Digging deeper into history of the South and civil rights movement

May 2, 2007

Hurry over the New York Times site before the article goes into the “gotta-pay-to-see” bin, and read the story by Patricia Cohen about other stories beyond the classic race confrontations, from the South, during the Civil Rights Movement:  “Interpreting Some Overlooked Stories from the South.”

A new generation of historians is exploring some of the untold stories of the civil rights movement and its legacies: the experiences not of heroes or murderous villains, but of ordinary Southern whites. And their research is challenging some long-held beliefs about the nation’s political realignment and the origins of modern conservatism.

“You want to pry below these great narratives of good and evil and black and white,” said Jason Sokol, 29, who wrote “There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975” (Alfred A. Knopf). “For those of us who didn’t live through it, there’s more of an effort to not simply celebrate the civil rights movement and how extraordinary it was, but to place it within the broader arc of the 20th century.”

Much history of the era remains to be written, especially local histories that students in high schools could get from local newspaper archives, from interviews, and other local sources.

This new wave of historians, many of them young, believe that one cannot understand today’s housing, schooling, economic development or political patterns without understanding the mostly apolitical white Southerners of that era. None of these scholars play down the inbred racism of the region, but they argue that the focus on race can obscure broader economic and demographic changes, like the dizzying corporate growth, the migration of white Northerners to the South and the shifting emphasis on class interests after legal segregation ended.

Brain delay: Fiesta de Tejas! stuck in the presses

May 2, 2007

Point of personal privilege:  I have delayed posting the second Fiesta de Tejas! until at least later today.  Work pileups and a few unexpected occurrences — “check engine” light on the car we just bought? — contributed to the delay.

Oh, and the handbell clinic and festival on Saturday, and a few hours with Mrs. Bathtub and the two little Bathtubs (one home from college, but you get the idea) to celebrate the superannuated anniversary of my own natal day — they contributed.

Stay tuned, please — same Tejas channel, same Tejas station . . .

Quote of the moment: James Madison

May 2, 2007

James Madison Building, Library of Congress -- the official Madison Memorial

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance.

— James Madison in a letter to W. T. Barry, August 4, 1822

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