movement can be thought of as yet another campaign to achieve racial equity” (p. 6), then the nation still has a long way to go. RENEE ROMANO Oberlin College Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938–1965. By Keith M. Finley. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008. 340 pp. $40.00. ISBN 978-0-8071-2245-3. Journalist William White entitled his book on the 1950s Senate Citadel (New York, 1956). Southern senators ruled White’s Citadel, and Keith Finley conceptualizes the Senate as the final stronghold from which southerners defended white supremacy against growing demands for change. Others have examined the enactment of civil rights legislation during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. Robert Mann in The Walls of Jericho (New York, 1997) traced the interactions of Johnson, Richard Russell, and Hubert Humphrey in the civil rights revolution. In Delaying the Dream, Finley examines some of the same events as Mann but from the perspective of senators who spent a generation trying to protect the southern way of life from efforts to extend constitutional protections to African Americans. Beginning with the senators’ defeat of antilynching legislation in the 1930s until passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, there were no more stalwart supporters of Jim Crow in Washington than these men. Senators’ letters to constituents outlining their beliefs and assessments of prospects for success in blocking proposed civil rights initiatives augment excerpts from the floor debate. From these sources the author identifies not only the rationales for maintaining the status quo but also changes in strategy as southerners shifted from defeating liberal initia- J U L Y 2 0 1 0 231 tives, to grudging acceptance of legislation after extracting most of its teeth, to the final, unavailing eighty-five-day filibuster against Johnson’s 1964 law. Beginning in 1946, Russell led the southern caucus as public opinion and the remainder of the Senate gradually mobilized against racial discrimination. Russell and North Carolina’s Sam Ervin raised constitutional questions that for years resonated with enough senators to thwart reformers. Those who offered constitutional arguments for rejecting civil rights initiatives struggled to keep their less sophisticated colleagues in line. Theodore Bilbo from Mississippi, Allen Ellender from Louisiana, and Strom Thurmond from South Carolina frequently turned to racial stereotyping that alienated the allies needed by the South. As became clear in the course of defeating efforts to make permanent the Fair Employment Practices Commission, “when race found expression on the Senate floor, southerners lost support” (p. 93). Alabama’s Lister Hill and John Sparkman, who had relatively moderate records on other issues , have minor roles in Finley’s presentation. Southern senators acted as delegates articulating the concerns of their region, which has earned them criticism from such historians as Anthony Badger (New Deal/New South, Fayetteville, Ark., 2007) for failing to lead their constituents toward acceptance of what most ultimately recognized as inevitable. Most of the senators, however, did less to inflame regional passions than the region’s most visible state and local politicians. Such governors as George Wallace and Arkansas’s Orval Faubus could urge noncompliance with federal law and get rewarded with additional terms. Southern senators who thought strategically could not demagogue on civil rights—as pleasing as that might have been for voters back home— because...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-9961
Print ISSN
0002-4341
Pages
pp. 230-232
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-11
Open Access
No
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