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1 TO GIVE RACISM THE FACE OF THE IGNORANT: RACE, CLASS, AND WHITE MANHOOD IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, 1937 1970 By HEATHER BRYSON A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011
2 2011 Heather Bryson
3 To Sam and Eloise
4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS It is difficult to adequately acknowledge the many people to whom I have become indebted since I began working on Birmingham, Alabama. First and foremost, I would like thank my advisor, Dr. William Link, for guiding me through my research and writing. With out his encouragement and persistence, I would not have completed this project. He has been a model advisor to me and my most constant friend in Gainesville. I would also like to thank my other committee members. Dr. Louise Newman, who first introduced me to the study of gender, taught me to find and appreciate the contributions in each piece of scholarship before searching for its shortcomings. Her sincere openness toward different approaches and ideas has encouraged me to remain curious about the work an d methodology of different scholars. I have learned more because of this. Dr. Jeffrey Adler, a careful and conscientious scholar, who has given freely of his time and expertise to help me create a more polished work of history. His interest in culture and violence has fostered in me an abiding curiosity about the unwritten but understood codes of classed cultures in America. Dr. Ben Wise, a recent addition to my committee, encouraged me in a critical juncture in my writing process and his positive comments and suggestions have propelled me forward. Finally, Dr. Sevan Terzian, who agreed to join my committee in a glitch, has provided me with reading suggestions, which have helped me to better understand the time period under study. By their scholarly insight s and professionalism, Dr. Link, Dr. Newman, Dr. Adler, Dr. Wise, and Dr. Terzian have taught me more than I could ever repay or acknowledge. My graduate cohort at the University of Florida is serious, interested, honest, and kind. It was the perfect cul ture in which to write a dissertation. Because of the Milbauer
5 Seminar organized by Dr. William Link, my project benefitted from the thoughtful comments and suggestions of my fellow graduate students for three consecutive years. I have also received travel grants from the History Department at the University of have enabled me to travel to Alabama numerous times over the course of this project. In Birmingham many people donated their time to my project in order to help me better understand their city and its people. Archivists Jim Baggett and Laura Anderson of the Birmingham Public Library Archives and the Civil Rights Institute were always ready with answer s and ideas. Dr. Robert Corley, Reverend Lawton Higgs, Reverend Kevin Higgs, Doug Carpenter, Liz Reed, and Sheila and Ira Chaffin each forfeited time from their busy schedules to answer my questions and offer their experiences and knowledge to my project. I am grateful for their generosity. In the case of the Reverends Higgs who run the Church of the Reconciler, a ministry that caters to shared understanding of the way that mission and devotion to those in need. The love and patience of my family members have supported and sustained me through the writing of my dissertation. I am the first family member to attempt to earn a docto rate and the longevity of the process has been something for which we were all ill prepared. Still, they remained confident that I could accomplish what I set out to do and their confidence has, in turn, made it so. It was my mother Georgia Kim Richarde B ryson, who first spoke seriously to me about history and her wisdom has warned me away from being overly critical of times and people gone by, although I still have far to
6 go. My mother raised my sister, my brother, and I on stories of her old Florida fam ily members who were wild and vengeful, as well as literary and proud. In her accounts, somehow, and I get the same sense about my mother. My father Dennis James Bryson, has been a constant role model to me and my memories of how hard he worked as I grew up have kept me grounded. On late nights with my books and in early mornings with my laptop, I remain cognizant of the fact that most everyone else in the world is working hard, too. This is because of my father. My sister, Bridget, and my brother, Henry, have also supported me in the writing of my dissertation by their love, humor, and their unflagging optimism about all things Heather. They are my very best friends. I wou ld also like to acknowledge my grandparents: Henry Osceola Richarde, Mary Elizabeth Walker Richarde, Mary Caroline Sessi Bryson, and James John Bryson for their goodness, love, and faith in education. Finally, I would like to thank my son and my daughter. Although they know little about the civil rights movement and less about Birmingham, Alabama, this project has directed their lives in important ways. Sam and Eloise have given me perspective, love, and tremendous joy. No words can adequately express my gr atitude to all who have helped me and supported me throughout this project. In every possible way, my cup runneth over.
7 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................ ................................ ............................... 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 10 2 ........................ 24 ................................ ..................... 28 ................................ ................................ ................. 33 ................................ ........... 38 ................................ ................................ ................... 43 Fighting Labor in the 1940s ................................ ................................ .................... 47 Christianity and the Company ................................ ................................ ................. 52 ......... 57 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 65 3 ................................ .......................... 68 Birmingham after Brown ................................ ................................ ......................... 71 Imperiled Patriarchy ................................ ................................ ................................ 81 B ................... 87 Physical Space and Physical Bodies ................................ ................................ ...... 91 over White, Cultural D egeneracy ................................ ................................ ......... 96 Bombingham ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 100 Cultural Cleanliness: Highlands Un ited Methodist Men ................................ ........ 103 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 105 4 ................................ ................................ ... 107 ......... 112 ................................ ................................ ..................... 117 Class Moderation ........ 120 ................................ ..... 127 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 138
8 5 ................................ ............................ 139 ................................ ................................ ........................ 143 s a Dollar and Cents T ................. 152 ................................ 157 The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing and the Blame .............................. 161 Pagan Savages, Young Beatniks, and White Mothers ................................ ......... 170 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 173 6 ................................ ................................ ...... 175 Operation New Birmingham ................................ ................................ .................. 177 ................................ ................................ .............. 182 Blue Collar Exodus ................................ ................................ ............................... 189 ............................... 190 en there is Birmingham . a Region of the M ................................ .... 204 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 206 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 213 BIOGRAPH ICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 234
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy TO GIVE RACISM THE FACE OF THE IGNORANT: RACE, CLASS, AND WHITE MANHOOD IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA 1937 1970 By Heather Bryson August 2011 Chair: Dr. William Link Major: History To Give Racism the Face of the Ignorant: Race, Class, and White Manhood in Birmingham, 1937 1970 examines how white men in Birmingham, Alabama responded to the black freedom struggle across the middle of the twentieth century. By tracking how men in the laboring middle and upper class organized across class and race in different moments, this study demonstrates that economic insecurity did not determine devotion to white supremacy. Instead, I argue that male supremacy was embedded within southern segr egation and that the imperiled position of the white male in society became the overriding ideology of white resistance. Using the time frame of the long civil rights movement, this study charts how the gendered underpinnings of racial supremacy masculin e privilege, traditional gender roles and the insistence of the superiority of white, Protestant morality continued into the 1960s among working middle and upper class whites in Birmingham.
10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION leader Asa Earl Carter to his Birmingham radio listeners in warm, Born and raised in the small town of Oxford, near Talladega, Carter absorbed th e resentments of poor whites in Alabama in his youth and successfully tapped into these feelings as a vocal white supremacist in Birmingham. Over the radio, he urged his loyalty to segregation to the ranks of his listeners of their ancestral kin, Carter called for the return of an older version of southern manhood, men ce they 1 W hile propagating a racially intolerant model of southern manhood, Carter rejected the discursive fusion of white resistance and ignorance. He was not alone. In 1958, southern writer and philosopher James McBride Dabbs sat fo r an hat poor, ignorant whites drove white backlash: "The theory that the lower strata of society 1 1, Folder 2, Birmingham Public Library Archives Department, hereafter BPLAD.
11 can control society and tell the upper class what to do is nonsense." 2 In 1995, southern historian Charles Payne addressed a similar problem in the historiography of the era : by bellied, and the tobacco chewing, an image with which no on to understand the totality and complexity of southern racism. 3 Reflecting on the meanin g of race in the region, Dabbs explained, the 4 In retrospe ct, both Carter and Dabbs addressed matters which concerned race as well as those of gender. The appeal of massive resistance in the 1950s and early 1960s can be located squarely in the nexus between racial and gendered anxieties of the era. 5 In Birmingha m, Alabama, a city made famous by its violent resistance, a confluence of factors took shape in the middle of the twentieth century that threatened the workforce and as thei r young took part in an overtly sexualized and rebellious youth culture. In the same era, working class men encountered dwindling job opportunities as machines replaced them in mines and mills and white collared men faced a slowing 2 James McBride Dabbs, interview by Mike Wallace. CBS, 31 August 1958, transcript located in Ransom Center online collections, University of Texas at Austin, archives, http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/collections/film/holdings/wallace/ (December 2010). 3 Charles Payne, I've Got The Light Of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom St ruggle (Berkeley: Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, (Urbana Champaign: University of Illinois P ress, 1995). 4 Dabbs, interview, CBS. 5 K. A. Cuordileone, "Politics in an Age of Anxiety: Cold War Political Culture and the Crisis of American Masculinity, 1949 1960," Journal of American History 87 (September 2000):515 545.
12 economy and a tenuous f uture in a city with shrinking prospects. 6 In the midst of job insecurity and patriarchal challenges from working women and wild children, and, with it, resounding claims of black manhood. 7 In the 1950s, for the first time since Reconstruction, white male control could no longer b e taken for granted in the steel city As in much of the South, racial enlightenment and racial animus a re understood to be the effects of clas s in Birmingham across Ewell and Atticus Finch are the most poignant examples which have come to symbolize the cultural marriage bet ween racial sentiment and class, although southern hist ory is brimming with poor, ignorant racists and well to do, well intentioned moderates. T he image s of both were images of men. And while violence had a correlative in class in Birmingham between 1937 and 1970, devotio n to white supremacy did not. We have mistaken practice with purpose. This dissertation examines racial feeling among white men in Birmingham during the black freedom struggle with an eye toward socioeconomic differences. 8 Specifically, 6 The struggling economy of Birmingham was especially frustrating for residents of Birmingham because many other Sunbelt cities were expanding in this era. This is a consistent concern of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, so much so that by 1960, a metropolitan audit was conducted to search for a way to make Birmingham a more productive city. The Birmingham Metropolitan Audit: Preliminary Report, 1960 (Louisville: Southern Institute of Management, 1960). 7 For a discussion of how claims of manhood have influenced identity politics, Should Historians Do with Masculinity? Reflections on nineteenth History Workshop Journal Vol. 38 (1994); Michael S. Kimmel, Manhood in America: A Cultural History 2 nd ed., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006) ; Matthew Basso, Laura McCall, and Dee Garceau, eds. Across the Great Divide: Cultures of Manhood in the American West, (New York: Routledge, 2001); Steve Estes, I Am a Man! Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement, ( Chapel Hill: University of North C arolina Press, Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4, (Dec., 1998), pp. 605 630; Thembisa Waetjen, Workers and Warriors: Masculinity and the Struggl e for Nation in South Africa, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004). 8 Necessarily, this project addresses difference across the white male community but ignores others. The subjects are white men from every major socio economic group in Birmingham. Many were born and
13 this study explores the relationship between class and devotion to white supremacy in the image of the blue collar racist has oversha dowed racial bigotry among middle and upper class whites. 9 class whites wavered in their fidelity to segregation between 1937 and 1970. 10 Although there were many men, such as Asa Carter and Bull Connor, who t class man as encapsulated within an economic stratum of society. Additionally, this study details the history of white collared men working for segreg to the late 1960s; a process obscured in history by the southern iconography of racists with white hoods and blue collars. The most influ ential body of scholarship concerning the responses of the southern middle raised in Birmingham while others migrated from the hills of Appalachia or emigrated from Europe. Almost of the subjects, however, are Protestant even though Birmingham did have vibrant Jewish and Catholic communities during the period under study. 9 Time Magazine, 27 September 1963, 27 29. 10 For a survey of recent monographs published on southern white reactions to the black freedom struggle, see Michelle Brattain, The Politics of Whiteness: Race, Workers, and Culture in the Modern South (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). Glenn Eskew, But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle (Chapel Hill: University of North Carol ina, 1997); Andrew Moore, "Practicing What We Preach: Roman Catholics and the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta," Georgia Historical Quarterly Brown Changed Race Relations: The Journal of American Hist ory 81 (1994): 81 118; Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan (New York: Oxford University Press,1994); Dan Carter, The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism and the Transformation of American Politics (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995) ; Kari Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932 1968 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Journal of American History 91 (2004):119 144; Glenn Feldman and Patricia Sullivan, Before Brown: Civil Rights and White Backlash in the Modern South (Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2004).
14 southern cities to southern suburbs 11 Kevin Kruse, Mathew Lassiter, and Joseph Crespino, the important contributors to this recent trend in southern oversimplification of southern racism. For wealthier whites, suburbanization preserved Jim Crow in the decades following racial integration and the scholar ship on southern suburbanization and the rise of the Right have identified important connections between wealth and the persistence of racial segregation. Even as a race neutral but race based language of rights, according to Kruse and Lassiter, emanated from the suburbs, historians are yet to explain why the middle class had a reason to hate. 12 This gap in the historiography of the South neglects and effectually erases the complicity of wealthier whites in massive resistance. We are left with stock images of white collared men wringing their hands, wrinkled and worn from their fight for southern progress juxtaposed with those of their lessers blue collared and short for titu de" to preserve the southlan d and stem the rising tide of integration. 13 While the 11 Kevin Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005); Mathew Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006; See also Jason Sokol, The re Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945 197 5 (New York: Alfred A Knopf Inc, 2006); Joseph Crespino, In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009). While Kruse, Lassiter, Crespino, and others are the first to look at the politics of southern suburbanization, these southern historians are localizing a trend begun by Kenneth Crabgrass Frontier, Tho The Origins of the Urban Crisis, Suburban Warriors Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: R ace and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998); (Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). 12 Lisa McGirr discusses a similar trend in Orange Co unty, California in her monograph, Suburban Warriors. 13 For a study on Hollywood representations of the oversimplification of the South, see Allison Graham, Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).
1 5 recent scholarship has deepened our understanding of th e southern and national drift of middle class whites to the Right, working class whites and all of the assumptions abou t them have remained intact. My examination of whites in Birmingham, while documenting the politics and influence of men living in suburbia, largely re mains in the city to document how poorer whites reacted to and thought about integration from the 1930s t o the 1960s. This study suggests that our ideas about middle class moderates and working class bigots are not only oversimplified, but largely inaccurate. A second theme of this study concerns the methods by which white supremacists in Birmingham made ide as and ideals about southern masculinity functional for their cause. Historians Tim Tyson, Steve Estes, and Danielle McGuire have demonstrated that manhood was central to the civil rights movement: e ach has examined the ways in which the freedom struggle w as redemptive for black masculinity. 14 This study moves from the understanding that southern racial manhood was dialog ically constructed that manhood. 15 When black men moved reacted to affirm their own sense of self. In response to the civil rights movement, southern leaders infused the political lexicon with a vocabulary of personal, masculine identity. The power of the white male as the political and social arbiter of southern society was deeply embedded within the culture of segregation. While anxieties 14 Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Str eet: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010); Estes I Am a Man! Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of N orth Carolina Press, 2005); Timothy B. Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1999). 15 James McBride Dabbs, Who Speaks for the South? (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1964), xi.
16 claim most forcefully atop both the gender and racial hierarchy, white supremacy was not simply a by product of male insecurity. In Birmingham, segregationists created a compelling world view that bound together disparate cultural values including racial purity, traditional gender norms, and Prote stant probity under one singular vision. 16 Southern, white men, rich and poor, became the defenders of this vision. The fight for segregation did not promise different things to men collared in white and those in blue it promised the same thing to all me n, control control which surpassed notions of white over b lack to include men over women and fathers over children. Although women assumed active roles, white resistance was entirely c omprised of male prerogatives By charting the arc of massive resistanc e among white study makes clear that constructions of southern, white manhood enabled wealthy whites to direct and sust ain racial antagonism and then d istance themselves from it as they lived, learned, and w orshipped in total segregation. In their work on the cultural underpinnings of white supremacy, historians Samuel Hill, Dewey Grantham, Amy Wood, Leonard Moore, Jane Dailey, and Anders Walker have each carefully detaile d how southerners used religion and morality to sanctify recent monograph on lynching explores how southern evangelical Protestantism and public executions dovetailed to affirm the collective identity of the witnesses as 16 Leonard Moore also discusses this type of traditional populist ideology in his work on the Klan in Indiana in the 1920s to testify to power of the anti modern sentiment which was rooted in smaller communities across America. Leonard Moore, Citizen Klan: Th e Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921 1928 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).
17 righteous Christians. 17 Similarly, Leonard Moore examines the power of religion in white supremacy in his study of the Klan in the 1920s. Moore argues that the seeds of the modern Right traditional gen der roles, evangelical Protestantism, xenophobia, and white supremacy took root during the second wave of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. 18 Moving forward to the civil rights era, Jane Dailey and Anders Walker demonstrate that southern whites employed Chri stianity and appeals to white morality to rationalize resistance to integration. Dailey examines the role of religion in the backlash against Brown v. Board of Education while Walker charts the ways in which moderate southerners used issues of morality to defend the status quo by means of aspiration, rather than repression. 19 The relationship between religion and segregation does not reappear in the historiography of white resistance in the South beyond the backlash of the 1950s, however. 20 I argue that con servative Christianity with its emphasis on prescriptive gender roles and moral cleanliness male supremacy into the 1960s in Birmingham. The black freedom struggle forced white men to surrender certain aspects of white supremacy, but not all. I contend that the gendered aspects of white supremacy persisted in Birmingham, most notably the perpetual insistence on the Christian and 17 Amy Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890 1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009). 18 Fashioned New Social History and the Twentieth Century American Reviews in American History 24, No. 4 (Dec., 1996): 555 573. 19 Walker Anders, The Ghost of Jim Crow: how Southern Moderates Used Brown v. Board of Educa tion to Stall Civil Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). 20 Samuel Hill, Religion and the Solid South Journal of American History 91 (2004):119 144 ; Amy Wood, Lynching and Spectacle ; Dewy Grantham, The Life and Death of the Solid South: A Political History. (Louisville: University Press of Kentucky, 1992).
18 moral supremacy of the fairly complected. This project charts how the Movement changed white men in Birmingham, as well as the ways in which white supremacy continued under the guise of what one local reverend called white collared 21 By bringing an analysis of southern, white masculinity into the study of racial supremacy, the role of Christianity, the coveted position of white women, and the angst with which southern men responded to peaceful protests comes into focus more clearly. Most significantly, a deeper understanding of the means by which all white men benefitted fro m the cultural constellation of white supremacy weakens the assertion that resistance sprung most passionately from the economically marginalized. Birmingham, Alabama is at the center of this dissertation for two reasons the infamy of its white resistan ce and the neatly ordered class structure in the city police dogs and fire cannons in the spring of 1963 and the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Ba ptist Church in the fall of 1963 have become cultural shorthand for the hatred of southern, blue collar whites. Throughout the civil rights era, figure of a southern, working cla ss bigot The stratified class structure in the city is the second reason for a case study on Birmingham The mineral wealth of Jones Valley imprinted both the physical an d social landscape across the city Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, working men toiled in mines and mills, becoming a sol id southern proletariat. Above the working class, small businessmen, lawyers, and others a group of men who lived with their families on the eas tern rise of Red Mountain. 21 Reverend Lawton Higgs, interview with Heather Bryson, 11 March 2010.
19 Finally, presiding atop the social hierarchy s and land company owners as the Big Mules of the town, these men and their families above the industrial haze in lush, unincorporated suburbs Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Homewood. 22 Taken together, the ferocity of white tidy cl ass structure, Birmingham provides a strong cas e study to untangle the relationships between working middle and upper class men and their perso nal and pecuniary investments in the racial caste system. Although this project is rooted in the iron veins of Jones Valley and the bedroom suburbs over Re d Mountain, the implications of dissolving a singular marriage between white supremacy and class reach beyond Birmingham The steel city is remarkable for its brutal backlash as well as its orderly class structure, but the elision of southern white manhood and racial supremacy that took place in Birmingham in the middle of the twentieth century is unremarkable. Across the South, white men sequestered black men as well as all women and children in the name of racial purity. The fears that animated white re sistance in Birmingham in the post World War II era working women, rebellious children, a changing economy, and a determined black freedom struggle were shared by southern men in general. This is evidenced not only by the exaggerated masculine rhetoric within the 1948 Dixiecrat Party and Massive Resistance in the 1950s, but also by the themes of ancestral sacrifice, anti northern sentiment, female frailty, and Christian (white) brotherhood which animated the fight for segregation 22 Carl V. Harris, Polit ical Power in Birmingham, 1871 1921 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, economic elite (top 1 percent), the middle class of merchants, real estate interests and contractors (the middle 19 percent) and the manual laborers, famers, artisan, and shop keepers (the lowest 80 percent ).
20 throughout the region. However, the powerlessness, poverty, and insecurity wrought by demonstrate supremacy in relationships of both race and gender. This study is organized both thematically and ch ronologically. Part I of this study considers how and why ideas and ideals of manhood propelled white resistance across class from the Great Depression to the late 1950s The first chapter deta ils the racial politics in the city and over the mountain from 1937 1950. In the 194 0s and early 1950s, biracial unions brought men and women of both races togeth er to fight against the in responded to unionization with violence, restricted suffrage and a public campaign to sanctify segregation through Christian manhood. 23 To secure their political power and the investments of their employers, k the voting population, elected anti labor, anti black politicians to local and state government, and became the driving force behind the Dixiecrat Party by 1948. An exploration into the almost two decades before Brown reveals that rich, whit e men fought to maintain These earlier years are important to the story because class unity often overcame the politics of race in Birmingham in the 1930s and 1940s. The cultural signifiers of white supremacy in Alabama conservative Christianity, adherence to traditional gender roles, and racial solidarity remained powerful but far from hegem onic in this period. Interracial labor laborers kept race from becoming the only meaningful division in Birmingham. 23 Robert P. Ingalls, "Antiradical Violence in Birmingham during the 1930s," Journal of Southern History 47, N o. 4 (November 1981): 521 Journal of Southern History 57, No. 2 (May 1991): 201 234; Glenn Feldman. The Disfranchisement Myth: Poor W hites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama (Athens: University of Georgia, 2004).
