Five Historians and Journalists on the Modern South

“The civil rights legislation also created a ‘crisis of victory.’ As King pointed out, the civil rights movement had dealt largely with surface issues— the right to drink a cup of coffee, to vote, to compete with whites for jobs. As important as such civil rights victories were, they did not address the basic questions of poverty and power, and they did not question national practices or institutions.”
— from The New South, 1945 – 1980: The Story of the South’s Modernization (LSU Press, 1995), by Numan V. Bartley


“Ultimately, the history of segregation and civil rights in Alabama’s public libraries is a study of social institutions in a state where America’s dilemma was particularly acute. Libraries were places of public interaction, and white southerners segregated them to maintain white supremacy. Both the oppressors and the oppressed held social priorities that defined the form and purpose of segregated libraries. As Alabama’s library history unfolded these priorities made public libraries instruments of social improvement and social control, objects of community action, targets of civil rights protest, and battlegrounds in the struggle to preserve white supremacy.”
— from A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama’s Public Libraries, 1900 – 1965 (University of Alabama Press, 2002) by Patterson Toby Graham


“Some legacies do endure. It would be silly to say that the South is no more— as foolish proclaiming an end to history. The South is its history. Yet the times were a’changing.”
— from In Love with Defeat: The Making of a Southern Liberal (NewSouth Books, 2013) by H. Brandt Ayers 


“The GOP’s introduction and exploitation of social issues has been another source of the increase in party competition. Some, although not necessarily all, believe that the most important issue has been race. According to this view, Republicans whether they like it or not, have drawn support from voters who harbor antiblack sentiments or who view the Democrats as too influenced by black political groups.”
—from Southern Politics in the 1990s (LSU Press, 1999) edited by Alexander P.  Lamis


“The visions of the Agrarian South and the biracial South are not directly related to the myth of the Lost Cause, which once had been the source for the southern civil religion. In the course of the twentieth century the memory of Confederate defeat has been eclipsed by new dreams, which represent potential southern contributions to the nation. Southerners who lived through the social upheaval of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s had to struggle to seize meaning from a complicated past. To a large degree, there has been an often-unrecognized reinterpretation of the spiritual meaning of southern history. Southerners who have reflected on the meaning of the South’s experience when placed in transcendent perspective increasingly hope the southern past can be a resource toward not only reconciliation but also national ecological health.”
—from Judgment & Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis (UGA Press, 1995) by Charles Reagan Wilson


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.