Download Unlikely Dissenters: White Southern Women in the Fight for by Anne Stefani PDF

By Anne Stefani

“Stefani redefines the proverbial ‘southern girl’ with a detailed examine over fifty white, anti-racist ladies. focusing on characteristics that associated those ladies throughout generations, Unlikely Dissenters offers the 1st accomplished research of ways those southern ladies either hired and destroyed a stereotype.”—Gail S. Murray, editor of Throwing Off the Cloak of Privilege
“Presents a worldly and well-supported argument that ladies corresponding to Lillian Smith, Virginia Durr, and Anne Braden challenged white supremacy at its center whereas figuring out that they might be considered as traitors to their race, zone, and gender in doing so.”—Peter B. Levy, writer of Civil warfare on Race Street
among 1920 and 1970, a small yet major variety of white girls faced the segregationist approach within the American South, finally contributing to its dying. for lots of of those reformers, the fight for African American civil rights used to be comparable to their very own complicated means of own emancipation from gender norms. As a part of the white neighborhood, they wrestled with guilt as contributors of the “oppressor” workforce. but as girls in a patriarchal society, they have been additionally “victims.” This paradoxical double id enabled them to increase a unique model of activism that combatted white supremacy whereas emancipating them from white patriarchy.

utilizing the 1954 Brown decision as a pivot, Anne Stefani examines and compares generations of white girls who spoke out opposed to Jim Crow whereas final deeply connected to their local South. She demonstrates how their targeted grassroots community-oriented activism functioned within—and even used to its advantage—southern criteria of respectability.

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Extra info for Unlikely Dissenters: White Southern Women in the Fight for Racial Justice, 1920-1970

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In my home,” she writes, “our nurse lived in the back yard beyond Mother’s flower garden in a small cabin whose interior walls were papered with newspapers. ” She remembers more particularly the time when another child was born in the family, drawing her parents’ attention away from her. Feeling rejected, Lillian stopped eating for a time until Aunt Chloe, the black nurse, took her to her cabin. After several failed attempts at feeding her, the nurse finally took some food, chewed it first in her mouth, and then gave it to the child, who ate it instantly.

17 Thus the natural end-result of segregation proved to be total misunderstanding of blacks by whites and a systematic mistrust of whites on the part of blacks. This was what Boyle found out when she struggled to understand how her attitude toward the black student she had so warmly welcomed to the University of Virginia could have been offensive. Nobody among her “liberal” friends could account for Gregory Swanson’s and local blacks’ initial anger at her condescending overtures. She concluded that “southern white liberals do not necessarily know any more about the Negro whose side they are on than do the segregationists who oppose him.

24 The girls who participated in the celebrations did not interpret them in this way at the time, but, reflecting on them later, they confirmed the impact that the white supremacist ideology had had on the construction of their identity as white women. Virginia Durr, who was raised in Birmingham, Alabama, recalled the Confederate celebrations held in the 1910s. As she puts it in her autobiography, “all the nice girls from the age of about twelve to twenty” were dressed up as pages to parade with the old veterans.

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