21 The second chapter documents the massive mobilizat ion of whites across the socioeconomic spectrum in Birmingham following the Brown decision Tapping into were able to circumscribe the lives of blacks, white women, and those of their maintain a hierarchy of both race and gender. Whereas southern history has carefully e xamined the construction of white women as both pure and dependent, the co nstruction of the white male in racialized discourses has not been historicized to the same extent. Throughout the second chapter, I argue that the construction of southern manhood became the defining feature of white resistance. Part II of this study tr aces how the Movement changed ideas of white manhood in Birmingham between 1961 and 1963, a period of deep crisis across the white community. In 1961, white businessmen began to preen their image for an increasingly interested national audience. By 1963, u pper class men, aided by a public relations campaign, succeeded in constructed themselves and their image anew. Chapter 3 details an important turning point in white resistance between 1961 and 1963 when closed parks and the brutal assault on the Freedom R iders forced many in Birmingham to question the wisdom of total segregation. Chapter 4 documents 1963, the year of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church to illustrate how whit e moderate men reacted publicly and privately to the growing assertion of black manhood in Birmingham. The final chapter charts how wealthier white men used issues of morality and Christianity to secure segregation in their neighborhoods, churches, and in the lives of their women
22 and children. Th moral cleansing campaigns wh ich specifically targeted whites and should be, I argue, understood in the context of racial integration. Because of the Movement, as well as the resistance to it, Birmingham has a rich and detailed history during the middle of the twentieth century. The two most important But for Birmingham and Diane McWhor Carry Me Home explore the black freedom struggle in the city, as well as the roles played by local leader Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, Movement leader Martin Luther King, the Kennedy and Johnson White Houses, and those played by Bull Connor, George review of Carry Me Home told tale of the valiant black struggle for human rights displaces the largely unknown story of white supremacy . more work is required 24 Charles Payne echoes which, he says, po 25 Kruse, Lassiter, Crespino Dailey, Walker, and many others have addressed the prodding of both Payne and Painter in an attempt to understand the reasons and implications of southern racism. In join ing the growing body of scholarship on the complexity of white supremacy, this study demonstrates the centrality of southern white manhood to the struggle for racial privilege. It is the goal of this project to begin the 24 Nell Irvin Painter, Review of Diane McWhorter, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 32 (Summer 2001): 132 134. 25 Payne, 418.
23 exploration into the intricate ways in which the culture of white male supremacy continued quietly into the second half of the twentieth century, hiding behind the southern symbol of an ignorant racist in a blue collar.
24 CHAPTER 2 IN HEAVEN TCI, Republic Steel, Sloss in the opening line to an account of his abduction in the steel town. 1 As Owen walked around a mining neighborhood on a warm evening in May 1935, a police car rolled by the white labor organizer and identified him in the purple light of a blown furnace. Moments after the police car left, another car pulled up next to Owen and stopped. Two white men jumped out and forced Owen into the backseat of the waiting car. A driver pulled the car away as the two men began to beat him in the backseat. The men wanted Owen to divulge the location of the Southern Worker a communist paper based out of Birmingham. When he refused to talk, his abductors drove him to the edge of town and whipped him with a double rope until he lost consciousness. 2 traveled quickly through the company neighborhoods of Birmingham. As he recovered in his bed, a miner, who was a former member of the Klan, came to visit Owen with his eight year old son. When the miner and his boy came into the bedroom, the man asked Owen to sit up so that all of the cuts and slashes that to Owen, the father spoke seriously to his son. He told his child to look at the wounds on 3 1 New Republic LXXXIV (August 28, 1935): 65 67. 2 3
25 unique in the 1930s. By the end the end of the decade, almost 50,000 of Bi workers were union men, two thirds of whom were African Americans. Between 1934 and 1935, there were three highly publicized cases of abductions and beatings for white organizers and countless beatings for blacks. 4 The American Civil Liberties U nion judged the city to be one of the eleven centers of repression in the nation. 5 ir city, had the fourth highest homicide rate in America in the 1930s, over 50 murders per 100,000 people. 6 Local resident Reverend Joseph 7 The high incidence of murder, one man ot of people In Birmingham need 8 bankers, lawyers, and teachers in the 1930s. When W ashington Post reporter Carroll Kilpatrick first came to Birmingham, she believed these middle and upper class whites 4 Robert P. I Journal of Southern History 47, No. 4 (November 1981): 521 544. 5 American Civil Liberties Union, Let Freedom Ring: The Story of Civil Liberty, 1936 37 (New York, 1937): 12. This information w 6 New York Times, 3 March 1935; 7 Reverend Joseph Lewis Rogers, interview by Horace Huntley, 2 March 1995, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (hereafter BCRI). 8 Washington Post, 27 March 1939.
26 however, the symphony, the beautiful library, and troubling to Kilpatrick as the reporter learned of the prevalence of illiteracy, syphilis, wealthy) existence alongside the frightful example of southern feudalism. 9 Birmingham was poor, violent, and deeply divided by class in the midst of the Great Depression. Neglect and hatred characterized the feelings between wealthy men in the city and t heir poorer counterparts. However, less than two decades later, white men from mines, mills, churches, the courthouse, and the country club would join together in a fraternity of southern, white manhood to fight against racial integration. The seeds of thi s unlikely brotherhood in Birmingham took root in 1937. This chapte r documents how rich men incited and maintained racial animosity for pecuniary gain ac The disparity between the haves and the have nots in Birmingham was manifest in both the social and geographic landscape. N estled above the city, wealthy men breathed clean air, fraternized at the country club, and exploited the disorganized laboring class in the industrial valley for their northern investors. When the Great Depression closed ngham area unionists constituted an apocalyptic 10 Between 1937 and 9 10 Wayne Flynt, Alabama in the Twentieth Century (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004).
27 class solidarity and toward white s upremacy, a daunting task in a city of poor coal and iron workers. 11 Although southern whites accepted ideas of biological and cultural superiority, racial hierarchy was not enough to keep poor men from working collectively. White supremacy in the South, h owever, was not just about race. It was also, on an elemental level, about southe rn white manhood, and it was the gendered aspect of white supremacy which proved both persuasive and resilient in the steel town. A specific ethos of southern manhood rooted in Christianity and a conservative moral code resonated with the growing number of residents from the Alabama countryside in Birmingham which helped to bolster ideas of supremacy as well as weaken biracial cooperation. By examining the social and political quarter of the twentieth century, this chapter documents how a small group of rich, white men constructed a new discourse which bifurcate d southern, Christian manhood and worker solidarity. workers, from their neighborhoods to their jobs to the rise of industrial union s. The second portion examines the pow er of the wealthiest in the city, the rise of Theophilus and the growing gulf between the upper and working classes of men in the later thirties, forties, and fifties. Political power reflected economic power across Jefferson County in this era. Rich whites supported a cumulative poll tax, the Boswell Amendment, and anti union violence in order to squeeze poorer men out of the voting 11 Robert Woodrun, Everybody Was Black Down There: Race and Industrial Change in the Alabama Coalfields (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007).
28 booths. 12 Culminating with the r ise of the Dixiecrats and the resurgence of the Klan in Alabama this chapter d traditional, Christian southern manhoo d to garner allegiance from farmers and their families who arrived in Jones Valley in the 1940s Melting Pot of Raw Men and Raw Materials Beginning in 1872, men and women from across the country and the world began to move to Birmingham. By the 192 0s mines reflected waves of migration. Native whites occupied the highest positions; Scots who arrived in Birmingham aro und the turn of the century were just below natives but above Sicilians who migrated in large numbers between 1900 and 1920. Greeks, Bulgarians, and Lebanese arrived in successive migrations and the newer arrivals occupied a lower rung at the workplace a nd in society. 13 The rules of seniority, however, did not apply to African Americans. While native whites and blacks lived in and mined Birmingham from its founding, whites moved through the industrial ranks while blacks remained at the bottom of the mines. 14 Pittsburgh based U.S. Steel was the largest employer in Jefferson County, 12 fir st fifty years in which he finds a similar pattern wherein the elite hold most of the power but the middle class informed decisions regarding taxes and public services. Carl V. Harris, Political Power in Birmingham, 1871 1921. 13 Birmingfind: A Collection o f Neighborhood Histories : Elyton Neighborhood (Birmingham: Birmingfind, 1981); The Other Side Community (Birmingham: Birmingfind, 1981); The Italians: From Bisacquino to Birmingham (Birmingham: Birmingfind, 1981); The Best People in the World Live in Wylam (Birmingham: Birmingfind, 1981); The (Birmingham: Birmingfind, 1981); Lebanese: The Earth Turned to Gold (Birmingham: Bir mingfind, 1981) 14 Journal of American History 73, No. 3 (December 1986): 669 694.
29 and Railroad Company (TCI) which U.S. Steel acquired in 1907. In Birmingham and neighboring t owns of Ensley, Bessemer Pratt City, and Fairfield, TCI mana ged four major operations: mining coal, ore, and limestone; manufacturing pig ir on in blast furnaces; transforming iron into steel in open hearth furnaces; and cast ing or rolling steel into vari he Sheffield Iron and Steel Company, U.S. Pipe, American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO), and smaller operations organized Birmingham into distinct mining and mill communities. 15 16 Although TCI employed thousands of workers in Birmingham, city residents resented the power that the estranged U.S. Steel exercised over local affairs. As 17 d according to curse that we inherited was this 18 More than the company, however, 15 Birmingfind: A Collection of Neighborhood Histories: The Other Side The Story Of Birmingham's Black Community ; The Italians; From Bisacquino to Birmingham ; The Best People in the World Live in Wylam ; The New Patrida: The Story of Birmingham's Greeks ; Neighborhood ; Birmingham's Lebanese: The Earth Turned to Gol d 16 Christopher Scribner, Renewing Birmingham: Federal Funding and the Promise of Change, 1929 1979 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002), 66. 17 Charles Morgan, Jr., interview by Betty Hanson, February 1995, BCRI. 18 James Head, interview by Betty Hanson, 30 June 1995, BCRI.
30 le 19 Living conditions varied within each of the mining and mill districts. In the first half of the twentieth century, companies brought men into work and settled their families i nto company towns. In Sloss Quarters, which employed mainly Italians and African Americans, the Italians lived in the front of the company neighborhood and the African Americans in the back. However, the wholesale separation which characterized Sloss was not the rule. In the company villages of the Ensley Mill, the Docena Mine, the Mulga Mine, and the Fairfield mills, a row of houses for blacks often stood back to back with a row of houses for whites. 20 Steelworkers, white and black alike, lived and worked on an eerie landscape, captive to the heat and orange glow of the nearby blast furnaces. One Alabama country boy described the unnatural ambiance of the mill district when he 21 Residential racial patterns varied in Birmingham according to the original patterns established by different companies. For the first half of the twentieth century, the largest single concentration of blacks in one neighborhood was the Southside Shotgun houses stood side by side between 10 th and 34 th streets south. Domestics, foundry workers, and a few teachers occupied the houses. The neighborhood residents bought their food at the company commissaries or corner groceries often run by Italian s and Lebanese and worshipped in small Baptist churches. 22 Black and Italian children all 19 Morgan, interview, BCRI. 20 The Other Side The Story Of Birmingham's Black Community 21 Jim Baggett, Historic Photos of Birmingham 22 The Other Side The Story Of Birmingham's Black Community
31 at an older age, she noticed that she had to order a ten cent Krystal burger fro m a window when there were seats inside. 23 Outside of the company villages and the distinct neighborhoods within large, predominantly white neighborhoods: Tuxedo Junction in Ensley, Collegeville in North Birmingham, Zion City in Woodlawn, and Kingston in East Birmingham. 24 Mrs. Jessie Shepherd recalled only black homes in and the soot so 25 Neighborhoods organized around companies functioned as small islands. Even as company communities rubbed up against one another, men identified very strongly and took pride in their job and their company. As ACIPCO founder John Joseph Eagan 26 More than anything else, sports teams fostered a sense of community among families living under the shadow of their mill; each had a baseball, soft ball, bowling, basketball, and volleyball team. Baseball was the most celebrated company sport across Birmingham, but within the working communities, it was boxing. Boxing matches took place on the weekends and even over lunch breaks at the mills. The figh ters would represent their job and fans rooted and 23 Eloise Staples, interview with Horace Huntley, 5 March 1995, BCRI. 24 The Other Side The Story of Birmingham's Black Community 25 Jessie Shepherd, interview with Horace Huntley, 16 March 1995, BCRI. 26
32 placed bets for men who shared their line of work. 27 A similar feeling of camaraderie characterized mining communities. 28 A resilient working ms over the first half of the twentieth century marked by tough men, suspicious of their sedentary overseers. 29 30 Whe the clock production halted during the Great Depression, 31 other cit 32 t in those mines and mills that 33 The shared work and residential spaces made it easy for unions to gain a foothold. Commenting on the interracial relationships forged at the workplace, a black fireman at re was a devil in that furnace 34 27 28 Robert Woodrun, Everybody was Black Down There: Race and Industrial Change in the Alabama Coalfields. 29 Morgan, interview, BCRI. 30 Time Magazine 15 December 1958. 31 32 George R. Leighton, "Birmingham, Alabama: The City of Perpetual Promise," Harper's Magazine CLXXV, Au gust 1937, 239, quoted in Ingalls, "Antiradical Violence in Birmingham During the 1930s," 522. 33 Christopher Scribner, Renewing Birmingham. 34 David Allen and Sloss Fireman, Interview, 27 March 1984, University of Alabama Oral History Project, Digital Collections.
33 proletariat, the terrifying conditions in the 1930s prompted men to align along lines of class rather t e had nothing to white miner. 35 Working men had more in common with one another than with the white men who profited off of their hard labor. As one black miner commented about the race 36 To the working ed like two thousand miles away. C amaraderie based on skin color between wealthy white men and poor whites in the 1930s and early 1940s was nowhere to be found. 37 As Robert Johnson, an L and N ra 38 Organization (CIO) unions. Founded in 1935 by John Lewis, Sidn ey Hillman, and David Dubinsky, the CIO was a biracial, inclusive, industrial labor union which stood in contrast to the exclusive and craft oriented American Federation of Labor. While there was a precedent for interracial cooperation in Birmingham throu gh the United Mine Workers of America around the turn of the century, there was little momentum for labor 35 Woodrun, Everybody was Black Down There, 50. 36 Woodrun, Everybody was Black Down There, 50. 37 Staples, interview, BCRI. 38 Robert Johnson Interview, 19 August 1939, Carnegie Myrdal Study 1940, Microfilm 6772 005, BCRI.
34 39 The organizing drives UMWA sent black and white organizers to the Alabama coal fields and enlisted almost all miners under the National Recovery Act, sixty percent of wh om were African American. 40 The UMWA fought for higher wages, better working conditions, and fairer 41 The United Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers organized five thousand ore miners between 1934 and 1938. In 1936; interracial unionism was strengthened with the founding of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) under the guidance of 42 Mitch, an Ohio native and the former director of the UMWA in Indiana, inc reased union membership of both black and white steelworkers. 43 In 1937, U.S. Steel officially recognized and contracted with and pay dues during the most difficult of econo mic times. 44 Philip Murray became president of the CIO and the leader of the new Unit ed St eel Workers of America (USWA) in 1942. The USWA represented workers in ore mines and in steel, tin, and 39 40 Woodrun, Everybody was Black Down There, 220. 41 Woodrun, Everybody was Black Down There, 220. 42 43 44
35 aluminum mills. By the beginning of WWII, 50,000 workers pled ged union membership in Jefferson County. 45 The creation of sturdy biracial steel, coal, and ore unions in Birmingham in the 1930s became a unique achievement in the labor history of the South. Union men organized the white community while black ministers p layed a key role in organizing the black community. 46 understood itself instead to an 47 According to labor historian Judith Stein, the first goal of the CIO unions in Birmingham was to bring wages up to the northern pay scale. The southern wage differential in the steel in dustry ended in 1954 but beginning in 1937, Mitch and the UMWA began winning wage increases from TCI through the Brotherhood of Captive Mine Workers, a group of union and company men. 48 The SWOC also established a job classification program effectively endi ng the widespread practice of paying black men below their classification. Every mill job had a numerical classification, ranging from JC 1 to JC 30 which corresponded with an hourly rate. This ensured that compensation was clearly measured by job grade r ather than by race, to 49 The classification system 45 Labor History Volume 20, Issue 4, (1979): 532. 46 A.C. Buttram, interview, Collection 976, Box 1, File 1, BPLAD. 47 Buttram, interview, BPLAD. 48 May 1937, UMA Papers, Collection 1754, Box 1, File 8, BPLAD. 49
36 benefitted both blacks and whites. While it ensured that the companies pay African American workers fairly, it simultaneously allayed the fears of wh ites aware that their job could be performed at a cheaper rate by a black worker. 50 CIO unions provided space in Birmingham where blacks had rights to equal treatment, but all of the men lived and worked in a world of white supremacy. 51 Southern hiring was, first and foremost, racialized. African American men held unskilled and, more infrequently, semi men for jobs that had a shorter line of progression a job which would never, because of seniority, become a white collar position. Upward mobility, therefore, was capped at Robert Norr ell aptly named this effect of the Jim Crow South. The dire economic condition of the region prompted the federal government and local labor leaders to join together to find answers. During Thanksgiving weekend in 1938, fifteen hundred people gathered in to the sluggish character of the southern economy. Together, the congregants sought from the Alabama countryside filed in alo ngside congressmen and businessmen from Washington. The conference centered on the Report on the Economic Conditions of the South a congressional study which concluded that the southern economy was not only lagging but slipping backwards. The Southern Co nference on Human Welfare (SCHW) 50 51
37 was the brainchild of Joseph Gelders, a Birmingha m native and labor advocate who was brutally attacked in 1936 for his work with unions in the city. Beginning in 1937, Gelders began to manage a small cadre of Alabama libera l s who worked to organize a forum to discuss the impoverished South. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt endorsed and attended the meeting along with southerners from every class and color. Farmers, politicians, labor organizers, business executives, professors, college students, and newspapermen black, white, men, and women gathered together to push the South forward. Eleanor Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black and the President of 52 In the early afternoon of the second day of the conference, newly elected Birmingham Commi ssioner of Public Safety Bull Connor arrived at the auditorium to enforce the segregation laws of the city. With officers in tow, Connor separated blacks from whites along a center aisle, telli ng those gathered; side reserved for African Americans. In a politically symbolic act, the First Lady refused to move to the white side and instead placed her chair in the middle of the aisle. While labor e. The wife of leading industrialist Charles DeBardeleben bemoaned the conference and the First 52 Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
38 control of race relations. Percy Moore, an African American construction worker they try to run your busine 53 54 Connor segregated the conference at the behest of those m en to whom Morgan referred. Beginning in 1937, Theophilus Eugene after a family member and T heopolus after a notorious bank robber. His mo ther died when he was eight. F or the remainder of his childhood, Connor moved from relative to relative which deprived him of a formal education, a glaring deficiency that infuriated his detractors and made his wealthy supporters uneasy. In 1924, Connor became a basebal l announcer in Birmingham and where he earned his nickname, by play over the radio in his deep, raspy voice to overwhelm the noise of the ticker tape machine. Bull Connor loved the nickname, even going so far as to list himself as Bull in the phonebook 55 53 Percy Moore, intervi ew with Joseph Taylor, 19 August 1938, Carnegie Myrdal Study 1940, Microfilm 6772 005, BCRI. 54 Morgan, interview, BCRI. 55 New York Times.
39 radio fans. 56 He won by a large margin on ac slapping, church going, good 57 When asked about his victory, Connor legislature? It was like taking a brick layer and sending him out on the stage toe 58 Three years later, with the support of his closest aide and TCI lawyer, Jim Commissioner of Public Safety, because his opponent fo r the position had fallen out of favor. The Commissioner of Public Safety controlled the police department, fire seemed to be everything that the citizens of Birmingham wanted: he ran as an independent candidate Birmingham, Connor ran on a platform of raci al purity, family valu es, and an oath to expel labor radicals from the town. The latter point courted the attention of the Big Mules who gave quietly but handsomely to his campaign. Bull kept taxes low, controlled the brash Commissioner in power. 59 56 ama Faces the Civil Rights 57 58 59
40 60 Lut her Patrick, another industrialists, the Klan and the white supremacy boys is the most vicious alliance possible. . they keep the campfires burning because it pays and they keep on owning 61 During the late 1930s and 1940s, Bull Connor honored his campaign promise to run the unions out of Birmingham. With Connor as a willing pawn, the industrialists moved to break the unions through establish ment violence. Using the municipal police mines and mills. White supremacist groups, the Klan, the White Legion, the American Legion, the Silver Shirts, and the Alabama Blac 62 mines 63 Biracial unions, the SWOC and UMWA, continued to recruit and maintain white and black membership in Birmingham throughout the 1930s and into the war era. Men in unions and mines, reported attorney Charles Morgan Jr. never wor 64 A strong class identity informed the politics of the workplace and the wider machinations of society. 60 Head, interview, BCRI. 61 Patrick, interview, BCRI. 62 63 64 Morgan, interview, BCRI.
41 While miners and mill workers lived on the western side of Birming ham in Jones Valley, the middle class and elite live d in elevated neighborhoods along Highland Avenue and over Red Mountain. The smoke from the steel mills obscured the view from the eastern and more elevated edg e of Birmingham, a barrier that protected rich whites from the poverty below. Ruth Bruner, the d aughter of an executive at the DeBardeleben 65 Following World War II, the estrange ment between the working class and the well to do grew as increasing numbers of white collared men and their families moved to the unincorporated suburbs of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and H omewood. Just as stretch of thousands of miles, those along and over Red Mountain considered the city to ote in her 66 The very wealthiest men in Jefferson County lived in Mountain Brook, the only g to Charles Morgan. 67 Founded in 1929 by Robert Jemison and incorporated in 1942, Mountain Brook rests on the rise of Red Mountain. Designed by Boston landscape architect Warren M anning, the small town resembled northern cities of extreme 65 Ruth T. Bruner and Hattie H. Adolphus, interview with Dawn Thomas, 21 May 1976, University of Alabama Oral History Project, Digital Collections. 66 Virginia Foster Durr, Outside the Magic Circle: The Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr ed. Hollinger F. Barnard (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985), 25. 67 Morgan, interview, BCRI.
