Before Brown details the ferment in civil rights that took place across the South before the momentous Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954. This collection refutes the notion that the movement began with the Supreme Court decision, and suggests, rather, that the movement originated in the 1930s and earlier, spurred by the Great Depression and, later, World War II—events that would radically shape the course of politics in the South and the nation into the next century.
This work explores the growth of the movement through its various manifestations—the activities of politicians, civil rights leaders, religious figures, labor unionists, and grass-roots activists—throughout the 1940s and 1950s. It discusses the critical leadership roles played by women and offers a new perspective on the relationship between the NAACP and the Communist Party.
Before Brown shows clearly that, as the drive toward racial equality advanced and national political attitudes shifted, the validity of white supremacy came increasingly into question. Institutionalized racism in the South had always offered white citizens material advantages by preserving their economic superiority and making them feel part of a privileged class. When these rewards were threatened by the civil rights movement, a white backlash occurred.
"A valuable and timely volume . . . particularly welcome for the emphasis it places on the churches, on white women, and on returning black and white veterans, groups whose postwar role has been too long ignored."
—Tony Badger, author of The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933-1940 and editor of, with Brian Ward, The Making of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement
Glenn Feldman is Associate Professor of Business in the Center for Labor Education and Research at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Politics, Society, and the Klan in Alabama, 1915-1949. Patricia Sullivan is Associate Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era.
The white power movement in America wants a revolution. It has declared all-out war against the federal government and its agents, and has carried out—with military precision—an escalating campaign of terror against the American public. Its soldiers are not lone wolves but are highly organized cadres motivated by a coherent and deeply troubling worldview of white supremacy, anticommunism, and apocalypse. In Bring the War Home, Kathleen Belew gives us the first full history of the movement that consolidated in the 1970s and 1980s around a potent sense of betrayal in the Vietnam War and made tragic headlines in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
Returning to an America ripped apart by a war that, in their view, they were not allowed to win, a small but driven group of veterans, active-duty personnel, and civilian supporters concluded that waging war on their own country was justified. They unified people from a variety of militant groups, including Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, radical tax protestors, and white separatists. The white power movement operated with discipline and clarity, undertaking assassinations, mercenary soldiering, armed robbery, counterfeiting, and weapons trafficking. Its command structure gave women a prominent place in brokering intergroup alliances and giving birth to future recruits.
Belew’s disturbing history reveals how war cannot be contained in time and space. In its wake, grievances intensify and violence becomes a logical course of action for some. Bring the War Home argues for awareness of the heightened potential for paramilitarism in a present defined by ongoing war.
In The Color of Sex Mason Stokes offers new ways of thinking about whiteness by exploring its surprisingly ambivalent partnership with heterosexuality. Stokes examines a wide range of white-supremacist American texts written and produced between 1852 and 1915—literary romances, dime novels, religious and scientific tracts, film—and exposes whiteness as a tangled network of racial and sexual desire. Stokes locates these white-supremacist texts amid the anti-racist efforts of African American writers and activists, deepening our understanding of both American and African American literary and cultural history. The Color of Sex reveals what happens when race and sexuality meet, when white desire encounters its own ambivalence. As Stokes argues, whiteness and heterosexuality exist in anxious relation to one another. Mutually invested in “the normal,” they support each other in their desperate insistence on the cultural logic of exclusion. At the same time, however, they threaten one another in their attempt to create and sustain a white future, since reproducing whiteness necessarily involves the risk of contamination Charting the curious movements of this “white heterosexuality,” The Color of Sex inaugurates a new moment in our ongoing attempt to understand the frenzied interplay of race and sexuality in America. As such, it will appeal to scholars interested in race theory, sexuality studies, and American history, culture, and literature.
Racist paganism is a thriving but understudied element of the American religious and cultural landscape. Gods of the Blood is the first in-depth survey of the people, ideologies, and practices that make up this fragmented yet increasingly radical and militant milieu. Over a five-year period during the 1990s Mattias Gardell observed and participated in pagan ceremonies and interviewed pagan activists across the United States. His unprecedented entree into this previously obscure realm is the basis for this firsthand account of the proliferating web of organizations and belief systems combining pre-Christian pagan mythologies with Aryan separatism. Gardell outlines the historical development of the different strands of racist paganism—including Wotanism, Odinism and Darkside Asatrú—and situates them on the spectrum of pagan belief ranging from Wicca and goddess worship to Satanism.
