Civil War on Race Street
by Peter B. Levy
The Great Uprising
by Peter B. Levy
Gender in the Civil Rights Movement
by Peter J. Ling, Sharon Monteith
New Orleans after the Civil War
by Justin A. Nystrom
We often think of Reconstruction as an unfinished revolution. Justin A. Nystrom’s original study of the aftermath of emancipation in New Orleans takes a different perspective, arguing that the politics of the era were less of a binary struggle over political supremacy and morality than they were about a quest for stability in a world rendered uncertain and unfamiliar by the collapse of slavery.
Commercially vibrant and racially unique before the Civil War, New Orleans after secession and following Appomattox provides an especially interesting case study in political and social adjustment. Taking a generational view and using longitudinal studies of some of the major political players of the era, New Orleans after the Civil War asks fundamentally new questions about life in the post–Civil War South: Who would emerge as leaders in the prostrate but economically ambitious city? How would whites who differed over secession come together over postwar policy? Where would the mixed-race middle class and newly freed slaves fit in the new order? Nystrom follows not only the period’s broad contours and occasional bloody conflicts but also the coalition building and the often surprising liaisons that formed to address these and related issues. His unusual approach breaks free from the worn stereotypes of Reconstruction to explore the uncertainty, self-doubt, and moral complexity that haunted Southerners after the war.
This probing look at a generation of New Orleanians and how they redefined a society shattered by the Civil War engages historical actors on their own terms and makes real the human dimension of life during this difficult period in American history.
Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South
by Tracy E. K’Meyer
Situated on the banks of the Ohio River, Louisville, Kentucky, represents a cultural and geographical intersection of North and South. Throughout its history, Louisville has simultaneously displayed northern and southern characteristics in its race relations. In their struggles against racial injustice in the mid-twentieth century, activists in Louisville crossed racial, economic, and political dividing lines to form a wide array of alliances not seen in other cities of its size. In Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 1945–1980, noted historian Tracy E. K’Meyer provides the first comprehensive look at the distinctive elements of Louisville’s civil rights movement. K’Meyer frames her groundbreaking analysis by defining a border as a space where historical patterns and social concerns overlap. From this vantage point, she argues that broad coalitions of Louisvillians waged long-term, interconnected battles during the city’s civil rights movement. K’Meyer shows that Louisville’s border city dynamics influenced both its racial tensions and its citizens’ approaches to change. Unlike African Americans in southern cities, Louisville’s black citizens did not face entrenched restrictions against voting and other forms of civic engagement. Louisville schools were integrated relatively peacefully in 1956, long before their counterparts in the Deep South. However, the city bore the marks of Jim Crow segregation in public accommodations until the 1960s. Louisville joined other southern cities that were feeling the heat of racial tensions, primarily during open housing and busing conflicts (more commonly seen in the North) in the late 1960s and 1970s. In response to Louisville’s unique blend of racial problems, activists employed northern models of voter mobilization and lobbying, as well as methods of civil disobedience usually seen in the South. They crossed traditional barriers between the movements for racial and economic justice to unite in common action. Borrowing tactics from their neighbors to the north and south, Louisville citizens merged their concerns and consolidated their efforts to increase justice and fairness in their border city. By examining this unique convergence of activist methods, Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South provides a better understanding of the circumstances that unified the movement across regional boundaries.
Many Minds, One Heart
by Wesley C. Hogan
As Hogan chronicles, the members of SNCC created some of the civil rights movement’s boldest experiments in freedom, including the sit-ins of 1960, the rejuvenated Freedom Rides of 1961, and grassroots democracy projects in Georgia and Mississippi. She highlights several key players–including Charles Sherrod, Bob Moses, and Fannie Lou Hamer–as innovators of grassroots activism and democratic practice.
Breaking new ground, Hogan shows how SNCC laid the foundation for the emergence of the New Left and created new definitions of political leadership during the civil rights and Vietnam eras. She traces the ways other social movements–such as Black Power, women’s liberation, and the antiwar movement–adapted practices developed within SNCC to apply to their particular causes. Many Minds, One Heart ultimately reframes the movement and asks us to look anew at where America stands on justice and equality today.
Law and Order
by Michael W. Flamm
Law and Order offers a valuable new study of the political and social history of the 1960s. It presents a sophisticated account of how the issues of street crime and civil unrest enhanced the popularity of conservatives, eroded the credibility of liberals, and transformed the landscape of American politics. Ultimately, the legacy of law and order was a political world in which the grand ambitions of the Great Society gave way to grim expectations.
In the mid-1960s, amid a pervasive sense that American society was coming apart at the seams, a new issue known as law and order emerged at the forefront of national politics. First introduced by Barry Goldwater in his ill-fated run for president in 1964, it eventually punished Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats and propelled Richard Nixon and the Republicans to the White House in 1968. In this thought-provoking study, Michael Flamm examines how conservatives successfully blamed liberals for the rapid rise in street crime and then skillfully used law and order to link the understandable fears of white voters to growing unease about changing moral values, the civil rights movement, urban disorder, and antiwar protests.
Flamm documents how conservatives constructed a persuasive message that argued that the civil rights movement had contributed to racial unrest and the Great Society had rewarded rather than punished the perpetrators of violence. The president should, conservatives also contended, promote respect for law and order and contempt for those who violated it, regardless of cause. Liberals, Flamm argues, were by contrast unable to craft a compelling message for anxious voters. Instead, liberals either ignored the crime crisis, claimed that law and order was a racist ruse, or maintained that social programs would solve the “root causes” of civil disorder, which by 1968 seemed increasingly unlikely and contributed to a loss of faith in the ability of the government to do what it was above all sworn to do-protect personal security and private property.
The Southern past
by William Fitzhugh Brundage
Since the Civil War whites and blacks have struggled over the meanings and uses of the Southern past. Indeed, today’s controversies over flying the Confederate flag, renaming schools and streets, and commemorating the Civil War and the civil rights movement are only the latest examples of this ongoing divisive contest over issues of regional identity and heritage. The Southern Past argues that these battles are ultimately about who has the power to determine what we remember of the past, and whether that remembrance will honor all Southerners or only select groups.
For more than a century after the Civil War, elite white Southerners systematically refined a version of the past that sanctioned their racial privilege and power. In the process, they filled public spaces with museums and monuments that made their version of the past sacrosanct. Yet, even as segregation and racial discrimination worsened, blacks contested the white version of Southern history and demanded inclusion. Streets became sites for elaborate commemorations of emancipation and schools became centers for the study of black history. This counter-memory surged forth, and became a potent inspiration for the civil rights movement and the black struggle to share a common Southern past rather than a divided one.
W. Fitzhugh Brundage’s searing exploration of how those who have the political power to represent the past simultaneously shape the present and determine the future is a valuable lesson as we confront our national past to meet the challenge of current realities.