42 affluence in the 1930s and 1940s. Estate sized lots dotted winding roads which were each organized around one of three village centers. Nature preserves insulated Mountain Brook and the town was lush with Dogwood trees and babbling brooks. An old fashioned mill perched al ong one of the waterways completed the appearance of an older, northern town. By the middle of the twentieth century, industrialists, bankers, lawyers, insurance brokers, businessmen and their families populated Mountain Brook, making it Chosen Mountain Brook res an English Tudor style mansion with pool and golf course. 68 New money built the bedroom suburb s and country club of Mountain Brook and it, just like the valley below, the regarded themselves not as overseers but as southern patricians who ruled and cared for the city below. Poi nting out the inaccuracy of this self concept, Birmingham historian Michael Nichols noted that the only evidence of a patrician class was the country clubs and white supremacist outlook of the wealthy, concern beyond the bottom line was never evident. The 69 68 Marilyn Davis Barefield, A History of Mountain Brook, Alabama and Incidentally of Shades Valley (Birmingham: Southern University Press, 1989) p. 155. Quoted from an undated Mountain Brook Country Club Brochure. 69
43 Birmingham native Jim Williams 70 The wealthy and powerful in Birmingham possessed a concrete advantage over poor and working men cumulative poll tax requirement which forced an individual to pay all of his unpaid poll taxes since the age of 21. The cumulative poll tax pushed poor men, black and white, out of the electorate, as well as those who became interested in the franchise later in life a commo n characteristic of men who migrated from the countryside to Birmingham. 71 If working men were able to pay poll taxes during the 1930s and 1940s, they still faced a corrupt electoral system; voting was not clean in Birmingham. you voted, they put a number followed men and women into the voting booth. 72 By the mid 1940s, the ostensibly public ballot combined with the constant animosity toward la bor prompted union leaders to fight for a secret ballot so that the rank and file could vote without fear. 73 added the Boswell Amendment to the ditional all white primary in 1944 and the mounting demands for equal rights from southern blacks 70 Jim Williamson, interview 19 July 1947, Rasmussen Collection at BCRI; last quote comes from Robert xiecrat Journal of Southern History (May 1991): 234. 71 Glenn Feldman. The Disfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama (Athens: University of Georgia, 2004). 72 Nina Miglianico, interview with Ed Lamonte, 23 September 20 03, BCRI. 73 Miglianico, interview, BCRI.
44 but originally conceived by the conservative Chairman of the Democratic Committee Gessner McCorvey of Mobile, the Boswell Amendment provided the Big Mules with a tool to control voter eligibility. Effectually, the amendment gave registr ars the authority obviously subjective tool intended to manipulate the color and class of the ballot box. State legislators approved of the amendment almost unanimously and it was placed on official insignia of The fight over the Boswell Amendment, V.O. Key commented, exposed the pe. Newly and Lister Hill represented the liberal side of the debate and opposed the amendment which Hill warned would prevent suffrage not just for blacks in Alabama but for anyone 74 By 1948, white men in overalls reported strict scrutiny and dismissal from Jefferson County registrars on Election Day. 75 74 William D. Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1984), 66. 75 Birmingham News 20 November 1947 and 28 January 1948.
45 major ne wspapers, organized labor, African Americans, and religious minorities. 76 Still others recognized the danger in a subjective requirement for the franchise even though they were not politically aligned with the liberal wing of the party. A letter to the Birm ingham News from a merchant who oppose d both the CIO and Eleanor Roosevelt one gift horse which it behooves us to look straight in the mouth its teeth are as false as a d ime 77 The Boswell Amendment became crucial in maintaining the political power of the conservative Black Belt. Along with the cumulative poll tax, the 1901 Cons titution 78 The recent disproportionate political power. In his campaign, Folsom promised to reapport ion can take the Southern Bourbons by the scruff of the neck and shove them aside like spindly 79 Birmingha elite would not be so easily pushed aside. Past governor, Big Mule lawyer, and 76 William D. Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50, 66. 77 Birmingham News 22 September 1946. 78 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50 49. 79 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50 54.
46 Birmingham resident Frank Dixon and infamous Birmingham demagogue Horace amendment. Local conservatives who advocated restrictive suffrage guidelines did so hands of uns 80 Decency and white skin blended rhetorically in the discourse of white supremac ists in the 1940s, a fusion which jettisoned blacks from morality over those of economic importance increased in th e post war years due to the large influx of farmers and their families between 1944 and 1950, and the social disorder wrought by the mass migration. This trend is apparent not only in the resurgence of a new Klan in Alabama that flogged misbehaving whites, but also in the campaign for the Boswell Amendment, which passed in Alabama in 1946 by a slim margin, 89,263 to 76,843. In Birmingham, the amendment passed with consider able majorities. In the working class precincts of Fairfield, ACIPCO, and Dolomite, w here the amendment promised to limit the political will of labor, the amendment received majorities of 55, 57, and 58 percent, respectively. These majorities increased in the ballots boxes stationed on the slope and over Red Mountain in the upper class nei ghborhoods of Highland Park, Mountain Brook, and Homewood which voted for the 80 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50 63.
47 Boswell Amendment with 54, 64, and 65 percent support. 81 Although joined by some of the working class whites in Birmingham, the wealthy led the fight against African Americans gai ning the franchise. The disfranchisement of the poor and working class in agenda in the 1930s and 1940s. 82 Reflecting on this era, City Councilwoman Nina Miglianico underli 83 Fighting Labor in the 1940s In 1946, the largest wave of strikes in U.S. history occurred across the three big metal industries, the USWA, the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE). Although companies responded by increasing wages, the limited effect of the massive strike prompted CIO leaders to reach beyond Ame political arm, the CIO launched Operation Dixie in 1946 to increase organization in the South. Op eration Dixie began just as southern elites tried to take advantage of the end of the wartime regulations to fight unionization in order to court and keep northern beca 84 Between 1946 and 1949, the 81 Glenn T. Eskew, But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997). 82 Glenn Feldman, The Disenfranchisement Myth: Poor Wh ites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004). 83 Miglianico, interview, BCRI. 84 As a whole, the southern rate of unionization was only half of the national average. Wage increases came to the South, if grudgingly, but had an ironic and unfortunate effect across southern industry. By
48 unionism 85 In the 1930s and 1940s in Birmingham, racial liberalism was most ofte n found among the working class rather than the wealthy, according to city residents. In 1947, female lawyer and Birmingham source of all of the hostility . so it was quite a shock to me when I came to 86 Union leader Amzi 87 Alabama historian Glenn Feldman asserts that this association was widely accepted, closely connected with the Dixiecrats, Big Mule, and i 88 In Birmingham, the white, middle class failed to challenge the men over the mountain even 1949, mechanization of mines and mills in certain functions became more lucrative than paid workers. Improved wages incentivized companies to mechanize at the same time that the demand for steel was slowly waning. Between 1937 and 1960, steel companies laid off 10 percent of unskilled and semiskilled their workers even as steel production actually doubled in those years. Automation eliminated much of the backbreaking work both under and abo ve ground. Continuous miners and continuous loaders sent blue Stein "Southern Workers in National Unions: Birmingham Steelworkers, 1933 1951," Organi zed Labor in the Twentieth Century South, ed. Robert Zieger, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991), 183 222. 85 Morgan, interview, BCRI. 86 Eleen Wynn, interview, 19 July 1947, Rasmussen Collection at BCRI, File 2. 87 Amzi Barber, interview, 4 A ugust 1948, Rasmussen Collection at BRCI, File 1. 88 Glenn Feldman, "Soft Opposition: Elite Acquiescence and Klan Sponsored Terrorism in Alabama."
49 as their numbers increased in the post war era 89 Joining their wealthier counterparts over Red Mountain, white collared businessmen left the city for the safety and status middling men benefitted from the big businesses in town and supported the goal of an unorganized laboring class. The business progressivism which animated the middle 90 Birmingha Stockham went beyond ensuring limited suffrage and throwing their support behind Connor. Through organized violence, all white company unions, and a powerful discourse of white supremacy, the wea lthy in Birmingham directly influenced working class politics in the city below. When President Roosevelt signed the National Industrial 91 Many industrialists in Birmingham, however, were not as fatalistic. Charles DeBardeleben, son of Birmingham patriarch Henry DeBardeleben, mounted machine guns along his property and promised to shoot any lab or organizers who stepped onto his coal mines. 92 s egregation, anti union magazine that 89 Head, interview, BCRI. 90 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50, 63. 91 Bruner and Adolphus, interview, UAB Oral History Project, Digital Collections. 92
50 over and nurtured by his most understanding friend, 93 Employment Practice in 1942, the passage of the Boswell Amendment in 1946 and the Dixiecrat Revolt in 1948, a political campaign which would forever spli t the two factions of the Alabama Democratic Party. 94 industrialists began to combat biracial organization through all white company unions which promised to give members better job assignments and higher wages. I n the mines of Docena and Wylam, company unions lured white men away from the UMWA. TCI, the reluctant CIO bastion in Birmingham, had by the close of the 1940s signed up to each member including better job assignments and higher wages. 95 While violence targeted labor organizers, company unions crippled biracial organization, and voting restrictions stifled the political expression of the black and poor, the in migration of rural Alabamians into Birmingham changed the social and political landscape of the steel town. From the beginning of World War II to the close of the on the search for rura l workers in the late 1940s, Birmingham citizen Ed McGraw 93 Alabama: News Magazine of the Deep South Volume 7, Number 25, 19 June 1942, 3. 94 95 Judith Stein "Southern Workers in National Unions: Birmingham Steelworkers, 1933 1951," Organized Labor in the Twentieth Century South, ed. Robert Zieger, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991), 1 83 222.
51 done of rural labor, straight from the farm who have no union ideas and think that they are making big money. 96 destinations, as historian Pete Daniel has argued. Socially conservative, religiously rooted in the fundamentals of the Bible Belt, and disoriented by the unsettled state of residents gained a powerful voice in the political discourse in the city. To rationalize limited suffrage, increased appeals to white supremacy, and the violence which supported these aims, men like Wilkinson, Connor, Dixon, and their Big Mule backers adv ocated a community which ran counter to the class allegiances of the CIO, and those which Folsom, Sparkman, and Hill encouraged. By the middle of the 1940s, vocal conservatives in Birmingham campaigned for fraternity based on skin color rather than class. Those who had opposed the New Deal before the war took advantage of the disorder during and following the war to maintain a manageable electorate, weaken labor, and secure their power in Alabama; white supremacy buttressed each of their goals. An overridi ng concern with southern manhood was evident from the outset of the gradual turn away from New Deal liberalism in Alabama toward social 97 Personally and publicly, southern white men contemplated their stake in the racial upbringing with contemporary notions of racial equality, h 96 Ed McGraw, interview, Rasmussen Collection at BCRI, File 22. 97 McGraw, interview, Rasmussen Collection.
52 98 He was not alone; white manhood. The cultural reverence to manhood became politically potent in the post war years as many men raised on the land suffered a gre at loss of independence to the industrial order. 99 Christianity and the Company Throughout the 1940s, the conservative faction of the Democratic Party in While c lass interests animated the party of Roosevelt, the traditional, southern Bourbons employed the gendered rhetoric of white, male supremacy, idealized notions of home rule, and appeals to southern tradition to divide the workers of Alabama. By 1948, Birming successfully exploited the dissonance between southern, white manhood and racial equality. With mounting fervor, Frank Dixon, Horace Wilkinson, Bull Connor, and other Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and racial equality as direct threats against southern, 98 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50, 99. 99 A compelling argument for the reassuring aspects of martial or traditio nal manhood in a generation of Workers and Warriors a study on Inkatha nationalism in South Africa. Thembisa Waetjen, Workers and Warriors: Masculinity and the Struggle for Nation in South Africa (Urbana Cha mpaign: University of Illinois Press, 2004).
53 Christian manhood. 100 This message resonated with the white men in Birmingham who had only recently left the fields and farms of the Alabama countryside. As small towns along the Alabama countryside emptied into Birmingham, farmers encountered the leveling conditions of mine and mill work in the city. Between 1946 and 1949, over 15,000 new family dwellings were built in the city to accommodate the influx of residents, a number which did not meet the demand, according to Mayor Jimmie Morgan. Many families moving into Birmingham had to double up because of the housing shortage. 101 The great in migration affected the sout hern city in important ways. Historian Pete Daniel examin ing the exodus from the southern countryside argue s that the demographic shift transformed the cultures of class in cities as stock car racing and the blues stood to demarcate the well 102 Alongside the budding worlds of wrestling, cars, and country music which Daniel studies, an important shift took place within the working lives of men in Birmingham. Men who d a loss of independence over their daily lives and confronted an urban world in which patriarchy and conservative values could not be taken for granted. The cultural chasm between rural, Bible belt, social conservatives and workers who organized across th e color line in the 1930s to secure their power in the workplace became apparent in both the political and social order of the city. The later 1940s reflected the dislocation felt by many who raw and brooding 100 Morgan, interview, BCRI. 101 102 Daniel, Pete. Lost Revolutions: the South in the 1950s (Chapel Hill: University of Nort h Carolina for Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C., 2000), 125.
54 103 Economic and political marginalization characterized the experiences of rural laborers who moved to the city in the immediate aftermath of the war. By the close of the 1940s, how ever, the recently rural class politics by inflecting blue collar culture with religious fundamentalism and conservative values, inflections which caught the ear of elite. The New Deal D emocrats, a solid political force in the 1944 and 1946 elections in tive, rural minded and rural 104 Birmingham, the cradle of southern labor in the agents of the absent landlords, who are Republican Gender identities of men in the working city carried political meaning in the post war era. With the state seemingly ensconced in the liberal wing of the party in 1946 with Governor Folsom and Senators Hill and Spark 105 Racial, as well as gender prescriptions, defined the insurgency against the libe rals in Birmingham and obscured the pecuniary motivations of the men who lived over the mountain. The racial discourse that emerged in the post war era supplied southern men which a set of cohesive values fraternity of whiteness. Appeals to 103 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50 112. 104 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50 123. 105 Alabama: News Magazin e of the Deep South Volume 12, Number 4, June 19, 1942, 3.
55 southern (white) tradition and Christianity from Dixon, Wilkinson, and other conservative leaders in Birmingham closed the chasm between the wealthy and working people of time socia 106 Issues of ancestors suffused political rhetoric bent toward issues of racial segregation, effectively placing disparate gender prescriptions of white southern men into the concentrated legitimate the cultural heritage and the existing values 107 Alabama our state and the heritage of our fathers; we must to stand together in this battle to preserve things that we hold dear. 108 Implicit in this message was the fusion of white supremacy and small town agrarian, family oriented values. DeBardeleben and his mo uthpieces implored working men in conservative and religious rhetoric of white, male supremacy. 109 In March of 1946, Herbert Stockham, President of Stockham Valves and Fittings, joined the campaign for a more conservative Alabama by presiding over the newly organized Committee for Better Government, Temperance, and Public Morality, a Christian based gro In addition to the traditional discourse of race and the embattled southern way of life, 106 Grantham, Dewey W. The Life & Death of the Solid South: a Political History (Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1988): 64. 107 Samuel S. Hill, Religion and the Solid South (Nashville: Abingdon P ress, 1972), 52. 108 Birmingham News 21 May 1946. 109 In his work, Religion and the Solid South Samuel Hill argues that Prohibition in the South was used to signify an overall social reaction to the changing times. Samuel S. Hill, Religion and the Solid Sout h (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972).
56 white men and wo men. The strength of this appeal, according to historian Dewey the hard, real prob lem of economic and class interests by quixotic crusades for some 110 Using conservative Christianity to underpin a campaign to perpetuate deep inequality across Birmingham, Stockham and his colleagues fused white supremacy with moral righteousness, a movement directed 111 Christianity and white, male supremacy resided at the heart of both the code and the conservative outlook. the Southern Outlook, in which he advocated racial rather than class unity. As Baptist deacon and Sunday school president Wilkinson discussed matters of white supremacy alongside illustrations of Bible stories. 112 Christianity buttressed an increasing conservatism on social issues, a movement which, according to souther n historian William Barnard, gained support from the sout garnered resonated with men in times of disorder. 113 A strong 110 Dewey Grantham, The Democratic South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1963): 55. 111 Grantham, The Democratic South 56. 112 Feldman, Glenn. From Demagogue to Dixiecrat: Horace Wilkinson and the Politics of Race (Lanham: University of America, 1995):128. 113 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50 25.
57 source of identity and community, Wilkinson and his colleagues wielded Christianity to legitimate white supremacy over class consciou sness. Dixiecrats minded men When D emocrats elected President Harry Truman as the presidential nominee at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, self emocrats from the lower South states walked out. Their discord with Truman stemmed f rom his actions on civil r ights. Specifically, the newly formed Dixiecrats opposed the desegregation of the armed forces, as well as a string of legis lative victories that promised to roll back s outhern delegates agreed to meet in the steel city to outline their platform and elect a new democratic nominee to send to the White House. Leading up to the meeting, Frank Dixon proclaimed that the national party drove a knife i nto the heart of the South promised that the delegates in Birmingham would send a clea r message to the Party that the Solid South could no longer be taken for granted. 114 His statement proved prophetic. On July 17, 1948, 6,000 white, southern democrats walked into the overheate d Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, the host of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare in the previous decade, to watch as Dixon rapped the meeting to order. Over Dec 114 New York Times 16 July 1948.
58 Thurmond as their presidential nominee and Mississippi Governor Fielding L. Wright for vice president. 115 The atmosphere at the convention was an exaggerated bow to the picture of Robert E. Lee draped one wall and the stars and bars drooped on staffs adorning resounded throughout the large hall. 116 A slated speaker from Texas of Oklahoma underscored the message of racial essentialism by 117 Governor Thurmond added to the mood when assured the crowd that there in the army to break down segregation and admit Negroes into 118 The last thing that the South will worse than coward 115 Christian Science Monitor 16 July 1948. 116 Descriptions of atmosphere and appearance of Dixiecrat Convention in Birmingham come from John New Y ork Times 16 July Christian Science Monitor 117 New York Times 20 July 1948. 118 Robert Howard, Chicago Daily Tribune 18 July 1948.
59 Rights democrats would make sure that the looming racial and gender disorder could be pushed back by str ong and determined men. Thurmond would be the name under the rooster. In the fall of 1948, the Alabama ballot did not have President Truman listed as 119 Truman won wi thout the lower South in 1948 and his victory signaled a trying to save their politi 120 On April 12, 1949 Folsom and other Democratic Party Loyalists organized a major fundraising dinner in Birmingham, the Jefferson Jackson dinner, to galvaniz e those democrats who were not Dixiecrats. presidential ballot, invited Vice s invitation, a man who, according to Dixiecrat Charles Collins, proved irreverent to the powerful in Alabama. Barkley had the 121 J. Miller B 119 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50 65. 120 Barber, interview, Rasmussen Collection. 121 Dixiecrats and D emocrats, 183.
60 122 Frank Dixon, who was in Birmingham when 1,000 Alabama Democrats attended the gala, urged his fellow the civilization of this region be sacrif 123 The emotional appeal to a more traditional political identification with the revolt. The Dixiecrat party, however, did not increase home or the workplace; still, white supremacy held within it a traditional, conservative, male supremacist worldview that reassured men James McBride Dabbs put it, white 124 On April 2, 1946, the Alabama Ku Klux Klan came back from the dead. Five neighborhoods of North Birmingham, ACIPCO, Powderly, Elmwood, and Tarrant City. 125 Soon after, William Morris, a roofing contractor, and Dr. E.P. Pruitt, an older Birmingham physician, ction of the 122 Birmingham News 13 March 1949. 123 Barnard, Dixiecrats and Democrats: Alabama Politics, 1942 50, 138. 124 Dabbs, Who Speaks for the South 310. 125 Chicago Defender 6 April 1946.
61 126 secretary for the Southern Conference on Human Welfare (SCHW), disagreed. He believed that the new Klan was a reaction to the growing strength of interracial unions in made the Klan possible and he claimed 127 surged in the mining districts of Walker and Jeffe rson counties where white men flocked to the newly incorporated bed sheet order. 128 In 1949, in the wake of the Dixiecrat Movement, members, 7,000 in Birmingham alone. 129 During the early summer, violence swept targeted by a new Klan that was preoccupied with both racial and gender order. In June 1949, the hooded organization rode across the state setting fire to eighty nine crosses and attacking over twenty Alabamians, most of whom were white women. 130 On the evening of June 11, twenty Birmingham Klan smen forced their way into the home of Edna McDanal, a middle aged white woman, grabbed her, struck her, and pulle d her outside in her nightgown to watch a cross burn on her lawn. According to 126 New York Times 22 July 1946. 127 New York Times 6 September 1946. 128 Irving Bei Christian Science Monitor, 29 June 1949. 129 Glenn Feldman, "Soft Opposition: Elite Acquiescence and Klan Sponsored Terrorism in Alabama." Historical Journal 40 (September 1997): 753 777. 130 Glenn Feldman, "Soft O pposition: Elite Acquiescence and Klan Sponsored Terrorism in Alabama." Historical Journal 40 (September 1997): 764.
62 couples, selling whiskey, and dancing naked on her front porch. Down the street from a group of almost sixty hooded men crowded into cars and drove to segregated sections. The sheeted men barged into the small restaurant and pushed the black customers outside, f orcing the stunned group to watch a cross burn. Another group whipped thirty one year old Billy Stovall for leaving his children alone in his house. 131 In the small town of Littleton, just outside of Jefferson County, seventeen hooded men entered a weeknigh t revival meeting where one Klan member replaced the itinerant preacher on the altar to lecture the congregation about rumors of un Christian morals of the village must be 132 The alleged offenses included alcohol, and drinking prompted the Klan to go after white women. For white men, neglect of responsibilities in th e workplace, church, or the home warranted a visit from the shrouded men. 133 By the end of June 1949, Birmingham police had arrested seventeen white men for flogging, molesting, and intimidating resi dents. A grand jury was appointed and the 134 But the first grand jury never 131 New York Times 16 June 1949. 132 Chicago Dai ly Tribune 26 June 1949. 133 134 Time Magazine 25 July 1949.