Gods of the Blood details the trends that have converged to fuel militant paganism in the United States: anti-government sentiments inflamed by such events as Ruby Ridge and Waco, the rise of the white power music industry (including whitenoise, dark ambient, and hatecore), the extraordinary reach of modern communications technologies, and feelings of economic and cultural marginalization in the face of globalization and increasing racial and ethnic diversity of the American population. Gardell elucidates how racist pagan beliefs are formed out of various combinations of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, warrior ideology, populism, beliefs in racial separatism, Klandom, skinhead culture, and tenets of national socialism. He shows how these convictions are further animated by an array of thought selectively derived from thinkers including Nietzche, historian Oswald Spengler, Carl Jung, and racist mystics. Scrupulously attentive to the complexities of racist paganism as it is lived and practiced, Gods of the Blood is a fascinating, disturbing, and important portrait of the virulent undercurrents of certain kinds of violence in America today.
Inside the Klavern is an annotated collection of the minutes of a thriving Ku Klux Klan in La Grande, Oregon, between 1922 and 1924. The most complete set of Klan minutes ever uncovered, these documents illustrate the inner workings of a Klan chapter of more than three hundred members at a time when the national membership reached into the millions and the Invisible Empire was at the peak of its power. Through an extensive introduction and conclusion as well as brief notes previewing each installment of the minutes, David A. Horowitz places these unique documents in historical perspective.
The La Grande minutes demonstrate Klan hostility to Roman Catholics, Jews, blacks, and "hyphenated" Americans. But they also explain how the chapter exercised requirements for admission, how officers were selected, and how Klansmen encountered difficulties enforcing the moral standards of their order. Because the Klan kligrapp (recording secretary) Harold R. Fosner recorded not only the official proceedings but also volunteered extemporaneous comments and gossip, readers get a genuine feeling for what it was like to attend the meetings. Through his own obvious excitement and commitment to the cause, Fosner re-creates the flavor, tone, and atmosphere of these meetings: "Tis beyond my power of expression to relate the harmony and fellowship which reigned supreme. . . . Suffice to say that these were the golden moments of our lives."
His evaluation of Klan propaganda, too, is telling: "The weekly newsletter from Atlanta, Georgia, contained a little book, the official message of our emperor, one Col. William Joseph Simmons, read before the most noble band of men ever assembled and for the noblest cause in the world. To my firm belief this book is the leading masterpiece of our day and age."
Horowitz concludes that "although it is tempting to judge Jazz Age Klansmen by the standards of later generations, the story provided by the minutes is a complex one— a chronicle of both compassion and complicity in cruelty, of positive social accomplishment and arbitrary and dysfunctional divisiveness."
Both the Christian right and right-wing white supremacist groups aspire to overcome a culture they perceive as hostile to the white middle class, families, and heterosexuality. The family is threatened, they claim, by a secular humanist conspiracy that seeks to erase all memory of the nation’s Christian heritage by brainwashing its children through sex education, multiculturalism, and pop culture. In Lift High the Cross Ann Burlein looks at two groups that represent, in one case, the “hard” right, and in the other, the “soft” right—Pete Peters’s “Scriptures for America” and James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family”—in order to investigate the specific methods these groups rely on to appeal to their followers. Arguing that today’s right engenders its popularity not by overt bigotry or hatred but by focusing on people’s hopes for their children, Burlein finds a politics of grief at the heart of such rhetoric. While demonstrating how religious symbols, rituals, texts, and practices shape people’s memories and their investment in society, she shows how Peters and Dobson each construct countermemories for their followers that reframe their histories and identities—as well as their worlds—by reversing mainstream perspectives in ways that counter existing power relations. By employing the techniques of niche marketing, the politics of scandal, and the transformation of political issues into “gut issues” and by remasculinizing the body politic, Burlein shows, such groups are able to move people into their realm of influence without requiring them to agree with all their philosophical, doctrinal, or political positions. Lift High the Cross will appeal to students and scholars of religion, American cultural studies, women’s studies, sociology, and gay and lesbian studies, as well as to non-specialists interested in American politics and, specifically, the right.
When former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries came out of retirement on the fourth of July, 1910 to fight current black heavywight champion Jack Johnson in Reno, Nevada, he boasted that he was doing it "for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a negro." Jeffries, though, was trounced. Whites everywhere rioted. The furor, Gail Bederman demonstrates, was part of two fundamental and volatile national obsessions: manhood and racial dominance.
In turn-of-the-century America, cultural ideals of manhood changed profoundly, as Victorian notions of self-restrained, moral manliness were challenged by ideals of an aggressive, overtly sexualized masculinity. Bederman traces this shift in values and shows how it brought together two seemingly contradictory ideals: the unfettered virility of racially "primitive" men and the refined superiority of "civilized" white men. Focusing on the lives and works of four very different Americans—Theodore Roosevelt, educator G. Stanley Hall, Ida B. Wells, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman—she illuminates the ideological, cultural, and social interests these ideals came to serve.
