Abstract

This article examines Americans’ memories of white opposition to the civil rights movement. As an early user of colorblind rhetoric to defend white supremacy, the segregationist John Stennis confounded Americans’ expectations of what white racism was supposed to look like. Popular American memory imagined a vast chasm between extremist white resistance of the past and a colorblind present. To accurately remember Stennis when he died in 1995 was thus to call into question the legitimacy of the contemporary colorblind consensus. Instead, he was widely portrayed as a personification of the nation that had supposedly vanquished white resistance and embraced racial equality. This article looks for meaning in these misrepresentations and asks what purpose such narratives served.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1994
Print ISSN
0935-560X
Pages
pp. 134-160
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-30
Open Access
No
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