63 convened on account of the fact that eight een of the jury members and the Judge were either current or past members of the Klan. By November, a new trial was underway, according to one reporter, the trial appeared farc ical. The reporter found Klansmen white mustachioed Judge Robert J. Wheeler pausing to spit in his cuspidor, while the plump attorney for the defense rested on the t able during cross examination. 135 The star captors while they held her in her nightgown before the burning cross. One of the unmasked men was, according to McDanal, Brownie L ollar, a coal mine operator and when he and a group of hooded men hauled her mother, her sister, three male visitors, and herself out to the woods to kneel them befor e a praying preacher before whipping them with a rope. A fellow Klan member testified before the grand jury that he was with white, male jury returned with a verdict of not guilty after quick deliberation, the courtroom broke into applause. 136 The power of the Klan, after only three years, was compelling. high incidence of terrorism in 1949 in Jefferson County p rompted state and federal the conclusion reached by Dobbs in 1946: that the 135 Time Magazine 7 November 1949. 136
64 of the city held a vested interest in a divided workin g class; that moneyed men financed and directed the Klan in the steel town. As Alabama Attorney General Carmichael mahogany desks of the big office buildings in Birmingha 137 The U.S. department of hooded terrorism in Alabama . with the deliberate purpose of inflaming race prejudice 138 Big Mules were in it for the bottom line; the rise of biracial unions in the 1930s and 1940s threatened the division that protected unorganized and cheap labor and kept U.S. Steel in town. 139 However, the ideals which inspired poorer men to carry out the ord the subtle strength of southern racism. White supremacy empowered all white men to direct blacks as well as white women and children, a tempting source of authority in times of economic or social crisis. The expanded agenda not only to intimidate black community members but also to act as sentinels of southern white morality betrays a growing anxiety concerning the power of patriarchy in the urban South. The Klan and their deep pocketed ba ckers aligned integrated restaurants drinking women, and absentee fathers a s threats similar in nature in an effort to unite men cramped into mines with those tucked behind mahogany desks. 137 Washington Post 28 June 1949. 138 139
65 Conclusion Although ideas about family and masculinity worked as powerful ideological vehicles to create a shared identity of southern whiteness, some white workers in promise of Christian, traditional manhood espoused by the Big Mules an dangerous and extremely hot conditions of the coke oven, only African Americans the summer manning practices the strikers wanted more men working the ovens when the sweltering summer temperatures made the heat of the ovens unbearable, and the extra men would afford the coke workers needed breaks while on their shift. 140 When the bla ck coke workers walked out in 1951, white union men across TCI walked out with them. 141 Alabama Chamber of C ommerce, led by William P. Engle, a prosperous realtor, Mayor Cooper Green, anti labor representative Laurie Battle, and Reverend John Buchanan of Southside Baptist Church appealed to workers to call off the strike and called in CIO trouble shooters to end Negroes, they are u nion men and they have a just grievance . I would not work at a 140 Judith Stei 206. 141 206.
66 142 The strike stands as evidence that racial solidarity had not CIO members rem ained dedicated to the union. Even though Truman won without the lower South and class solidarity persisted southern meta narrative that bifurcated Christianity and integ ration, southern, white Mules battled interracial unionism and working class consciousness from the turn of the century, but their tactics which included violence and restricted suffrage were not enough to terminally weaken interracial cooperation. The industrial order encountered by a generation of white, southern families destabilized the underpinnings of traditional, southern patriarchy. advantage of an insecurity wrought by economic instability and the humbling machinations of the urban workplace by wedding white supremacy to Christian, male supremacy. According to historian Dewey Grantham, de them more than ever the great 143 The unsettled status of the southern, white male became functional for racial solidarity at the expense of class unity. That identity politics tempted American workers away from class power is not unique to Birmingham in the twentieth century, nor is the notion that the shift from field to factory is a burdensome transition on gender ideals or that gender crisis amplified the allure of white supremacy. 142 Quote found in letter from Walter White, 1951, Morgan Papers, Collection 266, Box 18, File 36, BPLAD. 143 Grantham, Dewey W. The Life & Death of the Solid South: a Political History 123.
67 What makes Birmingham a provocative case study is that those who directed racial animosity in Birmingham in the 1940s, by the 1960s, had designed a new southern archetype, the respectable and progressive businessman, a model that would
68 CHAPTER THREE edition of a monthly Birmingham newspaper devoted to the preservation of racial segregation In the opening letter to selecting The Southerner is sunk deeply into the traditions built for him by his fathers and moth Encouraging fellow southerners to resist integration, Carter and Mabry chastised those compromisers sound their flaccid mutterings and the cowards hide in their chosen 1 By evoking their version of symbolic southern man, Carter and Mabry challenged their readers to remember the sacrifices of those who ha d come portrait and biography served to remind the reader of the blood seeped beneath the so uthern soil and of their duty as white, southern men. The pages of each edition abounded with images of white women touching and embracing black men. Ancestral sacrifice and interracial sex existed as the twin themes of every edition of The Southerner. Wa rning his readers about the sexual implications of integration, Carter 1 Papers, Collection 1763, BPLAD.
69 u have seen it, the fleeting leer, the look that stays an instant longer . 2 Although an exaggerated expression of southern, white mythology in the age of integration, the Southerner expressed anxieties which propelled resistance throughout the 1950s in Birmingham and the South. The architects of massive resistance, from the demagogic politicians to the Big Mules to the Grand Dragons of the Klan, catered their rhetoric and their apocalyptic scenarios directly t o southern male anxiety. Still, the hyper backlash of the 1950s is yet to be fully interrogated. The appeal of massive resistance in the 1950s and early 1960s can be locat ed in racial and gendered anxieties of the era. 3 By selecting a particular phase in chapter examines how white racial extremism moved from the periphery in the early 19 5 0s to the center by the end of the decade. Of this period in Birmingham, Alabama suddenly and completely into cowering silence. These years saw virtually all white d issent from segregationist orthodoxy disappear and sentiments once thought extreme 4 bombastic and hateful speech of the day; they also quietly accepted torched homes and 2 September/October 1956, 16. 3 K. A. Cuordileone, "Politics in an Age of Anxiety: Cold War Political Culture and the Crisis American Masculinity, 1949 1960," Journal of American History 87 (September 2000):515 545. 4 J. Mills Thornton, Dividing Lines: Mun icipal Politics and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002), 195.
70 grizzly class character of Birmingham, the brutish violence which overwhelmed the city in the 195 0s and early 196 0s has largely been attributed to the lower, economic strata of white society. However, the fusion of middle class mores and racial moderation was a post 1961 phenomenon in Birmingham. Even after whites were nestled comfortably in their bedroom suburbs over Red Mountain, many returned to the city to take part in the politics of white supremacy. Exploring the multi layered resistance in Bi rmingham, this chapter demonstrate s that the white backlash in the city was a cross class phenomenon to c hallenge the accepted wisdom that vehement white supremacy bubbled to the surface of society f rom the lower classes. Among whites, a reactionary consensus developed among men fastened in collars, both white and blue, living in city as well as suburb. The later 195 0s was an era of unprecedented collusion between white union men, businessmen, and po liticians in a city renowned for its class divisions. The beginning of this chapter demonstrates the vertical nature of massive resistance in Birmingham after Brown from the legal community to the lower whites from th e very second part of this chapter outlines the social, political, and cultural landscape of Birmingham in this period to contextualize the anxieties felt by white men throughout city and suburb. Finally, the third part of this chapter addresses questions of causality and the centrality of southern manhood to white resistance. Much has been written about the reasons for white resistance: the scars of cultural transmis sion, the monetary and psychological advantages of whiteness, as well as
71 deeply economic stra ta financed, organized, and committed atrocities in the name of the college educated businessman, did not. With painfully few exceptions, white men remained silent as racial extremism swallowed their city. In the years following the Supreme Court ruling on school integration, reactionary forces in Birmingham stitched together a new, southern white man whose first claim to manhood was fealty to segregation. Using the r hetoric of public officials, white supremacist organization members, citizen letter writers, as well as an exploration into the specific sites of violence in Birmingham, the latter portion of this chapter demonstrates how massive resistance became a functi segregationists effectively turned issues of race and racial equality into battles over southern, white Christian manhood and, in so doing, rallied white resistance as well as pressured assent to i ts most destructive manifestations. 5 Birmingham after Brown In the early 1950s, white opinions regarding the primacy of racial segregation were 5 Although white women in Birmingham took part of the white backlash in Birmingham, men played the most visible and vocal roles in the sites of backlash: municipal politics, local organizations such as the Ku efforts to the Birmingham City Commission and editoria l writers to the Birmingham News and the Birmingham Post Herald With very few exceptions, the histories of southern whites who lived through the civil rights era are stories of men: men devoted to the safety of their wives and sisters, men who are ever mi men who stand firmly together, anxious to stem the tide of integration and federal interference. Yet, southern manhood throughout the era remains unexplored. As southern white men lost many of the advantages that whiteness afforded them as well as a very public struggle against federal encroachment, a shift in the ideals of manhood took root.
72 white and black mid dle class men and women formed the Interracial Citizens Committee the same year. The newly elected, racially moderate City Commission included Mayor James Morgan, Public Safety Commissioner Robert Lindbergh, and Commissioner of Public Improvements, Wade Br adley. These commissioners expressed support for both integrated professional sports and an integrated police force. By the early spring of 1954, almost three years had passed since the last incident of Klan violence, the Interracial Committee remained st wh o had departed his post amidst scandal, appeared to be political history. In January of 1954, the City Commissioners voted unanimously to repeal the 1950 ban on the approval of all right 6 However, this small step forward elicited a vigorous response from both sides of one local m an to Mayor Morgan. 7 8 9 To have kept the ban on the books, a 10 6 Birmingham News ,17 September 1953. 7 W.P. Ingram to Mayor Morgan, 15 February 1954, Morgan Papers, Collection 266, Box 19, Folder 6, BPLAD. 8 Ms. Pat King to Mayor Morgan, 18 September 1953, Morgan Papers, Collection 266, Box 19, Folder 1, BPLAD. 9 E.M. Friend to Mayor Morgan, 2 February 1954, Morgan Papers, Collection 266, Box 19, Folder 6, BPLAD. 10 Birmingham Post Herald 18 September 1953.
73 our people are afraid of being called unstylish or backward if they even mention the word segregation. Mr. Connor stands alone . and is not afraid of taking a stand and Birmingham News 11 Nostalgic appeals for times past characterized most of the letters of opposition is doomed to bow her head in shame it will not be because of Unprincipled White Scalawags Bessemer. 12 Hu 13 Building upon a preoccupation with the Civil War and home rule, Association, interracial sports and to expand the ban to interracial swimming in pools, beaches, lakes, or ponds. Interracial swimming pools were already illegal, but Locke effectively tied pro sp orts with young people swimming together in order to rally whites who might otherwise not mind attending an integrated professional football game. By the end of March, he had gathered the necessary 10,000 signatures to put the ban to a city wide vote to be held on June 1. 11 Birmingham News 14 October 1953. 12 Letter to Mayor Morgan from Bessemer with list of signatures, January 1954, Morgan Papers, Collection 266, Box 17, Fo lder 3, BPLAD. 13 D.W. Ramien to Mayor Morgan, 29 January 1954, Morgan Papers, Collection 266, Box 19, Folder 6, BPL AD.
74 The local African American newspaper, the Birmingham World noted the petition 14 Throughout oth sides of the issue remained vocal. Groups such as the Birmingham Junior Chamber of editorialize in the local papers. Many wrote city commissioners in support of their pr the day of the Brown decision the letters stopped. Two weeks later, by a margin of almost three to one, 15 The 1954 Supreme Court ruling f lung Alabama into the civil rights movement and the concomitant maelstrom. In 1955, Rosa Parks kicked off the Montgomery Bus Boycott; Autherine Lucy attempted to integrate the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa the following year. By 1957, the political landscape of Birmingham was dramatically different from just three years previous. Whereas dissimilarity characterized white opinions on racial integration in the spring of 1954, by 1957, public opinion regarding the primacy of segregation was eerily unif orm. 16 five re new to the city. 17 The 14 Birmingham World 26 March 1954. 15 Dallas News 2 June 1954. 16 The amplification of white resistance and the silence of any dissenters is discussed in J. Mills Dividing Lines, p. 195. 17 Bobby M. Wilson, Race and Place in Birmingham: The Civil Rights Movement and Neighborhood Mov ements (New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc); 81.
75 Birmingham Ku Klux Klan reemerged during this period with seven distinct Klaverns across Birmingham. 18 The Interracial Citizens Committee (ICC), the only formal channel of interracial communication in Birmingham, disbanded in 1956 due to economic and members was published in The Southerner 19 During the same year, the Alabama Legislature outlawed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). By the spring of 1957, white supremacists in Birmingham surveyed their city from a position of dominance. There were five large organizations in Jefferson County with chapters throug hout the city dedicated to the preservation of racial segregation and the membership ranged from economy. 20 The reverberations of the aggressive mobilization and organizatio n of segregationist forces in Birmingham beginning in 1954 were extensive. Cries against integration emanated from newspapers, local organizations, neighborhood associations, hite newspapers, the Birmingham Post Herald and the Birmingham News after taking moderate stances on the Brown decision initially, came to refl ect the feeling of hysteria in the city. By 1956, both the Post Herald and the News advocated total segregation in 18 Wyn Craig Wade, The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 302 303. 19 April/May 1956, 2a. 20 These
76 Consistently, both papers printed editorials warning citizens of the purported dangers of integration and the News often reprinted Commissioner Bu ll under attack. 21 Birmingham even broadcast a white supremacist radio show. Beginning in September 1954, the voice of devoted se gregationist and Klan member Ace Carter boomed through radios across Birmingham, two times a day, five days a week. 22 Born and raised in Oxford, Alabama, Carter left Calhoun County to serve in the navy during World War II. Following his service, Carter married India Thelma Walker and studied jour nalism at the University of Colorado, where he honed his natural proclivity for the power of language. Although he went on to write award wherein he promised a vocal segregationist created and edited founded th e Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy, and worked as a speech writ er for Wallace 23 21 22 New York Times 4 October 1991. Asa Carter was a member of the Ensley Klan Klavern No. 31. 23 Dan Carter, The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of New Conservativism, and the Transformation of American Politics (B aton Rouge: Lousiana State University Press, 1995); Glenn Eskew, But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle. Asa Carter went on to become a vocal advocate for the rights of Native Americans and an award winning author under the pen name, Forrest Carter. His most famous works include The Rebel Outlaw: Josie Wales (1975) and The Education of Little Tree (1975) Josie Wales was later turned into a movie, The Outlaw Josie Wales, starring Clint Eastwood.
77 whose ranks included William Hoover, the president of Employers Insurance Company, and Sydne s which are important to us all agenda b ehind t he civil rights movement and the embattled position of southern he Communist wants the tearing down and the amalgamation into an irresponsible, mongrelized mass cro sses the lines set down by God a 24 Moving beyond radio, the ASRA also distributed leaflets throughout Birmingham, most of which concerned the discrepancy between venereal disease and illegitimate birth rates by state between whites and blacks. Olin Horton, president of ASRA, distributed these comparisons in neatly columned paper on a regular basis, both to association members and to the local papers. 25 Racial degradation through miscegenation became the key plank in the AS RA platform against inte gration. Horton and others combed through national papers to gather data to confirm their worst fears, a through the man of Ace Carter. 26 Kicked out of the ASRA for widening his attack to the 24 29, BPLAD. 25 ation Papers, Collection 416, Box 1, File 4, BPLAD. 26 29, BPLAD.
78 Birmingham and its environs boasted twenty whose membership claimed to be representative of both city and suburb. 27 In his s tudy b 28 lawyers, business, professional men, regular workers, every day people, people that love their children, people that remembered reading history, people who wanted to look out Rice, a past member of the North Birmingham chapter of the Alabama Citizen Council. 29 accompan 30 political a nd economic leaders in the city 27 Collection, Un iversity of Alabama, William Stanley Hoole Special Collections (hereafter WSHSC). 28 29 Rice, interview, WSHSC. 30 Brian Ward, "Race, Politics and Culture: The Cole Incident of 1956," in R. Halpern and M. Stokes, (eds), Race and Class in the American South Since 1890 (Berg Publishers, 1994), 187. Quote originally The Reporter 17 May 1956, 20.
79 to pres conservative consensus supporting that objective. 31 which moved quickly to duck the impending deseg regation of public schools. On February 10, 1956, the Alabama legislature drafted a resolution de claring that the Supreme Court decision to be 32 In July of the same year, Joseph P. Johnston, a partner in a Birmingham law fir m and grandson of a former Alabama Governor Joseph F. Johnston, presented a list of legislative options to the Alabama state bar association in anticipation of a constitutional challenge to segregated unanimously issued an o fficial statement charging that Brown was in direct conflict with both the c onstitution and legal precedent. The Alabama Bar Association resolved to decision. 33 In an article published in the Alabama Lawyer one month later, Johnston had moved past the questions of self over the cliff if pursued to its 34 Senator Albert Boutwell of Birmingham, along with a committee assigned by the 31 Ward, "Race, Politics and Culture: The Cole Incident of 1956," 153. 32 BPLAD. 33 Birmingham News 19 July 1956. 34 Jos Alabama Lawyer, 17 (August, 1956) p. 22.
80 Johnston on what came to party school system which made some sch ools all white, some all black, and some integrated; parents could choose which school was best for their child. To advocate the or Boutwell made over 100 speeches on a statewide tour. 35 corresponded candidly regarding the difficulty facing anyone who chose to challenge the plan. Between 1954 and 1956, racial segreg ation became a prior ity among Birmingham whites. In 1957, Connor returned to his post as Commissioner of Public 36 Brown sive stance back to 37 times, wherein the primacy of se gregation became absolute. In a city conspicuously before Brown In its aftermath, the more extreme forces of white resistance successfully The 1960, where none had previousl y existed. From the newspapers, to the radio, from formal announcements by the City Commission to informal meetings in parking lots, the city was awash in Massive Resistance. 35 36 Birmingham News 22 April 1957. 37 Time Magazine 15 December 1958.
81 Imperiled Patriarchy On July 30, 1952, the Birmingham Post Herald reported the findings of the 1950 U.S. Census with an article entitled, "Birmingham Leads the South in Non Whites." 38 Totaling almost two fifths of the city's population, the proportion of Birmingham's non white population was the largest in the region, surpassing that of both Memphis and Atlanta. 39 In addition to the rising number of African Americans, Birmingham also attracted many more new residents from the southern countryside. Between 1940 and ere recent citizens of Birmingham when the flight to the surrounding white suburbs is taken into account. 40 On July 15, 1953, the Birmingham News reported the findings of the 1950 census with an article entitled, "Birmingham Women Outnumber Men." 41 "It's proclaimed Lane Carter of the Birmingham News when the census numbers returned showing almost 14,000 more women than men in a population just above 326,000. 42 More of the "so called gentler sex" had joined the work force, about 13,000 mo re since the last census and the education level of women and men in Birmingham was competitive by 1960. 43 The 1950s witnessed a decline in gender inequality across all 38 Birmingham Post Herald 30 July 1952. 39 Birmingham Post Herald, 30 July 1952. Ninety seven percent of the non white population listed were African American. 40 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Seventeenth Census, vol. 2, General Characteristics of the Population, Alabama, pt. 2, Detailed Characteristics, tables 77,87. 41 42 Birmingham News 30 July 1952.. 43 Information compiled in the 1960 Audit of Birmingham, found in the Tutwiler Special Collections at BPL. 5.8 percent (8,580) of men had attended four or more years of school while the number was o nly slightly
82 classes. While many lower class women joined the work force out of necessity, Birmingha class women increasingly chose to pick up part time work. 44 Along with work outside of the house, the link between southern femininity and motherhood became less absolute as one child or were not m others at all. 45 With more money and time on their hands, began to move out of the patriarchal confines of Al men and women from Alabama yside also brought more modern rituals which contributed to a burgeoning youth culture centered on fast cars and loud music. 46 Friday nights in Birmingham saw tens and often hundreds of cars, packed with teenagers, parked on the field near the Birm Elvis Presley Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, and Fats Domino. The young Birmingham residents often ended the eve ning with late night drag races around what ca me to be where loca l adults complained of teenag ers hitting baseball bats against mailboxes, dragging garbage cans, running across lawns 47 averaging a ninth grade education while the average man in Birmingham did not complete the eighth grade. 44 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Seventeenth Ce nsus, vol. 2, General Characteristics of the Population, Alabama, pt. 2, Detailed Characteristics, tables 77,87. 45 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Seventeenth Census, vol. 2, General Characteristics of the Population, Alabama, pt. 2, Detailed Characteristics, t ables 77,87. 46 Pete Daniel, Lost Revolutions: the South in the 1950s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina for Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C., 2000). 47 Photograph and short account of the weekend night social gathe come from Jim Bagget, Historic Photos of Birmingham (Turner Publishing Company) 2006. Accounts of the drag racing can be found throughout the local letters written to Mayor Jimmie Morgan and the Birmingham Police Department t
83 Youth was a national if not a global obse ssion by the middle of the 1950 s. Raised by parents who lived thro ugh the Depression and World War II, the American teenager of the 1950s became a wholly new phenomenon. Aided by the luxury of time and the spectacles of popular culture, the young men and women of the 1950s created a distinct subculture in America; they historian William Graebner. 48 Their unique and anti authoritative posture in society was evidenced not only through the emergence of a mass market geared toward these new consumers of the 1950s suc h as the film and fashion industries, but also through the panic that swept the adult nation regarding the excesses and the rebellion of the new American teenager. Elvis Presley, more than any other person of his time, signified the cultural rift between t as well as his unconcealed sexuality. Describing an Elvis Presley performance in 1957, a Time side to side and his entire body takes on a frantic quiver, as if he had swallowed a jackhammer. Full cut hair tousles over his forehead, and sideburns frame his petulant, full lipped face . . His throat seems full of desperate aspirates or hiccupping glottis strokes 49 While ma ny American parents in the 1950 s organized suburban bonfires to set BPLAD. Letter quoted came from a man living in Birmingham who wrote to Connor and Hanes, 27 July 1962, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box 2, File 58, BPLAD. 48 William Graebner, Coming of Age in Buffalo: Youth and Authority in the Postwar Era (Philadelphia: Temple University press): 49 Time Magazine 14 May 1957.
84 suited, tight music and his movements. 50 larger problems o f juvenile delinquency and racial integration. The newspapers in Birmingham reported the rising tide of juvenile delinquency in the 195 0s and local 51 Visual manifestations of the new youth sub culture were everywhere from the big screen to the hair and dress of the young. 52 James Dean, Marlon Brando, ducktail hairstyles, black leather jackets, and stovepipe jeans signi fied an overt break with the dominant adult culture. However, Alabamian referred to it, 53 the unholy alliance be tween white, youth subculture and black music . the American 54 As their young embraced new forms of rebellion, working class men in Birmingham faced difficult times. Technological advances and the disintegration of 50 Time Magazine 14 May 1957. 51 The Birmingham News reported that in Jefferson County, juvenil e delinquency rates had increased by 14.3 percent between 1948 and 1954, Birmingham News 12 April 1956. Letter to Morgan from Arlene Bell regarding rowdyism at football games, 30 September 1955, Morgan Papers, Collection 266, Box 18, File 36, BPLAD; Commis 22, File 2; Letter to Morgan, 12 September 1955, Morgan Papers, Coll ection 266, Box 22, File.3, BPLAD. 52 In his study on postwar Buffalo, historian William Graebner argues that the era saw not just one youth subculture but many depending on socioeconomic class. The music, the dress, and the activities of the white middle class differed from those of the working class teens in Buffalo, New York. The same is true in Birmingham. However, adult concerns over the youth culture in Birmingham stemmed from shared fears of antiauthoritarianism, delinquency, slackened moral standard s, and an overriding obsession with interracial contact, whether it be cultural, social, or sexual contact. Graebner, Coming of Age in Buffalo 53 The Southerner, March 1956. 54 Ritual: Youth Subcultures in Post War Britain 158.