White supremacy and its troubling endurance in American life is debated in these personal essays by two veteran political activists. Arguing that white supremacy has been the dominant political system in the United States since its earliest days—and that it is still very much with us—the discussion points to unexamined bigotry in the criminal justice system, election processes, war policy, and education. The book draws upon the authors' own confrontations with authorities during the Vietnam era, reasserts their belief that racism and war are interwoven issues, and offers personal stories about their lives today as parents, teachers, and reformers.
In November 2001, the state of Alabama opened a referendum on its long-standing constitutional prohibition against interracial marriage. A bill on the state ballot offered the opportunity to relegate the state's antimiscegenation law to the dustbin of history. The measure passed, but the margin was alarmingly slim: more than half a million voters, 40 percent of those who went to the polls, voted to retain a racist and constitutionally untenable law.
Julie Novkov's Racial Union explains how and why, nearly forty years after the height of the civil rights movement, Alabama struggled to repeal its prohibition against interracial marriage---the last state in the Union to do so. Novkov's compelling history of Alabama's battle over miscegenation shows how the fight shaped the meanings of race and state over ninety years. Novkov's work tells us much about the sometimes parallel, sometimes convergent evolution of our concepts of race and state in the nation as a whole.
"A remarkably nuanced account of interlocked struggles over race, gender, class and state power. Novkov's site is Alabama, but her insights are for all America."
---Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
"Hannah Arendt shocked Americans in the 1950s by suggesting that interracial intimacy was the true measure of a society's racial order. Julie Novkov's careful, illuminating, powerful book confirms Arendt's judgment. By ruling on who may be sexually linked with whom, Alabama's courts and legislators created a racial order and even a broad political order; Novkov shows us just how it worked in all of its painful, humiliating power."
---Jennifer L. Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government, Professor of African and African American Studies, and Harvard College Professor
From rap to folk to punk, music has often sought to shape its listeners’ political views, uniting them as a global community and inspiring them to take action. Yet the rallying potential of music can also be harnessed for sinister ends. As this groundbreaking new book reveals, white-power music has served as a key recruiting tool for neo-Nazi and racist hate groups worldwide.
Reichsrock shines a light on the international white-power music industry, the fandoms it has spawned, and the virulently racist beliefs it perpetuates. Kirsten Dyck not only investigates how white-power bands and their fans have used the internet to spread their message globally, but also considers how distinctly local white-power scenes have emerged in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the United States, and many other sites. While exploring how white-power bands draw from a common well of nationalist, racist, and neo-Nazi ideologies, the book thus also illuminates how white-power musicians adapt their music to different locations, many of which have their own terms for defining whiteness and racial otherness.
Closely tracking the online presence of white-power musicians and their fans, Dyck analyzes the virtual forums and media they use to articulate their hateful rhetoric. This book also demonstrates how this fandom has sparked spectacular violence in the real world, from bombings to mass shootings. Reichsrock thus sounds an urgent message about a global menace.
This book describes who American skinheads are, how they have developed within larger youth group scenes, their ideas and activities, the role of music in their formation and development, how they have been perceived by the media in America, and what damage they have done in American society. Jack B. Moore focuses on the cultural history of this group in America during the 1980s and suggests that while they were originally a minor distraction on the punk scene, they have grown into a dangerous and far more politically engaged source of hate thought and crime.
In The Slumbering Volcano, Maggie Montesinos Sale investigates depictions of nineteenth-century slave ship revolts to explore the notion of rebellion in formulations of United States national identity. Analyzing how such revolts inspired citizens to debate whether political theory directed at free men could be extended toward blacks, Sale compares the reception of fictionalized versions of ship revolts published in the 1850s—Benito Cereno by Herman Melville and The Heroic Slave by Frederick Douglass—with the previous decade’s public accounts of actual rebellions by enslaved people on the ships Amistad and Creole. This comparison of narrative response with written public reaction to the actual revolts allows Sale to investigate the precise manner in which public opinion regarding definitions of liberty evolved over this crucial period of time between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Mapping the ways in which unequally empowered groups claimed and transformed statements associated with the discourse of national identity, Sale succeeds in recovering a historically informed sense of the discursive and activist options available to people of another era. In its demonstration of how the United States has been uniquely shaped by its dual status as both an imperial and a postcolonial power, this study on the discourse of natural rights and national identity in the pre-Civil War United States will interest students and scholars of American studies, African American studies, gender studies, and American history and literature.