85 national un of labor made its first big impact in Birmingham in 1937 when automatic tables eliminated the roughers and catchers from the sheet mill and the continuous strip mill reduced the num ber of rollers. 55 Just over a decade later, in the 195 0s technology hand loading and the need for human drilling and blasting underground. 56 According to 0s which altered the landscape of labor. 57 In 1955, when the AFL and CIO began to negotiate a merger which would tempered by the Brown decision rebelled against the idea of a national organization making decisions for southern labor. By the close of the 195 0s departed from their historic alliance with the CIO and forged new and less powerful unions to fight the onslaught of mechanization. 58 the e 55 Judith Stein "Southern Workers in National Unions: Birmingham Steelworkers, 1933 1951," Organized Labor in the Twentieth Century South, ed. Robert Zieger, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991), 183 222. 56 Marlene Hunt Rikard, "An Experiment in Welfare Capitalism: The Health Care Services of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Alabama, 1983) 322. 57 Folder SC2549, Birmingham, Samford University, Davis Library Special Collections, 58 Labor Trouble: George Wallace and Union Politics in Alabama ed., Organized Labo r in the Twentieth Century South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991); 255 256.
86 America, and the Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers were effectively raided by the smaller un ions intent on the preservation of southern autonomy and white only membership. 59 remain intact. 60 Birmingham in the 195 0s was a city in flux. Like many cities across the nation, Birmingham was deeply transformed in the post war period. Families abandoned the countryside and crowded into Jones Valley en masse just as wealthier whites hurriedly superficial rebellion of Elvis Presley and enjoyed the liberating power of the automobile. Birmi Americans, strengthened by the 1954 Brown decision, initiated organized campaigns to challenge the injustices of Jim Crow on every level, from throughout Ame the sweeping mechanization of both mine and mill and the labor disorder which followed 59 Labor Trouble, 256. 60 In metropolitan Birmingham, the division of labor and wages relegated many African Americans to unskilled work and low wag es. In 1950, the annual income for whites was $2,274 compared to $1,087 for blacks. 60 who worked as domestics in the city and over the mountain made their living at the bottom of the income ladder in 1950, bringing home an average of $538 a year. Unskilled, or mainly black labor, pulled in an average of $1,725 annually. Those who worked as domestics and unskilled laborers lived in impoverished conditions. In 1960, Jef ferson County officials found that nearly 70,000 Birmingham residents were malnourished. 60 The semiskilled labor class comprised both of blacks and whites made $2,203 a year with black professionals making slightly more and white professionals topping the l adder with an average annual income of $4,000. 60 worked alongside one another, most notably in the semi skilled sector of industry. With the introduction of mechanized mining in Birmin gham in the 1950s, unskilled and semi skilled job security became tenuous.
87 the merger of the AFL and CIO. 61 In an era that witnessed growing autonomy for women and young shrinking power in the home, as well as, in the workplace. Sex has always been integral to southern constructions of race and class. In her recollections of life in Birmingham, Alabama, Virginia Foster Durr recounted how her mother made clear the differences between nice, white southerners and poor, white e and upper classes of whites by their neighborhood, their economic level, and by their brand of Presbyterians, lived in n ide ntified the poorest whites by their yellow pallor, their manners, their infections such as hook worm blacks, who according to Virginia Durr w hite southerners held deep know personally) were aff licted with venereal diseases. This was the basis, Durr reasoned, for segregation. Whites could no t drink from their water fountain s, share their 61 Birmingham Post Herald 30 July 1952. For 158. In 1956, the Birmingham News reported that the Jefferson County juvenile delinquency rates had increased by 14.3 percent between 1948 and 1954, 12 April 1956. Citizens regularly complained about the increase in juvenile del Papers, Collection 266, Box 18, File 36, BPLAD. Commission of the City of Birmingham Investigation into 1962, Morgan Papers, Collection 266, Box 22, Files 2, 3, BPLAD.
88 blacks and poor whites. 62 essentialism, her depictions of white ideas about the moral inferi ority of blacks in Birmingham were also evident in the political culture of the 1950s and early 1960s. master race, forever jettisoned the science of eugenics from wide social a cceptance, even in the South. 63 White southerners relinquished their faith in the biological superiority of their race over the course of the first half of the twentieth century, replacing it with an equally strong belief in the cultural and moral superiori ty of most whites over most blacks. To sustain this assertion in the 1950s, Birmingham segregationists made public increased rates of crime, venereal diseases, and illegitimacy among southern blacks to valida te claims of moral inferiority and pointed to be services in the black community to argue that racial differences could be evidenced by cultural divergence. Integration, according to men such as Hugh Locke Sr., promi sed to 62 and Tender Ties : The Politics of Comparison in North Ameri The Journal of American History (2001): 829 865; Laura Briggs, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico (Berkeley: University of California, 2002). Virginia Foster Durr and Holli nger F. Barnard. Outside the Magic Circle: the Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 1985), 254. In the first chapter of her autobiography, Durr explains how her mother hierarchy. 63 While this is the popular narrative, Alexandra Minna Stern challenges it to argue that the American belief in eugenics was repackaged and practiced until the 1960s, see Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). Still, the discourse in Birmingham turned away from arguing for the biological inferiority of blacks toward the argu ment that the moral and cultural underpinnings of the black community in the South were more Victorian than their white counterparts.
89 peculiarities of the Americans evince features wh ich are accessible to psychoanalytic investigations. These features point to energetic social repressions. The causes for the repressions can be found in the specific complex, namely, in the living together with lower races, especially with Negroes. Americ ans 64 Sexual and cultural practices, over mere biology, became the signifiers of r ace difference within the discourse of Massive Resistance. Although the largely uncritical acceptance of the belief in the moral superiority of whites expressed itself in a myriad of ways across the South, this conviction shrouded segregation behind the r hetoric of decency and Christian uprightness in Birmingham. But race as practice also made the meanings of racial difference tenuous, an effect that caused whites to guard their privilege and their progeny ever more closely. In respons e to the expulsion of the NAACP in Alabama along with the fevered o rganization of local whites Birmingham civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth, Reverend N.H. Smith Jr., Reverend T.L. Lane, Reverend G.B. Pruitt, and Reverend R.L. Alford created the Alabama Christian Movem ent for Human Rights (ACMHR) on June 3, 1956. After announcing a rally for organization through the papers and radio, over a church. 65 On June 5, 1956, Reverend Shuttlesworth, alon g with thousands of 64 quote was taken from a speech given by Carl Jung in Nuremburg. 65 Thornton, Dividing Lines 197.
90 struggle in the nation. 66 Shuttlesworth, the new leader, called to the cheering crowd, this is no time for 67 Shuttlesworth galvanized African Americans across Birmingham through direct and indirect appeals to black manhood. The place and import of black masculinity during the struggle for civil rights has gained scholarly attenti on recently. Steve Estes, Timothy Tyson, and Danielle McGuire have examined the centrality of black masculinity to the civil rights movement. 68 In their own way, each has looked at the ways in which masculinity functioned as a tool of redemption for black men and the larger black community throughout the Freedom Struggle. The rallying cry for an aggressive and committed African American male did not go unnoticed by southern whites. If manhood was central to the Movement, so, too, was it fundamental to the backlash. Southern, black men. In the 195 0s direct challenges from each these groups forced white men to fight for and justify their power. 66 ection, Box 3, Folder 12, Martin Luther Spring of 1961, three thousand people attended the first meeting of ACMHR. 67 Birmingham News 6 June 1956. 68 Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010); Estes I Am a Man! Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005); Timothy B.Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1999).
91 Physical Space and Physical Bodi es Although the ACMHR and the larger black community battled for justice on many fronts, the major campaigns for racial integration between 1956 and 1961 concerned met wi th organized, violent, and massive resistance. Far different from the public debates between whites that took place regarding integration in sports and the Birmingham police force, the years between 1956 and 1961 in Birmingham witnessed the advent of publi c consensus among whites regarding racial segregation and the brutality admissible for its preservation. Although reasons underpinning the need for racial segregation were many, the public discourse within the city largely revolved around the gendered noti on of territory, that of both physical land and physical bodies. were never able to think or talk about one without the other. Jim Crow and white resistance to its destructi on was not primarily about southern sovereignty or even both the ideology and 69 In Birmingham, the fear of interracial sex became explicit in the fight for school, residential, and social segregation. With the 1954 Supreme Court decision, southern white manhood fell under attack. Regarding Brown Alaba ma State Senator Walter C. Givhan laid plain white anxiety, 69 144.
92 Negro men. 70 This section takes four incidences of resistance: a castration, an attack at a music concert, a str ing of home bombings, and a church meeting to demonstrate man as husband and father is employed as a justification to maim, attack, and degrade. In the summer of 19 57, Shuttlesworth announced that his children would attend the all white Phillips High School during the upcoming school year. On September 2, one week before the first day of school, six officers of the East Lake Klan in Birmingham met to decide who would be the Captain of the Lair, second only to the Exalted Cyclops. Five of the officers listened as Bart Floyd made his pitch for Captain. Sitting in their lair, a small, cement building with kerosene lamps, dirt floors and windows with blackout curtains, F 71 Rather than taking him at his word, the six jumped into two cars and went hunting for razor blades and a bottle of turpentine, the six headed to Zion City, a poor, b lack African American couple talking outside of a home, a few of the Klan members jumped out of their car and grabbed the thin man and forced him in the backseat of the car and drove back to the lair. On the way, Floyd pistol whipped the man, Edward Aaron, and 70 71 William Bradford Huie, "A Ritual Cutting by the Ku Klux Klan," True Birming ham Post Herald 8 September 1957. The five officers present were: Grover McCullough, William Miller, Jesse Mabry, John Griffin, and Joe Pritchett, the Exalted Cyclops.
93 neck as he forced him to crawl into the dark room. 72 Once the kerosene lamps we re lit, the Klansmen put on their hoods and stood over their victim. Exalted Cyclops Pritchett told the man to give Reverend Shuttlesworth 73 The men knocked their victim to the ground and pinned him to the dirt while Floyd knelt down and the pain of the mutilati on. After passing the scrotum around, the group agreed that Bart Floyd was now worthy to become Captain of the Lair. Pritchett claimed it and kept it as him into the tru nk of one of the cars and drove him to Tarrant Huffman highway where they left him for dead. 74 The nefarious crime of castration has a long history in the South. Usually employed to symbolize the sexual impotence of an African American lynch victim acc 75 accusation of rape. Just before cutting him, the six Klansmen shouted questions at 72 1947 (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia, 1979), 135 138. 73 William Bradford Huie, "A Ritual Cutting by the Ku Klux Klan," True 1964. 74 Birmingham Post Herald 8 September 1957. The victim, Edward Judge Aaron, lived due to the cauterizing effect of the turpentine. time painter was spotted shortly after the Klansmen dropped him onto the side of the road. The motorist who saw him called the Bir mingham police who picked Aaron up and took him to the hospital. Confessions and trials ensued. Two of the men, Miller and Griffin, turned state evidence for suspended sentences. Mabry, Floyd, Pritchett, and McCullough each stood trial, were found guilt y of mayhem, each was sentenced the maximum penalty of twenty years. They were all free by 1965. 75 Journal of the History of Sexuality 3, No. 3, Special Issue: African American Culture and Sexuality (January 1993): 445 467.
94 man? You 76 was to send a message to Shuttlesworth and all black men in Birmingham that their claims to manhood, in their quest to send their children to white schools, would provoke violence However, just as in the cases where the victims were accused of sexually members to prove to themselves and others that white men still had the power to take black manhood. wife, Ruby, brought Brown to Birmingham. On the morning of September 9, Christian Movement vice president Reverend J.S. Pfifer drove Reverend Shuttlesworth, his wife their two daughters, Pat and Frederika, and two other young African American men to all white Phillips High School. When they pulled up to the school, they saw TV crews, about twenty white men, and a few police officers. Shuttlesworth stepped out of th e car and was immediately attacked. In the following moments, the white men assaulted Shuttlesworth with brass knuckles, wooden clubs and chains. Most of the skin was the door and lashed Reverend Pfifer with a chain and then reached into the car and stabbed Mrs. Shuttlesworth in the hip. After a few minutes, patrol cars and motor 76 William Bradford Huie, "A Ritual Cutting by the Ku Klux Klan," True 1964.
95 s cooters arrived on the scene and Reverend Pfifer was able to drive through the crowd to escape the mob. 77 The responses of local city officials and the newspapers to these acts of horrific violence made it clear that the whites in Birmingham would stand u nited when faced 78 itators sought to create a condition of general disturbance at Phillips High School . the good citizens stood up and the guilty were punished there is one thing that I am certain of the good citizens of Birmingham do not want rabble rousers of eith er race to disturb the peaceful conditions of the city . each race has its time honored traditions and except for the few occasions on the part of the hot heads and rabble rousers nothing has occurred to unduly disturb our happy existence in this beau 79 The attack on Shuttlesworth and his family along with the public and official sanctioning of such acute violence is evidence of the perceived threat of racial integration. The fear at the time stemmed not from interracial classrooms, but from interracial r elationships. In an interview, E.E., a Jefferson County White Citizens Council member confessed, Intermarriage is primarily what I am afraid of in the future. Not worried about integration specifically, I am worried about what it would lead to. 80 77 Fred L. Shuttlesworth, "Birmingham Revisited," Ebony 125, August 1971, 16. Diane McWhorter, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001), 128 131. 78 Birmingham News, 9 September 1957; Montgomery Advertiser 10 September 1 957. 79 80
96 Anoth er member, Jim Oakley, in recalling why he opposed school integration stated, s the thing they feared then if the races integrated that there possibly would be 81 Whites across the south p romulgated the notion that interracial sex necessarily followed school integration. In an article published in fall 1956 issue The Southerner: News of the White Citizens Council c onscience and any principle left within him, support such a program of degeneracy and racial, state, and national suicide. 82 uaking Blow as the Utter Beast is Brought to the S : Anxiety over White, Cultural D egeneracy Integrated schools in Birmingham were not the only places where whites imagined and feared that contact between blacks and whites would lead to sex. Any space where the youth of both races socialized prompted anxiety among the white population. This became clear when black act ivists within the city began to pressure the municipal government to strike down ordinances, which upheld public park segregation. Locations in which young people mixed socially were deemed to be far more dangerous than those where the proposed mixed pop ulation would be older. Playgrounds, amusement parks, and especially swimming pools were off limits to race mixing. However, when the Bull Connor and the City Commission in 1961 vowed to shut down all municipal parks rather than let blacks enter, many whi tes in the city tried to work out limited integration to save spaces where adults, safely inculcated the ideology of white supremacy, socialized. White men across the city wrote to their municipal government 81 Jim Oakley, interview with Jane England, 10 May 1979, 82 Sept/Oct 1956, p. 14.
97 to oppose the closing of golf courses and museu ms, locations presumed to be safe for integration. W hite interest in black music increased in March 1956 when Ace Carter attended and soul quaking blow as the utt 83 In 1956, the North these Anti 84 In the March issue of The Southerner Asa Carter recounted the concert where he obser 85 The reactions of young, moral structure of man, of Christianity, of spirituality in Holy Marriage. . and all that 86 White men began to picket concerts of black musicians at the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium through the month Bop 87 White teenagers responded by joining the picket lines with 88 In 83 The Southerner March 1956, p. 6. 84 85 The Southerner, March 1956, p. 6. 86 The Southerner, March 1956, p. 6.. 87 Birmingham News 11 April 1956. 88 Birmingham News 11 April 1956.
98 89 While much of the national obsession with juveni le delinquency in the 195 0s centered on switch blades, vulgar language, and vandalism, the unconcealed sexuality of the working class teenage male in stovepipe jeans, the ducktail hair do, and a black leather jacket provoked near panic. 90 In Birmingham, t he fear of undisciplined young bodies became amplified and ultimately overpowering after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of school integration in 1954. At the center of the dilemma was the extent to which the young had been culturally groomed and inculca ted in the mentalit of white supremacy. 91 The older generation, ready to reassert their power, vowed to fill the streets with blood before they would hand over the mantle of maintaining racial purity to the rebellious young. 92 In an infamous incident in April 1956, Alabama native Nat King Cole came to Birmingham to perform as the headliner of a group of musicians at the Municipal Auditorium. Cole and three members in his otherwise all white company were the only African American performers of the night. Although the performers could be integrated, the audience remained segregated according to a city ordinance. Therefore, on April 10, two concerts were scheduled, one to be performed in front of a white audience of about 3,000 and one to be performed in f ront of a black audience of about the same size. 89 Christian Science Monitor 11 April 1956. 90 knives, and Pugnacity: Subcultural and Hegemonic Masculinities in South Africa, 1948 Journal of Southern African Studies 24, 753 774. 91 History and (Post) colonial relationships are maintained through sexual distance. 92 hlet), 1966, 1, Shuttlesworth Papers, Martin Luther King Center.
99 93 When he began his themselves up onto the stage over the footlights. Three made it over and threw Cole to the ground. Cole struggled with his three assailants while t he Ted Heath Orchestra, police officers dragged the three assailants off of Cole and the curtain fell. Cole was able to see a doctor and perform the second concert of the night in front of the black audience in Birmingham but then cancelled two upcoming shows to take care of his back. 94 The Birmingham police arrested six men in connection with the attack: Willie Richard Vinson, 23, E.L. Vinson, 25, Kenneth Adams, 35, S Jesse Mabry, 43, Mike Fox, 37 and Orliss Clevenger, 18. Willie Vinson and Adams were charged with assault with intent to murder, Clevenger, Fox and E.L. Vinson we re charged with conspiracy; Mabry faced charges of disorderly conduct. Petition drives began across the city to raise money for lawyers for Fox, Vinson, and Mabry who fought against 95 The fre nzy surrounding popular youth culture in Birmingham reflected a deeper and more expansive anxiety. While only the most extreme segregationists advocated 93 Chicago Daily Defender 11 April 1956, 94 Rock and Roll: Revisiting the Nat King Cole Atta Organization of American Historians Magazine of History 24, Issue 2 April 2010; 21 24. 95 The Southerner October/September, 1956, 1.
100 racial integrat ion in shared spaces between young whites and blacks. Schools, swimming pools, parks, and playgrounds in this era were imbued not only with political meaning as territories for whites to defend but they also carried sexual meaning in the white mind. The c ertainty of interracial sex following social integration has largely been documented but rarely interrogated. 96 Young men and women across the South, it was served as evi dence that the racial and sexual prescription were endangered by their teen aged children. In Birmingham throughout the 195 0s the fears concerning the preservation of white identity combined with anxieties over the loosening sexual and racial morality of the American teenager. The older generation of men, unsettled by the challenges of the post war urban South, fused the problems of integration and teenage deviance to reassert their gender power. Avowing to protect his childre n and his race, the Birmingham man worked hard to discipline and control both. Bombingham Schools and parks, where young children interacted, were not the only contested public spaces in Birmingham. The fight against neighborhood integration became the mo On September 20, 1963, John J. Drew, manager of the home insurance company Alex and Co, closed his home insurance operations in Birmingham. Alex and Co. had been 96 144, 129.
101 black residents. 97 Between 1956 and 1962, whites bombed twenty African American homes and local churches. The targeted homes fell within two racially changing neighborhoods: North Smithfield and Fountain Heights. Since 1949, when federal courts struck down the segregation ordinances on American residents began to move into College Hills (what came to be known as Dynamite Hill) in North Smithfield and then, to Fountain Heights. 98 Still, African Ame ricans continued to move into previously all white neighborhoods. The changing complexion of 1956, Carter addressed the issue when he asked his readers how they would feel if were suddenly confronted with the fact that negroes were moving in next door to you? . Our enemies have declared themselves and let every white man who is concerned of his children take note of them and as they make their moves today in real estate; 99 A few months later, in February of 1957, a group of Smithfield property owners to divide the white 97 Letter from John J. Drew to Burke Marshall, 20 September 1963, Burke Marshall Papers, Collection 256, Box 2, File 8, BPLAD. 98 Time Magazine 15, December 15 1958. 99 The Southerner September/October 195 6, 16. In the May 1956 Issue, The Southerner published a neighborhood of the white workers in Detroit. Little White girls, playing on the sidewalks are subj ected to 1956, when the home of a black dentist, Dr. Nixon, was bombed.
102 presented a petition signed by 500 residents. Walker asked that the City Commission take the petition to the Birmingham Real Estate Board to ask for its cooperation in the sale of houses in the area. Mayor James Morgan informed Walker that the city's segregation ordinances were under permanent injunction from Federal Courts and that stiff penalties are provided for violation, but Commissioner J.T. Waggo ner and Commissioner Robert E. Lindbergh promised to "explore all possible routes" to aid the 100 In the fifteen months that followed, white supremacists bombed eleven homes in Smithfield and Fountain Heights without prosecution. 101 Drive by shootings and other forms of vandalism also characterized the experiences of black families who moved into 102 In a statement con cerning the violence in his city, the newly reelected Commissioner Connor bragged, 103 extremism was not lost on anyone. A visiting reporter from the New York Times Harrison Salisbur fragmented by the emotional dynamite of racism . the distinction between state power 104 100 Birmingham Post Hera ld 12 February 1957. 101 It was not until an attempted bombing on July 17, 1957 when three Klan members attempt to bomb a Fountain Heights home. The residents chased them and beat them. Herbert E. Wilcutt, Ellis Lee, and Cranford Neal escaped but then went to the Emergency Room for wounds and the police arrested them. 102 Glennon Threat, interview with Kimberly Hill, 16 June 2005, Southern Oral History Program at University of North Carolina, http://sohp.unc.edu/ College Hills in North Smithfield. 103 Birmingham Post Herald 23 November 1960. 104 New York Times, 12 Apr il 1960.
103 Cultural Cleanliness: Highlands United Methodist Men The fight for se and the Smithfield property owners took place higher up Red Mountain, as well. Many vocal well to do segregationists could be found every Sunday morning at Highlands Methodist, a beautiful, Spanish Baroque sanctuary in the richest corner of town which Birmingham, The Methodist La sexual morality and the role of the father to protect his children in their propaganda to cajole whites to resist integration. The MLU brought together the wealthiest and most powerful men in Birmingham In 1959, the Union held a meeting at Highlands Methodist Church to outline the perils of integration. On March 19, over 1800 white Alabamians crowded into the handsome sanctuary to listen to the message of the newly formed segregationist group. Although were under the direction of southern bishops and, therefore, could remain segregat ed. However, the 1960 Methodist Conference threatened to reorganize the church to make elections of church leaders national rather than by jurisdiction, a move that would result in southern churches under the thumb of northern bishops, a sure recipe for in tegration. laymen in a concentrated campaign to oppose the threat of integration. The previous year, in 1958, the church played host to lieutenant governor Albert Boutwell on his tour to rally support for the Pupil Placement Act to duck school integration. On the evening
104 the overcrowded sanctuary. The committee chairmen of the Union included industr ialists state legislator Lawrence Dumas, and soon to be City Councilmember crowd while Circuit Judge Whit Windham, discussed the perils inherent in the practical application of ceremonies 105 no hatred for blacks, Uni progress of his fami Windham reviewed elevated levels of illegitimacy and venereal diseases in the black they attempt to select m 105 8, File 1, BPLAD.
105 blackness. 106 Segregation ists in the 1950s appropriated the language and intentions of white culture ideas which nevertheless supported ideas about the moral inferiority of black southerners. Co nclusion Integration in parks, concerts halls, schools, pools, and churches elicited acute reactions from the white community because these spaces were the realm of the young. 107 Whites in Birmingham conflated disciplining young bodies with the policing of racial borders in the name of protecting young, white women and ultimately the purity of the race. White women, therefore, stood as the symbols of racial power while white men remained in possession of both racial and gender power. Birmingham, after Brown 108 The social, political and cultural landscape of the cit y was transformed in the previous decade Rural Alabamians moved into the urban core, women went farther in school than their male counte rparts and joined the workforce in record numbers, young men and women rebelled against the traditi ons and mores of their parents and job security for many men grew tenuous with the dispersal of the national labor organizations and the mechanization of the mines. After Brown the fight for segregation became the salve for hrough the white res istance white men 106 These ideas circulated outside of Highlands Methodist. In 1962, a citizen in Birmingham advocated the forced sterilization of blac questions integration and preserve the prestige of white skin, Letter to Commissioner Hanes from anonymous, 16 December 1962, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box 1, File 38, BPLAD. 107 108
106 were able to insulate their roles as workers, as protective husbands and fathers, and as southern men by asserting themselves atop an artificial hierarchy. As many working men could no longer claim the role of patriarch, they turned to m assive resistance. The men of the South, according to Asa o f their children. 109 As the tumult of the post war era dislocated southern manhood; Massive Resistance grounded and redefined the obligations the white, southern man. 109 29, BPLAD
107 CHAPTER 4 In January of 1958, the Southern Institute of Management (SIM), an auditing company based out of Louisville, Kentucky, annou Club that Jefferson County would be the site of a metropolitan audit. Sponsored by Chamber of Commerce members Sidney Smyer, Joseph Johnston, and James Head, reate a better, more August 1959. The research was exhaustive. The Southern Instit ute of Management high school and professional school students, a questionnaire specifically designed to document an overall personality profile of the city. The resea rchers conducted interviews and compiled biographies examined the present state and future plans for 164 business firms, and researched the histories of 167 organized groups in the city. 1 In 1960, SIM published a prelimina ry report on their findings. The results proved 2 All segments of society, including high school and college aged citizens, felt uninspired. Distrust and inaction t ypified city residents, including the intellectuals, the artists, the civic leaders, and the students. 3 1 The Birmingham metropolitan audit: preliminary report, 1960, (Louisville: Southern Institute of Management, 1960), Report 1, 5. 2 The Birmingham metropolitan audit: preliminary report, 1960, Report 1, 18. 3 The Birmingham metropolitan audit: preliminary report, 1960, Report 1, 7.
108 dispassionate about all things. Fe ar and uncertainty animated the people and politics across Jones Valley, feelings which were manifest in an abiding faith and strict f family structures, gender and race relations, social customs, religious piety, and local politics. Accounts of private life, marriage and divorce records, church attendance, public social standards, and overall decorum 4 them from the countryside not only a deeply embedded and admirable work ethic but also the fire and brimstone of the Souther n Baptist God. 5 xenophobia along with its preoccupation with internal matters such as religiosity and prosperity or depression was linked to images of absentee owners or finance managers, instilling a sense of local non 6 As Charles Morgan s tring short stop on a third 7 The researchers concluded that the strict racial hierarchy and zealous devotion to Christian conservatism 4 The Birmingham metropolitan audit: preliminary report, 1960, Report 1, 12. 5 The Birmingham metropolitan audit: preliminary report, 1960, Report 1, 12; Birmingham is a city in 6 The Birmingham metropolitan audit: preliminary report, 1960 Report 1, 16. 7 http://www.crmvet.org/info/bham63.htm accessed 4 October 2010.
109 were among the few aspects of life in Birmingham under local white cont rol. 8 The poverty and resentment rooted in the colonial economy of the city, the audit warned, tructive tendencies. 9 economy was beginning to buckle. Between 1958 and 1961, the city lost ten percent of its jobs and business expansion grew sluggish. 10 Hard economic times had set tled in the city. 11 When the Movement and backlash in Birmingham attracted national attention, the defensive nature of local residents came to the fore in the place that Martin Luther preoccupation with southern white manhood continued to betray insecurity in the face of 12 Violence, park closures, and the ever ambitious white, male supremacist rhetoric pu nctuated the early 1960s in Birmingham. But behind Bull Connor and the many photographs and stories of racial intransigence between 1961 and 1963, wealthier whites had begun to construct an alternate response to the Movement, one which would deeply affect the historical positioning of themselves and their poorer counterparts. 8 The Birmingham metropolitan audit: preliminary report, 1960, Report 3, 16. 9 The Birmingham metropolitan audit : preliminary report, 1960 Report 4, 28. 10 Saturday Evening Post 2 March 1963,17. 11 Birmingham News 19 March 1961, 1. 12 Dabbs, Southern Heritage 164
110 Departing from the consensus around the primacy of segregation that characterized the white community in the 1950s, the beginning of the 1960s witnessed the emergence of a new type of class consciousness in Birmingham, one packaged and processed by a public relations firm to sell the image of the middle class, moderate man to national corporations. This chapter explores how class became a political plaything for politicians like Bull Connor and businessmen like Sydney Smyer, men who wanted to exploit rather than negotiate the gap between the rich and the poor between 1961 and the beginning of 1963. From this contest, a new image was born, one which separated white businessmen from the Connor and the commission form of government. 13 While Eskew carefully recounts the transition from 1961 1963 in the city, his treatment focuses on the most visible proponents of change, the business class. This, I argue, reinforces the oversimplified understanding of southern racism as som ething which could be and was encased within a certain strata of society. Vocal segregationists, coupled with claims of white collar reform, have veiled the degree to which working class men and women abandoned absolute segregation. When blue collar famil ies witnessed the closing of all public parks in 1962 and listened as public officials and neighborhood organizations rallied to shut from absolute segregation. By charting the political moves of the wealthy businessmen and lawyers in Birmingham alongside the politics of its workers, this chapter 13 Eskew, But for Birmingham, Chapter 5.
111 demonstrates that businessmen effectuated their reform through the compliance and ddition, I argue that the gentlemanly image of the white collar moderate, a calculated construction, simultaneously cloaked the racial advantages which money preserved for those who professed moderation and collared men. This chapter highlights the rupture between southern, white men both within and between classes and demonstrates that gender, specifically masculinity, a source of cohesion in the 1950s, fueled social fragmentation by the beginning of the 1960s. In recounting the narrative of Birmingham during this time period, historians have focused on three groups: vocal white segregationists (including the city commission), black a ctivists, and mostly young, white business leaders who began to push for a middle ground in 1961. Comprised of men who lived over the mountain but worked in the city, this third group has garnered all of the scholarly attention given to white moderates dur ing the civil rights movement era in Birmingham. Associations such as been the primary focus for scholarly examinations into the moderating forces in Birmingham because they were integral to the changing politics within the city. 14 The existence of an organized, politically effective, and racially moderate, middle class was 14 Eskew, But for Birmingham ; Neil R. McMillen The Citizens' Council: Organized Resistance to the Second Reconstruction, 1954 64 Journal of American History 81 (1994): 81 118; Dan Carter, The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism and the Transformation of American Politics, (Louisiana State University Press, 1995); Glenn Feldman and Patricia Sullivan, Before Brown: Civil Rights and White Backlash in t he Modern South (Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2004); J. Mills Thornton, Dividing Lines ; William A.Nunnely, Bull Connor, (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991).
112 new in Birmingham, but full integration and social equality were not fundamental to the middle class ideology advocated interracial communication and token integration on behalf of the bottom line. Business leaders believed that the closed parks and brutality for which Birmingham was fast becoming famous would have a dwindling effect on local industries and keep 15 Suburban businessmen organized the campaign to finally rid Birmingham of th e city commission form of government and its most notorious commissioner, Bull Connor. Consequently, it has been this segment of society studied and credited with the emergent disjuncture in white attitudes concerning segregation. How ever, the white, worki ng class within Birmingham are consistently overlooked in the historiography of this time period, subsumed under the category o f class men the fringe has always spoken for the whole. A In May of 1961, Sydney Smyer Sr., the incoming chairman of the Chamber of Commerce flew to Tokyo along with a small group of local businessmen to represent Birmingham at an International Rotary convention. On May 15, in the company of the of the Tokyo newspapers. The international newswire transmitted pictures and stories Freedom Riders disembarked in 15 BPLAD.
113 Boynton v. Virginia, which outlawed segregation in interstate bus and rail stations, a small group of civil rights activists boarded interstate b uses in the late spring of 1961 and rode along a planned route from Washington D.C. through the South. The volunteer students from Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) travelled safely from the Washington to Charlotte, but met resistance upon entering the D eep South. Outside of Birmingham, in Anniston, Alabama, white supremacists firebombed one of the public busses carrying the volunteers; when the riders came into Birmingham, about ten Klansmen waited for the young group to walk off of the bus. Armed with l ead pipes, chains, baseball bats and a guaranteed fifteen minute window to do as they please Thomas Langston, a photographer from the Birmingham Post Herald, captured on film the barbarity of the white mob, as well as the satisfied expressions of the onlookers. 16 Born in Cherokee County, Alabama in 1897 and raised in Birmingham, Sidney steel mills to earn his way through college. After receiving his law degree from the Universit y of Alabama and serving in World War I, Smyer returned to Birmingham to begin his career as an attorney. Over the next fifty years, his unswerving focus on the bottom line influenced the physical, economic, and political development of his 16 David Vann, interview, 2 February 1995, BCRI. The accounts of the arrival of the Freedom Riders Freedom Riders: 1961 and The Struggle for Racial Justice n went back and listened to the police tapes which called for help in the station. In addition, Gary Thomas Rowe, an FBI informant for the Klan, when interviewed, reported that Chief of Police Jamie Moore promised the Klan a window of time to have their wa y with the Riders.
114 hometown. Alon g with his brothers and uncles, Smyer built a stately residence along the crest of Red Mountain. The Smyer family interwove white supremacy into their religious and political practices alongside other Big Mules who lived above the city. rtered Highlands Methodist Church, the meeting place of consistently supported Governor Fran k Dixon and the big mule/black belt coalition. In Realty Company, which owned almost the entire downtown. In 1942, he was elected vice president, p resident in 1953 and became t he chairman of the board of this powerful company in 1967. To extend his power from realty to the service industry, Smyer chartered the Jefferson County Planning Commission in 1947. By the early 1960s, he held sway over the economic affairs of the city and his future was bound to that of 17 Just four days after the Freedom Riders arrived in Birmingham, CBS reporter Howard K. Smith interviewed the men and women of Birmingham in a one hour special 18 The broadcast documented both white and black sentiments across the city. CBS and Smith wanted to Birmingham by letting some of the people of the community speak of and for their city because of the hotly contested New York Times article by journalist Harrison Salisbury 19 17 18 19
115 Jim Crow began to give, before the closed parks, the dogs and fire hoses, before the Sixteenth Street Church bombing. This was a moment in which both the segregationist and integrationist vision for the South remained possible. Although Bull Connor decline d to meet with CBS, many white men and women took advantage of the opportunity to explain race in Birmingham to America, a nation very much interested since the photographs of the Freedom Riders in the Trailways terminal. The program aired on Thursday, Ma format was simple. They traveled around Birmingham interviewing a range of its citizens and all of the men bristled at the pro spect of racial integration. Although their stations in life were vastly different, the white men interviewed defended the white supremacist South. John Temple Graves, the editor of the Birmingham Post Herald, acknowledged 20 Grave s argued that the South However, if it occurred in Birmingham, the national 21 Times there was no such thing. 22 At torney and white supremacist Hugh Locke argued similarly 20 21 22
116 Those in Birmingham who maintained that the Nor penchant for violence argued alongside local residents who suggested that desegregation should not progress lest the poor men of the region commit terrible violence. In his famous study of the South, The Southern Heritage James M cBride Dabbs argued that middle and upper class whites employed this argument to duck that the present opposition to desegregation often comes from well placed secure white e lines for violence and 23 have no doubt that the Negro basically knows that the be 24 Consistently, white residents failed to confront the issue of racial equality. Instead, ire toward the North, faith in the deterring power of white violence, and widespread ignorance regarding the resolve of nger blame the North for their 23 Dabbs, Southern Heritage 112 114. 24
117 problems nor claim ignorance pertaining to the will and determination of the local African American community. The Klan attacks on the Freedom Riders in Birmingham affected the city in two important ways. Among blacks, the ri des sparked greater interest in the Movement. The news coverage demonstrated that the rest of the nation was watching the South, even if the local whites appeared to be unmoved. 25 For white businessmen, the brutality of their citizens and the suspected coop eration of their police force created a dark national image with which they knew that they would have to contend if they wanted to keep making money in Birmingham. Both David Vann, later mayor of Birmingham, and dle class moderation began as a response to the national outrage following the violence in the Trailways terminal on 26 the Klan. Instead, locals blamed the melee on outside a gitators and the resentment towards the federal government boiled over to push two avowed segregationists ahead in the race for the City Commission. l extremists to the City Commission. In 1961, citizens of the Birmingham departed from tradition and selected three outspoken segregationists to govern the city. Arthur Hanes, J.T. "Jabo" Waggoner, and Bull Connor each ran on the shared platform of racial 27 Their supporters urged Birmingham to elect as its leaders 25 Lillian Douglass, interview with Horace Huntley, 18 June 1998, BCRI. 26 Vann, interview, BCRI. 27 Vann, interview, BCRI.
118 men who will stand staunchly and unswervingly on the side of complete separation of 28 Running against moderates Tom King and Earl Bruner, Hanes and Waggoner won majorities in only some working class districts. The poorer neighborhoods of East Lake, Woodlawn, and the steelworkers of Ensley voted for the segregationists. Whereas King and Bruner won the non craft working class districts of American Cast Iron Pip e Company (APIPCO), Stockham Valves Company, and Tennessee Coal and Iron and Railroad Company (TCI), along with the African American neighborhood near Legion Field. 29 Social class did not serve as a strict determinant in en as Connor garnered much of his electoral strength from many working class neighborhoods, his campaign in 1961 was funded largely by businessmen in and out of the city. Jim Simpson TCI lawyer, former state senator, and olitical funds from men across Jefferson County. Many of these funds were collected at the elite and prestigious Mountain Brook Country 30 As for Connor, the unions and the industrialists outwardly supported his candidacy. According to the Birmingham banker and member of the Y MBC, Charles Zukowski, even the Birmingham News, which Connor had consistently attacked, 31 While Connor was well known, Hanes and Waggoner were relatively new to highly regarded. Duard Lagrand, 28 29 Birmingham Post Herald, 3 May 1961 and 31 May 1961. 30 31 Ni
119 editor of the Birmingham Post Herald, believed that Hanes was elected partly because of his ties to ministers, Arthur Hanes was a wealthy attorney with a son at Princeton. The affluent in Birmingham found Hanes to be an attractive candidate and, with their financial support, he led i 32 the mountain elite believe that this was their chance to control the direction of the ci 33 34 Hanes organized the Committee to Keep Birmingham White, a group which p ublished a pamphlet, The Negro Bloc Vote and Your Future in which Hanes declared that he would staunchly oppose integration. 35 The committee also circulated a photograph of his opponent, Thomas King, shaking hands with an unidentified black man with the cap 36 Once Connor 37 Hanes won a landslide victory, garnering votes in the working class districts and carrying the affluent neighborhoods along Highland Avenue. 38 32 33 uard Lagrand. 34 35 36 on 269, Box 5, File 10, BPLAD. 37 38 Birmingham Post Herald 31 May 1961.
120 But the May 1961 election would be the last time that Waggoner, Hanes, and Connor won in Birmingham. In the fol longer rallied behind an unswerving stand on segregation. In Birmingham, as in much of the urban South, working class whites realized that their children would be the ones to shoulder the weight of integrat ion. By 1962, after Connor, Hanes, and Waggoner closed down all of the public parks, working whites understood that they and their children could also be the victims of white intransigence. Class Modera tion On March 1, 1960, a small group of African American students from Miles and Daniel Payne colleges staged a quiet sit in at Kelly Ingram Park to protest racial ins in Greensboro, North Car 39 Reluctant to let the protest continue, the Birmingha m Police entered the park, arresting fourteen of the students and taking them to the police station. 40 Although the fourteen were never charged with a crime, the Birmingham News published their names and addresses that evening in an article detailing the p rotests and arrests. One week later, eight local Klansmen carrying iron pipes, clubs, and blackjacks walked into the home of Miles College student and protester, Robert Jones. Once inside, the eight men began to beat Jones, his mother, and his sister. Mat tie Mae Jones, his mother, was hospitalized from the vicious beating. The following 39 New York Times, 1 March 1960, 20. 40 New York Ti mes, 1 March 1960, 20.
121 information from her, she recognized them as her assailants from the previous evening. 41 Nobody was charged with the crime. Ten more students staged sit ins in the downtown lunch counters on March 31. They, too, were arrested, along with Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Reverend Charles Billups, and charged with breaching the peace. They we re sentenced to six months in prison. The park and lunch counter protests closely followed an old pattern in which peaceful black protest evoked a violent response from local whites determined to maintain racial segregation and white supremacy. But by the fall of 1961, violence was 42 On October 24, 1961, Federal District Court Judge Hobart Grooms ruled that the municipal parks in Birmingham could no longer remain racially segregated. His decision, which affected all municipal public 43 Judge Grooms, in his order, noted: grant the relief 44 The reaction was immediate. The day after the decision, Commissioner 41 Eskew, But For Birmingham ,148 49. 42 43 Birmingham News 25 October 1961. 44 City Facing Big Decision Birmingham News 25 October 1961.
122 45 46 When Shuttlesworth and other leaders in the black community requested a meeting with Hanes, the Mayor as sured his 47 down the ruli ng, the battle lines in Birmingham appeared to be clear, black versus white, segregation at all costs. But many whites in Birmingham refused to follow their commissioners into this battle. For businessmen, closed parks and racial turmoil were bad for busin ess. As Smyer quickly noted, Little Rock, Arkansas had not welcomed any new industry since 1957, when the National Guard had to be brought in to defend four young African Americans on their first day at Little Rock Central High School. 48 Closed parks, swim ming pools, baseball diamonds, and abandoned playgroun ds affected the working class in Birmingham differently; while the wealthier families could take their children to private country clubs and open parks in suburbia, the children of the working class in Birmingham would be confined to the home and streets. On December 11, Mayor Hanes held an open house meeting concerning the fate public recreation, laid off park employe es, and planned to shut down the parks in 45 Birmingham News, 26 October 1961. 46 47 Birmingham News, 19 December 1961, 1. 48 Wall Street Journal 26 May 1961.
123 public facilities affected sixty seven parks and playgrounds, eleven community centers, twenty three soft ball diamonds, twenty two ba seball diamonds, twenty six football fields, sixty two tennis courts, four golf courses, six swimming pools, the Municipal Auditorium and, potentially, the Jimmy Morgan Zoo, public libraries and museums. class men attend ed to fight over the parks. Plugging into the discourse that resistance spelled a manly vigor, one man shouted that 49 However, the majority of men who voiced their opinion at the meeting opposed the decision. Class interests animated the debate in interesting ways. Those who spoke out against the city commission understood the park closures as a burden which only the working class of Birmingham would be forced to endure. One man asked Hanes not to clo se the parks, send your children to private schools but I, and most people in Birmingham, do 50 not going to cave in and surrender, Honor, Pride, Fight S 49 1961, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box 15, File 1, BPLAD. 50 269, Box 5, File 1, BPLAD.
124 Hanes just days before the meeting. 51 Another letter to Connor exemplified the depth of come at gunpoint or 52 When a Birmingham Post reporter asked a soft 53 54 Seconding the notion s. Thomas Elliot wrote to 55 Other whites did not see the boarded up parks and threats of violence as expressions of southern, manly courage. In a letter to the City Commission a local 56 celebrate youth and then close the parks is like biting off our noses to spite our face. It 57 One 51 Letter to Hanes from Dr. Edward Fields, 12 December 1961, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box 5, File 1, BPLAD. 52 Letter to Hanes from Franklin B. McMahan, 20 January 1962, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box 5, File 16, BPLAD. 53 Saturday Evening Post 2 March 1963, 17. 54 W.H. Gregory to Connor, 17 January 1962, Connor Papers, Collection 265, Box 10, File 2, BPLAD. 55 Mrs. Thomas Elliot to Connor, 10 January 1962, Connor Papers, Collection 265, Box 10, File 2, BPLAD. 56 Albert Poole to City Commission, 2 April 1962, Connor Papers, Collection 265, Box 3, File 10, BPLAD. 57 Dr. Reverend Collins to Hanes, 5 April 1962, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box 5, File 6, BPLAD.
125 of towners. You are leading witch hunts. I am white. I am a voter. I have children and I would not miss the next 58 see yourself as the majority sees you now. There is regret, unrest and shame among 59 60 of southern masculinity, Reverend Shuttlesworth wrote to Connor th at he had become 61 full page advertisement in the Birmingham News 62 The article insisted that a city without public recreation will not only decline economically but also witness an increase in juvenile delinquency. 63 City commissioners instantly remarked that a great many of the signatures on the advertisement came from the pen of men who lived over the mountain in unincorporated suburbs, middle and upper class men whose children would not face r acial integration. Connor easily concluded that the people living above Birmingham would let the working class, city dwellers carry the 58 Anonymous to Hanes, 15 April 1962, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box 5, File 6, BPLAD. 59 Laura Reynolds to Hanes, 5 April 1962, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box 5, File 46, BPLAD. 60 Travis Wolfe to Waggoner, 9 December 1962, Waggoner Papers, Collection 346, Box 7, File 10, BPLAD. 61 Shuttlesworth to Connor, no date, Connor Papers, Collection 265, Box 7, File 4, BPLAD. 62 63
126 burden of integration while the rich men in Homewood and Vestavia Hills could comfortably assess the bottom line. 64 Usin g class as a cleaver, Connor attempted to rally working class support for the closed parks. It did not work. In the same month that Birmingham Post Herald park closures. In a city full of working class men and women, the vast majority of respondents (71 percent) requested that the parks be integrated rather than closed, the exception being public pools. 65 While middle and upper class white men from above the city demanded economy, those people who lived in the city were more interested in th e daily lives of their children. Most of those polled, almost three fourths, decided that they would rather have integrated parks than closed parks. Still, the rhetorical battle regarding the park closures reflected the traditional lines of class tensions between Birmingham whites. Common sense, economic consideration and moderation sought to trump vociferous appeals to tradition, local sovereignty, and proud resistance. Class and gender coded language obscured the lines of battle. Rhetorically, the debate was classed and billed as a culture war between men collared in white and those in blue. The advocates for closed parks insisted that the working people of Birmingham should not cow to the men nce to the park closures came from those same working men and women who lived in the city and wanted public 64 Birmingham News 30 January 1962. 65 Birmingham Post Herald 28 January 1962.
127 spaces for their children, noting that they did not have the money to join the country club. The classed and gendered language that characterized th e battle over out of office. In his fight to save his political life, Connor worked to besmirch the intentions of the suburban business interests to play on the resentments of the lower class in Birmingham. Race and class were his political stand bys, but by 1962 they were no longer enough. A Time grimy post 66 67 School integration, scheduled to begin in the fall, forced parents to contemplate the prospect o f closed schools to accompany the chained and boarded parks and playgrounds. While the Freedom Rides awakened the business community to the need for political reform, working families in the valley began to reevaluate their devotion to absolute segregatio n as they walked past empty pools and abandoned parks. For the first time since the 1954 Brown white residents engaged in a public debate concerning the importance of segregation 68 In February 1961, Sydney Smyer wrote to Walter M ms, president of the Birmingham Bar Association, to request an investigation into the possibility of changing 66 Time 4 May 1962. 67 Time 4 May 1962. 68 Time 4 May 1962.
128 the City Commission form of government in the city. Exactly one month later, Mims appointed a 15 member committee to look into the process and advisability of a new form of government. By April 5, 1961, the committee held their first meeting to discuss and explore the option of changing the city governm ent. In the ensuing sixty days, Bull Connor swept the election for Public Safety Commissioner, the Freedom Riders arrived and were violently and publicly beaten with the cooperation from Com missioner orce and in the harried aftermath, Birmingham residents elected ngham should have a form of government which will result 69 Birmingham was the only city of its size left in the South with a three man commission as its municipal government. On October 20, the fifteen member committee m et and voted, with only one exception, for a new form of government a mayor council form in Birmingham. By February of 1962, When the Chamber of Commerce conducted an open response survey, the majority of city residents penciled form of government. 70 Sensing the dissatisfaction in the city, Connor, Hanes, and Waggoner issued a long public pronouncement declar ing that Birmingham will never y ield to the federal government for us to bow to the Supreme Court. . Do not bend your neck and kiss the hand of the 69 70
129 71 Locating southern manhood in its oppo sition to the federal government did not dissuade city residents from registering their concerns with the commissioners in the local survey, a remarkable departure from the previous year after the Freedom Rides. In March 1962, Commissioner Connor and the c ity commission, in an effort to demonstrate that they were willing to quell any and all black activism, exploded any semblance of American students to force downtown stores to hire blacks clerks, desegregate their facilities, and to pressure the municipal government to give civil service jobs to qualified African poor and hungry families, publicly ex true frie nds and benefactors are. Over 90 percent of recipients are Negroes. Let Core 72 In the many letters written to the city commissioners, only three wrote in support of the decision t o keep food from hungry families. The majority of 73 An article in the New York Times entitled, helpless for acts o 74 The termination of the surplus food program propelled the change of government committee to press forward 71 1962, Hanes Pape rs, Collection 269, Box 5, File 14. 72 73 Roy Wilkins to Hanes, 7 April 1962, Hanes Papers, Collection 269, Box, 5, File 46, BPLAD. 74 New York Times 1 April 1962.
130 In July, attorney David Vann, realtor Smyer, and attorney Abraham Berkowitz began to work on preparing a new form of government by the May election in 1963. Vann, who worked as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black duri ng the 1954 Brown businessmen that the commission form of government in the city would accelerate white flight, leaving the politics of the city in the hands of the remaining black population. 75 (YMBC) of Birmingham, a group of young executives, lawyers, newspapermen, engineers, architects, and merchants. The Club was established in the 195 0s as a means to b uild a network among young businessmen who would meet every Monday to discuss city development and politics. By the 1960s, as the racial climate had a politics. 76 Hiring a public relations firm, the YMBC promoted the idea of a new form of government through fundraising dinners, television ads, bumper stickers, stationary, campaign cards, lapel pins, newspaper ads, billboards, and direct mail. 77 The firm selected a bell as cording the PR firm and played on the idea of church bells in Birmingha m, the city of churches. The YMBC argued that the symbol and the 75 Birmingham Post Herald 27 October 1962. 76 Charles Morgan, A Time to Speak, (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), 9. 77 B PLAD.
131 78 The group pushed and professionally crafted a new type of man, one focused on restraint and Christian goodness. Separating t hemselves from the traditional and rural South, the members of the YMBC understood themselves to represent a modern, more enlightened and rational South. In July, Dave Campbell, a Birmingham talk show host, suggested to Vann that the YMBC needed to move o n the idea as soon as possible. Vann telephoned Berkowitz and scheduled a meeting for the following day between the Executive Committee of Birmingham Labor Council. Vann, realizing th regular people, incorporated Stafford in the planning phase of the petition. In order to change the government, Vann told his associates, they needed both business and working men. At the meeting, Stafford encou raged the business leaders to join with 79 Before leaving the meeting, the group decided that they needed twenty five respected businessmen to head up the petition to get the vote on the ballot. Those gathered planned to contact the twenty five and meet the next day. When they returned the following day, every one of the twenty five businessmen refused to support put their name on a petition to oust the city commission. They offered money but were afraid to 78 BPLAD. 79 Vann, interview, BCRI.
132 publicly oppose against Connor. 80 81 Vann, Smyer, Berkowitz, and Stafford set out workers and small businessmen. 82 petition to give the people of Birmingham the right to decide for themselves what form of Birmingham News and Birmingham Post Herald and informed about their plans, but requested that they not publish anything until they gathered the signatures By Sunday morning, signatures in hand, both papers published front Citizens for Progress (BCP), five hundred strong. Within hours, the group became inundated with phone calls from around the city, in cluding people from Kennedy for President Campaign, the Nixon for President Campaign, the labor unions, and the 83 To put the option of a changed form of municipal government on the ballot, th e Citizens for Progress needed 7,500 signatures. They got 12,000 in one day without going near the African l problems as we could, Vann remembered. He would not even call a black person on the phone 84 In an effort to block the petition, the 80 Vann, interview, BCRI. 81 Christopher MacGregor Scribner Renewing Birmingham: Federal Funding and the Promise of Change, 1929 1979 (Athens: University of Georgia, 2002); 113. 82 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham, 113. 83 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham 114. 84 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham 114.
133 from city workers who requested that their names be removed from the petition for fear that the commissioners would strip them of their job. 85 could choose a city commission, a mayor council, or a city manager form of government The BCP supported the mayor council. On November 6, 1962, voters in government. By the evening, Birmingham citizens learned that George Wallace would nd that they would have a mayor council form of mostly white, and mostly working class. On November 6, 1962, after almost a year of closed parks and unrestrained violence, B irmingham voted 52 percent to 45.5 percent for a new form of government. 86 More than any other g roup, African Americans affected the outcome of the election Since the 1961 election when Bull Connor won his most decisive political victory, more African Amer icans had registered to vote and therefore held a greater sway over the percentages. Working cl ass whites also affected the outcome. Connor lost some of his lower class precincts in the 1962 referendum. His hometown, lower class neighborhood of Woodlawn (w hich he carried in 1957 and 1961), voted in 1962 to turn him. 87 Vann touted the victory as an achievement of the middle class which was 85 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham 114. 86 Birmingham News, 6 November 1962. 87 Eskew, But for Birmingham 188.
134 have lost the fear of personal attack. We are learning to be men and our newfound 88 W ith a budding virility, the new southern businessmen presented the city with a new man, one dressed in a suit with progress and moderati on in mind. There is little doubt that these men, regardless of the underlying rationale, helped to facilitate racial progress in Birmingham. The business class presence in the public eye and in the public record extended beyond Birmingham. 89 However, the w idespread attention garnered by and given to the middle shift among working class whites who had gone to the polls and voted to move beyond their ugly past. The resolve of Birm off mayoral election. Three candidates competed: Bull Connor, Senator Albert Boutwell, a professed moderate, and Thomas King, the most liberal choice on the ticket. Boutwell communicated calm and r espect for the law, but he was not interested in racial equality. He had been a part of the conservative legal and business community which espoused 90 Boutwell, along with Birming Brown. 91 biggest and most public adv ocate of the Freedom of Choice Plan, making over 100 88 89 Wall Street Journal 12 March 1962. 90 Birmingham Post Herald, 2 July 1954. 91 Birmingham Post Herald 2 July 1954.
135 speeches to push for a plan which would effectively duck school integration. By 1963, Birmingham News article which followed the first round of voting on March 6, 1963. The returns placed Boutwell eight percent points ahead of Connor while King did not garner enough votes to remain in the race. The News articl Birmingham is an image of a people who speak for us. The words of our leaders are rough, hard, and inflame passions. The strong margin of Boutwell over Connor means people want dignity and thoughtful responsibility i 92 On March 12, Boutwell and Connor kicked off their head to head election by sitting down to an arm wrestling match. Boutwell, a tall, elegant man in a pressed white shirt clasped hands with Connor, a stout man with thick, black rimm ed glasses in a short sleeve white shirt as the press looked on and snapped photographs. Although the winner was not reported, the picture of the two men appeared on the cover of the Birmingham News to announce the ensuing battle in Birmingham. For the nex t two White, southern manhood appeared to be at stake in the election and both Connor and Boutwell fought for both the votes of southern, white men as well as the meanings b ehind southern manhood. Born in 1904, Albert Boutwell was raised in Greenville, Alabama and attended University of Alabama, earning his law degree in 1928. Boutwell practiced law in Birmingham from 1928 1946, when he was elected to the state senate where he served 92 Birmingham News 5 March 1963.
136 three terms. During his last term, Boutwell served as Chairman of the Interim Legislative Committee on Segregation in the Public Schools. In 1958, Alabama voters elected Boutwell to be Lieutenant Governor under John Patterson. In 1962, when Boutw ell segregation helped to win support from whites who believed in white supremacy, but 93 Southern tradition and white women comprised the ideolog ical core of Bull fight, even if you know you will lose . when Bull was cornered, he came out 94 In an apt description of his opponent, Connor declared that his opponent was 95 Using vote of the 96 Alongside 97 The traditional gender roles espoused by Connor were not enough to secure hi s re 93 Biography of Boutwell, Alabama Department of Archives Website, http://www.birminghamarchi ves.org/CivilRightsBirmingham2.htm accessed 12 December 2011. 94 95 96 1, BPLAD. 97
137 98 On April 2, the Birmingham News ived 29,630 votes won boxes in Shades Valley, the Highland Avenue district, and the black boxes. He also carried the silk stocking district on the Southside, two of the five districts in working class East Lake, three of the four boxes in working class Woo dlawn, and all of the working class districts of Pratt City, Stockham Valves, and ACIPCO. Connor carried the lower, middle class votes of West End and a few of the working class boxes in East Lake and one in Woodlawn, ending the election with 21,648 votes. 99 The majority of the working class in Birmingham had crossed over from the 1961 election to the election of 1963. Public officials such as Connor appealed to their working class constituency by couching segregation in notions of tradition, southern honor and the duty of working people annexed and lily Business Club (YMBC), pushed for open parks, racial moderat ion, and an end to the and the rhetoric and the class encasements touted by both Connor and the YMBC. Many poor and working reporter philosophy towards integration and publicly fought for open, integrated parks and the expulsion of Bull Connor. 98 Birmingham News 2 April 1963. 99 Birmingham News 3 April 1963.
138 Conclusion In Birmingham, Alabama, between 1960 and 1961, the model of white, southern masculinity so pr evalen t in the mid to late 1950 s, splintered. A smarter, calmer, more reasonable man challenged the stubborn southerner who vowed to fight and kill for the preservation of segregation and the protection of his way of life. While some, indeed s whites began the 196 0s usurpation of state and local power, white opposition to the racial extremism of by the winter of 1961. Closed parks, city wi de boycotts, lost economic opportunities, national condemnation, and deep injustices stacked the mounting cost of Jim Crow upon both sides of the color line. Propagating and shouldering many of these burdens in Birmingham became the sine qua non of white southern manhood as the civil rights movement settled in the city. Acknowledging the power of the gendered implications embedded in racial extremism, white moderates were forced to subvert the definition of what it meant to be a white, southern man. The ascension of the middle class moderate, while important to the dissolution of the Big Mule consensus, has overshadowed his calculated complicity in the racial order up until 1963 and has fixed our understanding of lower class whites in the civil rights er a as bigoted and ignorant men.
139 CHAPTER 5 what they are, we 1 ance concerning blacks, African unctioned in 2 But when the black man 3 in the South when he much of what made the region sacred to white men. 4 In the 1950s and early 1960s, the e. In Birmingham, the movement came in 1963, and with it, the crisis. In recent years, Timothy Tyson, Steve Estes, and Danielle McGuire have argued for the centrality of black manhood in the southern freedom struggle. 5 The utility of gender analysis has en couraged an examination into the importance and function of African American masculinity in the Movement, but the assertion that black manhood 1 Dabbs, Southern Heritage 71. 2 Baldwin, The Fire Next Time 11. 3 Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, 11 4 Dabbs, Southern Heritage 164 5 Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (New York: Alfr ed A. Knopf, 2010); Estes I Am a Man! Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005); Timothy B.Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power, (Chapel Hill: University of No rth Carolina, 1999).
140 was an essential aspect of the Struggle was and remains obvious. The dependence of southern, white masculinity on black inferiority in the first half of the twentieth century is no less obvious; southerners and southern historians readily acknowledge that the meanings implied by southern racism have been dialogically constructed. Baldwin knew this is 1962 when he con 6 self when he postulated that the ultimate goal of the Struggle was not legal, economic, or political p the franchise existed as the demonstrative features of this primary goal. 7 In response to local and federal pressure, white men in Birmingham relinquished many of the accoutrements o f superiority, such as all white dining halls, department store fitting rooms, and schools. Still, throughout the 1960s, whites in the valley and over the mountain held fast to the notion of white, male superiority. White men of varying social classes expr essed their devotion to racial supremacy differently. Among the working classes, public and private letters, neighborhood associations, and street rallies characterized the most tangible form of protest against school and neighborhood integration. Middle c lass whites and self proclaimed business moderates expressed their fealty to white supremacy through token integration, false promises of change, and a growing anxiety about the perceived racial and gendered ambiguity in young, white 6 Baldwin, The Fire Next Time 11 7 Dabbs, Southern Heritage 164
141 worked diligently through the year to placate the local black community in order to manage their image and that of the city. language of backlash in Birmingham. The ascent of the business class moderate and the attendant images of a more respectable and fair minded southern man fused class with racial se ntiment. However, Boutwell and men around him did not challenge nor complicate the underlying assumptions of white, male privilege; they only fastened freshly starched, white collars on old southern prerogatives. Recounting the turmoil and violence of 1963 this chapter demonstrates that the growing influence of black political power in Birmingham unmasked white respectability in the city. Massive demonstrations intensified white fears about the increasing power of the black community and school desegregat ion brought with it a renewed sense of urgency to vilify black men, protect white women, and steer young, white men into the fold of a socially conservative and racially intolerant white, southern mindset. The first portion of this chapter details the dem onstrations in Birmingham and the forced negotiations between the black movement leaders and the white business hand accounts of the negotiations, and newspaper artic les which describe the eventual received undue credit in bringing racial peace to the city. The outside press lauded the South, publicly and for the record erasing their complicity in the racial order. 8 However, 8 Wall Street Journal, 16 May 1963.
142 the architects of the organized boycotts and protests across Birmingham in 1963 directed pressure on the business class, not the b lue collars nor the politicians. That the businessmen relented is not a testament to their moderate racial views, but rather evidence that they felt enough financial pressure to seek compromise. It took Boutwell, lmost five weeks to begin discussions with the black leaders. Ultimately, what is most revealing is the fact that white moderate businessmen never made good on their promises. 9 As soon as King called off the demonstrations, the urgency to meet the demands disappeared. 10 In response to the growing assertiveness of the black community, Birmingham endured its most frenzied year of white on black violence under his watch. In 1963, whites bombed A frican American homes, businesses, and churches. Rather than urging peace across the valley, Boutwell stoked the fight against school integration, refused to bring any of the bombers to justice, and failed to restrain the outspoken malevolence of much of t he white community. The second part of this chapter explores the disjuncture between the terrible shame brought on by the Sixteenth Street Church bombing which killed four young African American girls and the remaining angst in the white community regardi ng school integration. The aftermath of the bombing provided a platform for southern liberals to 9 Collection 256, Box 3, File 6, BPLAD. 10 Birmingham News 2 April 1963.
143 11 In Birmingham, while men and women across the city mourned the death of four innocent children, pressure mounted to freeze integration in its tracks. Private schools opened, white women begged their leaders for protection as they took their childr en to school, and white men denounced token integration lest their daughters and wives fall victim to oversexed black men. Consistent with the fears of the previous decade, which centered on the black ham expressed anxiety about a new kind of young, white male: an intellectual beatnik who was susceptible to Communism, anarchy, and integration. Using the specters of black men who sought sex with white women, along with deviant images of young, white, un athletic, social critics, the second portion of this chapter argues that the Movement propelled the white community to reestablish explicitly heteronormative and patriarchal gender roles while shedding the violent edge personified by Bull Connor. Attemptin g to capitalize on the whites sought to maintain control over race and gender relations. One day after Mayor Albert Boutwell defeated Connor in the ma yoral election of Alabama Christian Movement for Human Right (ACMHR), the Easter season boycott and 11 Washington Post, 18 September 1963, A6.
144 demonstrations were originally designed to begin in March. 12 But when Boutwell and Connor met each other in a run off election for mayor, Shuttlesworth urged the SCLC to post pone the demonstrations, fearing that the turmoil might push more votes toward Connor. 13 that the demands of the Birmingham demonstrations should be modest and attainable witho demonstrations towards the business community, challenging integration in privately owned spaces. Designed by King, Shuttlesworth, and SCLC Executive Director, Wyatt Tee Walker, the goals of the Birmingham movement included the desegregation of lunch counters and other facilities open to the public in downtown stores, fair hiring practices in those stores, including employment of qualified African Americans for white collar jobs, the establ ishment of a biracial group to work out a timetable for the desegregation of all Birmingham public schools, and the reopening of city parks and playgrounds. 14 Soon after the demonstrations began, a fifth requirement was added, that the charges brought by t he businesses against those arrested would be dropped. 15 More than anyone else, Walker orchestrated the Birmingham movement. From black community. 16 Attorney Arthur Shores ed ucated Walker regarding the ordinances 12 Correspondence between Rev. Walker to Rev. Shuttlesworth, Shuttlesworth Collection, Box 4, King Center. 13 14 Washington Post, 5 April 1963. 15 Washington Post, 5 April 1963. 16
145 and bail bond procedures of the city and he met with religious and community leaders to rally support. Walker mapped out the exact locations for the coming sit ins, even counting the tables and stools at many of the l unch counters in downtown Birmingham. 17 whom resided outside of the city limits but earned their living in Birmingham. 18 King, Walker, and Shuttlesworth selected the prominent industr points. 19 During a three day planning session in Savannah, King and SCLC movement it was concentrated on 20 The struggle in Birmingham was to be centered entirely on the white business community. On April 3, just a day after Birmingham elected Boutwell, twenty well dressed volunteer members of ACHMR walked in and sat down at lunch counters in Britling 21 Word reached Connor and h e rushed into the business district to end the sit ins. Birmingham police arrested four men and two of the lunch counters closed for the day. Whites bristled at the demonstrations, angry on account of the fact that just one day earlier, the city had voted to turn out Bull Connor and to begin a new era with Mayor elect 17 Marti n Luther King, (Signet Publishing Company, 1964), 42. 18 King, 42. 19 King, 42. 20 King, 40. 21 Chicago Daily Defender 4 April 1963.
146 Boutwell. 22 Martin Luther King responded to white frustration by stating that the black city. We feel Mr. Boutwell will never desegregate Birmingham voluntarily. Our cup of 23 demonstrations continued. On April 5, 1963, Shuttlesworth sent a telegram to Commissioner Connor to request a perm Connor replied with a telegram telling Shuttlesworth to stay out off of the streets of Birmingham. 24 On April 6, policemen arrested forty two marchers as they knelt to reportedly pray for the City of Birmi 25 By that evening, six demonstrators, thirty five of whom were convicted on charges of trespass after warning, s entenced six months in prison, and fined $100. King called a news conference on the evening of April 6 during which he 26 As the demonstrations escalated, Connor and Boutwell fought for control of the city. Even though Birmingham residents voted for the mayor council form of government 22 Rob Ins Ill Washington Post, 6 April 1963, A4. 23 Ins Ill Washington Post, 6 April 1963, A4. 24 5 April 1963, Connor Papers, Box 13, File 2. 25 Washington Post Times Herald City Ha New York Times 7 April 1963, 55. 26 Washington Post Times Herald New Y ork Times 7 April 1963, 55.
147 and elected Mayor Boutwell as their new leader, Commissioners Hanes, Connor, and Waggone r refused to leave until their term was set to expire in 1965. The Alabama Supreme Court would have to decide. Throughout the demonstrations in the spring of 1963, Birmingham had two mayors and two municipal governments. When a call came into City Hall wi 27 While Mayor elect Boutwell worked with the business community throughout the On the morning of April 7, Palm Sunday, a parade of 600 African Americans before a group African American men and wo men on bended knee, a Birmingham count the ticking seconds from his watch. After his count, the police scattered the peaceful crowd with police dogs. 28 The threat of violen ce did little to suppress the Americ an community to refrain from purchasing new clothes for Easter, began to hurt business. Owners reported losses between ten and twenty five percent. 29 To keep up the pressure, 27 New York Times 7 May 1963. 28 New York Times 7 May 1963. 29 James C. Tan Wall Street Journal, 16 May 1963, 1.
148 students from the historically black Miles College walked around the retail stores to send black customers away. 30 prompting President Kennedy to cut his Easter vacation short to confer with Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall about Birmingham. 31 t to the local black community, requesting patience. In response to the statement, King wrote an open letter from the Birmingham jail in which he accused Boutwell and Bi Boutwell is much more articulate and gentle than Mr. Connor, they are both reached the regrettable conclusion that he is the Shuttlesworth, and the local black community knew that the moderate in Birmingham remained a supremacist, 32 That same day, as if on cue, Mayor Ha 33 30 Wall Street Jou rnal, 16 May 1963, 1. 31 Chicago Daily Defender 15 April 1963, 4. 32 BPLAD. 33 Birmingham News 1.
149 residents clung to the notion that the upheaval came from outside of the city. Chairman of the Board at the First National Bank in Birmingh am, General John Persons pointed to 34 The narrative perpet uated by whites demonized King 35 Charles Morgan, a local attorney, racial liberal, and active YMBC member, wrote that the priv whites deviated from the public discourse. The Brown decision, the occasional protest by college students, and the Freedom Rides were all explained away as products of outside agitation. But with the spring demonstrations, B confused and angered by the recognition that local black men and women were in revolt . no matter how often Birmingham blamed its problems on the outside agitators, it somehow sensed that those who went to jail were local Negro 36 With the encouragement of the leaders of the demonstrations, children joined the protests. Fliers circulated around the city urging youngsters to 37 The willingness on the part of African Ame ricans young and old to choose jail over obedience flew in the face of white expectations. According to King, ailing the Negro was once as much of a threat as the loss of job. To any Negro who 34 35 Ann Cochran to Senator Lister Hill, May 1963. Lister Hill Papers, Stanley Hoole Collections, University of Alabama. 36 M organ, A Time to Speak 37 New York Times.
150 displayed a spark of manhood, a southern law enforcement offi 38 White policemen, firefighters, and those men quickly deputized to help quell the demonstrations experienced the impotence of their threats jail, dogs, and even high power hoses could not keep their black neighbors off of the streets. In his reflections on the Movement, King considers moments of crises in which white men accustomed to black accommodation, faced uncompromising black manhood He expected that in that exchange, white officer 39 Leslie powerful exchanges between white and black men in the str therefore, who stands up as a man, though he stands up to us, is a gift to our manhood; and though for a little while we try to stare him down and force him down, we know in the bottoms of our hearts that his cool and appraising gaze is what we need. . and in such moments of recognition, we realize that we live by an invisible sun within us, and 40 In Birmingham in the spring of 1963, African American activists turned jail, a weapon of the powerful an d a symbol of black powerlessness into a badge of honor. In so doing, they communicated to the white community that southern black men, women, and children were no longer afraid. While King and Dunbar believed that the demonstrations moved whites to acknow ledge equality in manhood, many of 38 King, 15. 39 King, 15. 40 Leslie Dunbar, The Shame of Southern Politicians (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002).
151 controlled by fear and brutality. Reverend Shuttlesworth announced the new black man in Birmingham through his communication with the black, n ot white, community. To the 41 nine Kennedy dispatched Burke Marshall to work with the new government to bring an end to what appeared to be an impasse. 42 demonstrations overwhelmed the city. On May 3, faced with thousands of marching youngsters, Bull Connor called in the K 9 troops and ordered his men to unleash fire hoses on the children and teenagers. In the coming days, Connor turned the city of Birmi ngham into a police state, moving through the downtown area, ordering his Connor 43 On the morning of May 6, 1963, once again, three thousand marchers poured into the business district to sing and pray. Connor gave the signal for the Birmingham police to turn on high powered fire hoses to disperse the demonstrators. By late afternoon, 867 protestors had been sent to jail bringing the total to more than 2,200. 44 41 Statement by Fred Shuttlesworth, April 1963, Shuttlesworth Papers, Box 4, King Center, 42 Christian Science Monitor 16 April 1963, 2. 43 Ne w York Times 11 May 1963, 8. 44 Christian Science Monitor 7 May 1963.
152 The Business Community Negotiates By May 7, nearly five weeks after the demonstrations had begun, the business community finally relented. While hoses held back thousands of protesters and fire ncial leaders met in an emergency veritable sea of black faces and realized that the black community, which had been complacent for so long, would not rest until their goals were g 45 Sidney Smyer 46 Mayor elect Boutwell, members of the new City Council, and the Senior rs, met 47 The men in attendance represented a broad swath of o the meeting to hammer out a solution for their city. These men reportedly employed 75 48 nd Iron division (the largest employer in area), Alabama Power Company, First National Bank of Birmingham, Vulcan Materials Company, and Woodward Iron Company comprised the Committee. In the 195 0s am. In the 196 0s they were the Senior Citizens Committee. It was 45 46 47 New York Times 8 May 1963, 29. 48 Washington Post A2.
153 their name, not their motives, which had changed. 49 When asked about the 50 Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall oversaw the meeting, frequently phoning Washington to report the progress of a compromise as well as calling the black community leaders to assist in a truce. 51 The meeting was touted as one which both ship of Birmingham, its merchants, industrialists, and professional men have been increasingly concerned for yet voluntarily, to improve job opportunities in some of t he stores, to desegregate some of the lunch counters, and to improve the very unreliable lines of communication 52 After devoting years to the preservation of white supremacy and segregation, the members of Senior Citizens Committee erase d their culpability in demands demands aimed only at them. 53 Both sides agreed to a four point limited desegregation plan which included plans to desegregate all store facilities 49 50 Dan Carter, George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000). 51 New York Times 8 May 1963, 29. When asked about the decision to take part in the meeting. Sid Smyer 52 Washington Post 13 May 1963, A14. 53 New York Times, 18 May 1963, 19.
154 including lunch counters and dressing rooms, each downtown department store promised to hire at least one black clerk, the city would drop charges against those men, women, and children in jail, and a biracial committee would come together to work toward the hiring of black policemen and the desegregation of schools and parks. 54 Two days later, in the early morning of Saturda y, May 11, two bombs rocked younger brother while the second bomb tore a hole through the A.G. Gaston motel half a block away no one was killed. The leaders of SCLC and t he local movement used both locations for meetings and retreat throughout the demonstrations. Following the was stabbed in the back by a rioter while two others wer e struck by missiles. African Americans flooded the streets, throwing bottles, bricks, gravel, and rocks at the passing 55 Alabama Highway Patrolmen ru shed onto the scene to reinforce night to disperse the crowds. Rev. Walker came out into the streets to encourage the crowds to go home but they refused. 56 Mayor Hanes bl 54 55 New York Times, 12 May 1963, 1. 56
155 black community in Birmingham. 57 By May 15, 3,000 combat ready state patrolmen stood within striking distance in the event of new outbreaks of major violence. 58 Armed troopers remained an ever present force in Birmingham from the bombings of the Gaston Motel through December 1963. 59 O utsiders blamed city, state, and church officials for allowing the strong arm tactics of whites against blacks to continue unimpeded in Birmingham for so many years. 60 On the street, however, many Birmingham whites commented on the lack of white on black vi olence in the streets. Not only did the police men keep their dogs leashed, but white extremists remained home as black rioters engulfed much of the city. 61 perhaps with a touch of surprise that no white mobs gather ed during the five weeks of newspaperman. 62 A fund was established by the city to reward any information regarding the bombing and many pledged money. The YMBC pledged $25 63 57 Wall Street Journal, 16 Ma y 1963, 1. 58 Christian Science Monitor 6. 59 Morgan, A Time to Speak 7. 60 Chicago Daily Defender 20 May 1963, 4. 61 Washington Post 20 May 1963, A2. 62 Washington Post 20 May 1963, A2. 63 Morgan, A Time to Speak 8.
156 The press responded with profuse sympathy for the business leaders who had have be en far ahead of the politicians in their ability to read the future consequences of the old traditions 64 William Engel, a Birmingham Realtor and member of the Senior Citizens Committee, embraced the role of southe 65 Many of the members of the Senior Citizens Committee were the individuals who had, only a few years earlier, committed themselves to white supremacy and had worked to create intransigent systems of segregation were now praised as the courageous southern moderates. Sydney Smyer was one of the principal organizers of the American States Rights Party and Mayor Boutwell was the principal architect of the P upil Placement Act, a plan to duck racial integration in Jefferson control until it began to affect their bottom line. The numbers reported in the downtown business distric t could not be ignored. One restaurant owner in Birmingham reported that his business has fallen twenty five percent since the latest outbreak of racial strife began on April 3. The latest Federal Reserve Bank report revealed that department store sales dr opped ten percent below the year earlier level in the four weeks ended May 4, 1963. 66 These were the more conservative numbers of the day. The state revenue department records for Jefferson County revealed that there had been a drop 64 Was hington Post 13 May 1963, A14. 65 Wall Street Journal, 16 May 1963, 1. 66 Wall Street Journal, 16 May 1963, 1.
157 in consumer sales from y ears previous by $ 1,765,400 for the month of April. 67 The drop businessmen also faced the prospect of losing all new investments in the industrial economy. John Williams, head of become known as a city of re action, rebellion, and riot . gaining industry as fast we should. A businessman who sees and heard of the racial Birmingham businessman. 68 Their business acumen, however, was not the story that carried the day. The headline in papers across the country reported the emergence of a new type of Birmingham man, one who was going to save the city and, possibly, the South. Reporters described this unnamed man, time and time again, throug h the weeks and months following the truce. He was moderate, used judgment over force, moved slowly Wa ll Street Journal run may represent one of the most significant developments in Dixie race relations since the Negro began his organized efforts to attain expanded civil rights more than a decade ago . the businessman could wield the balance of power between the 67 New York Times, 18 May 1963, 19. 68 New York Times, 18 May 1963, 19.
158 69 The Big Mules and business class, who 70 The white businessman in Birmingham appeared as a reluctant savior, coming sought a solution to pull back their city from the brink of a race riot. 71 The press and the businessmen themselves cultivated a certain persona the modern southern gentleman: a quiet leader who with move the city beyond its ugly past with a steady hand and mind. 72 one who had consciously and carefully distanced himself from the rabble. Not only did the white collared man represent the advent of a more moderate South, his image also served to make obsolete his collusion in On May 23, who had missed classes to participate in the demonstrations, effectively ousting eleven hundred children from the county school system. Outsiders interpreted the massive dismissal as pure 69 Wall Street Journal, 16 May 1963, 1. 70 Washington Post 20 May 1963, A2. 71 New York Ti mes, 18 May 1963, 19. 72 Christian Science Monitor,
159 73 Following the bombs in Birmingham, the riots, the wry comments made to outside reporters parodying the city slogan across the city. Synagogues were bathed in light, two mayors and two governments claimed cont rol over the mayhem, and pot. 74 75 Some white Alabamian leaders denounced the compromise. In a statement to the press, Gove businessmen and Negro leaders. There may be a meeting but I as Governor have no part of such meeting and will not be a party to any meeting to compromise on the issues commend Bull Connor and his forces upon their handling 76 One point of contention among many outside of the meeting was the anonymity of those who chose to hammer out a solution on behalf of the entire city. Robert Shelton, Imperial Wizard of the KKK, exploited class resentment over racial resentment in his invitation to a rally in Birmingham in 1963, stating that the city needed and their little dee 73 Washington Post 23 May 1963, A22. 74 Washington Post A2. 75 76 Out Segregationists Vow No Retreat Despite New Negro Wall Street Journal 23 May 1963, 1.
160 77 In a radio address responding to the secret negotiations, Commissioner Connor revealed the precarious position of the downtown business 78 A top put in a Negro clerk is going to find out what a real boycott is like. For every Negro 79 At a Ku Klux Klan rally, while the negotiations continued, the members were urged to turn in credit cards for all stores whose management took part in the meetings. 80 create a list of store managers who agreed to integrate their staff and their facilities, a list replete with name, address, and telephone numbers which they promised to freely distributed on the streets of downtown Birmingham. 81 On the day that the order of expulsion came down, the Alabama Supreme Court 77 78 79 Out 80 1. 81 Out Segregationists Vow No Retreat Despite Ne w Negro
161 were f inally able to officially take office and govern city affairs. 82 After collecting his personal papers from his office, ex Mayor Hanes told the media that he was returning th e street with his policemen. Newsmen followed him to his office where he removed his and went home. 83 On the afternoon of May 23, Mayor Albert Boutwell entered office. H e ordered the schools to open their doors to the expelled children and openly stated that he would be 84 one newspaperman described the local and national reaction to Boutwell 85 Nonetheless, difficult times lay ahead for the city. Within two weeks, a federal court and everyone in the city the city looked as though it might turn a corner, residents sweltering in the humid, ninety degree heat opined that it was going to be a long, hot summer. 86 The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing and the Blame continued to fight for racial segregation. Although the discourse of restraint and moderation characterized much of the new Birmingham, staunch segregationists remained undeterred. Between March and 82 Birmingham News 20 May 1963, 1. 83 New York Times 23 May 1963, 1. 84 85 86
162 September of 1963, white supremacists bo mbed five Africa n American homes. The bombs went unsolved and the entire white community remained silent. 87 In addition, the downtown department stores had not honored their promises to hire black store clerks and the city failed to make progress toward an integrated polic e force. 88 As the moderate forces in Birmingham failed to honor all of their promises from the spring, other men in the city moved forward with their plans. The United Americans for Conservative Government, the Citizens Council of Alabama, and the Ku Klux Klan stepped up their campaigns in Birmingham in the summer of 1963. The most active group was the National States Rights Party (NSRP). Dr. Edward Fields, founder of the NSRP, organized an anti integration rally almost every week with an attendance rate be tween of 150 and 300 men and women. School desegregation in the fall loomed large 89 races 90 The NSRP planned a motorcade leading up to the first day of school in an attempt to rally support and keep white children out of integrated schools. 91 On Wednesday, September 4, 1963, white demonstrators waving Confed 87 st New York Times, 16 September 1963, 26. 88 ACHMR and SCLC Pam 1963 William Hamilton Papers, Collection 265, Box 4. 89 Memoranda from Lieutenant T.H. Cook to Chief of Police Jamie Moore and William Hamilton, 1 July and ACMHR during the summer of 1963, Hamilton Papers, Box 265, Folder 3, File 35A. BPLAD. 90 Memoranda to Chief of Police Jamie Moore and William Hamilton, 30 August 1963, Hamilton Papers, Box 265, Folder 3, File 35A, BPLAD. 91 ans to organize a motorcade, September 1962, Hamilton Papers, Box 265, Folder 3, File 35A. BPLAD.
163 gathered outside of Graymont Elementary school to express their opposition to school integration in Birmingham. 92 Graymont Elementary, Ramsay High School and West End High School were to be integrated in the upcoming week and Birmingham teetered on the edge of violence. Rather than urging peace, Governor Wallace and Albert Boutwell came out in support of a private school endeavor in West End. 93 In response to the rising tension, Fr ed Shuttlesworth circulated a paper urging that peace would last through the tense first day s of desegregation which was to begin the following week. 94 Rather than urging his citizens to comply and peacefully accept school integration, Mayor Boutwell sought a court order to postpone the token integration. His efforts failed and on Wednesday, Septe mber 11, black children attended previously all white schools. Integration took place without major incident. Just four days later, in the early hours of Sunday, September 15, 19 63, Robert 122 sticks of dynamite in the basement of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a local African American church which served as a meeting place for activists during th e demonstrations earlier that spring. At 10:26 on Sunday morning, as families were 92 New York Times 25. 93 Radio message plea from Wallace in Birmin gham to contribute to the private school endeavor in West End, Letter from Boutwell to Marshall, Marshall Papers, Collection 300, Box 2, File 6, BPLAD. 94 Birmingham read, practice the religion we profess, and honor the Fat ACMHR, Shuttlesworth Papers, Box 1, King Center.
164 seated in their church pews and Sunday school children filed down to the basement to reassemble for closing prayers, the dynamite exploded. Four young girls, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, and Carole Robertson died. The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the fiftieth bombing in Birmingham in since World War II and the fourth in four weeks, none of which had been solved. 95 In the hours following the church bombing, t wo young white men coming from a NSRP meeting, riding a scooter on the outskirts of Birmingham, shot and killed Virgil Ware, a thirteen year old African 96 That afte rnoon, a Birmingham Police patrolman raised his shotgun fro m his car window and killed sixteen year old Johnnie Robinson, a young African Americ an who was throwing rocks at cars full of white youths dri ving through the streets with Confederate battle flags 97 Robinson was fleeing the scene when a patrolman fired a buck shot, hitting the young man in the back. Fires blazed throughout the black sections of the city, riots 98 Because of the chaos, the NSPR cancelled a scheduled 95 Chicago Daily Defender, 16 September 1963, A3; Claude Sitton The New York Times September 16, 1963, 1. 96 97 Accounts of the bombing of the Sixteen th Street Baptist Church and the ensuing violence come from Elizabeth H. Cobbs, Petric J. Smith, Bombing that Rocked the World m Christian Science Monitor Chicago Daily Defender, New York Times, omb Kills Four Negro Girls in 98
165 motorcade of over 1,000 white residents protesting school integration as groups of white men and women 99 At noo n the following day, September 16, the city was to have a communal moment of silence for the grief stricken families. A tearful Mayor Boutwell and Chief of Police Jamie Moore, appeared on local television the previous evening to call for calm and community 100 their children, music from the carillons high atop the downtown Protective Life Building commenced and wafted through the shocked city. The carillons chimed out the tune to 101 Birmingham appeared unchanged. That morning, Charles Morgan woke early to draft a speech for his meeting with down his thoughts before the meeting. He scribbled down notes rife with anger, despair, 102 As he walked to the downtown meeting, the young attorney absorbed his city with new eyes and ears. He noticed every symbol of hatred and conflict which infiltrated Birmingham and he came to an exhausting realization Birmingham was not going to change. He passed vacant storefronts of shops forced close after the spring boycotts business owners lost money from a black boycott and then from a white one when merchants acquiesced to black demands. State troopers, a 99 Chicago Tribune ,16 September 1963, 1. 100 Morgan, A Time to Speak 2 101 Morgan, A Time to Speak 4. 102 Morgan, A Time to Speak 165.
166 recent force in Birmingham, walked the streets in their shiny new helmet s upon which Governor Wallace embossed with an insignia of the Confederate flag. Morgan reached the Redmont Hotel at noon with his speech in his pocket and walked in. 103 Standing after many club members maligned outside agitators and the hostile national pr it. Every last o ne of us is condemned for that crime . it is every senator and every representative who stands and with mock humility tells the world that things back home ma ss of intolerance and bigotry and stand indicted before our young . And who is suggested tha t they admit a black member. Those gathered met the motion with silence. Soon after, the meeting was adjourned; the men filed out of The Redmont to the tune of Dixie on the carillons, got into their cars, and drove back over the mountain. 104 Remembering the 105 Whites in Birmingham joined Morgan in his effort to stop the displacement of blame across the city. While those parents around West End and Graymont redirected 103 Morgan, A Time to Speak 1 14. 104 Morgan, A Time to Speak 1 14. 105 Morgan, A Time to Speak 165.
167 their attention on school segregation following the murders, many remained outraged at themselves and their city. To Mayor Boutwell, Betty Fowle 106 Norman Jimerson, the director of the Alabama Council on Human Relations, publicly stated that the violence will continue until we humbly admit before God that we share a common 107 Dr. Abe Siegles confessed his shame in a letter explaining why he removed a Jim Crow sign to hospital administrators, "This sign which glares at me as I enter and leave my office has becom e so intolerable that I had to remove it." The recent event "which took the lives of innocent children" reminded him of his "failure as a citizen and the failure of this institution of higher learning to exert a constructive influence in our community." 108 O 109 The murder of children, not committed by mere bigots from the backwoods alone . those public officials and leading citizens who set the standard of violent behavior . by words and actions 110 Ala 106 Betty Fowler to Mayor Albert Boutwell, 23 September 1963, Boutwell Papers, Collection 264, Box 11, File 3, BPLAD. 107 Christian Science Monitor 17 September 1963, 1. 108 Letter from Abe Sieg les, University of Alabama in Birmingham Archives, as reported by Kaye Cochran Nail, Birmingham researcher in letter to author, 8 October 2009. 109 Christian Times 16 September 1963, 2. 110 And New York Times 34.
168 111 One writer noted, even as Mayor Boutwell sheds tears over soug ht, unsuccessfully, a court order to postpone even the token school 112 Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota blamed the moneyed and empowered men in Alabama. In front of the Senate, Humphrey declared that the men who control banks, factories, controls the South and her politicians with their deep pockets. 113 the whirlwind of racial hatred and violence has been encouraged not permitted but e 114 Georgia Representative Charles Weltner blamed the southern moderate, a group in which he Weltner proclaimed. The murders in Birmingham too 115 The Atlanta based civil rights activist group, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), looked outside of the South for the culprits. On September 18, SNCC circulated a list of the ten largest companies in Birmingham, all of which were headquartered in the North, to argue that greedy northern industrialists established and promoted racial segregation in Birmingham and across the South. The companies listed, including U.S. Stee l and U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company employed over 35 111 The Washington Post Herald 17 September 1963, A12. 112 The Washington Post Herald 17 September 1963, A12. 113 New Yo rk Times 27. 114 New York Times 27. 115 Washington Post, 18 September 1963, A5.
169 the lower by the silence and inaction 116 Eugene Patterson, editor of the Atlanta Constitution took his turn to place blame for the death of the four young girls in his regular Monday column. He, too, refused to blame the individual who planted that run wild in every society slide their leashes from our hand . we, who resented the necessary, rat ionalized the unacceptable, and created the day surely when these 117 In a moving description of a mo ther standing in front of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, holding in her hand the shoe of her dead child, e of us in the white South holds that small shoe in his hand . let us see it straight. Let us compare it with . the spectacle of shrilling children whose parents and teachers turned them free to spit epithets at small huddles of Negro school childr 118 The steel town mongers were more evil, their moderates, weaker, and their elite, greedier, than the rest of the region. Nine days after Chambliss planted the dynamite, in the early morning of September 25, 1963, two bombs exploded on a neighborhood street in a black 116 New York Times 26. 117 Washington Post, 18 September 1963, A6. 118 Washington Post, 18 September 1963, A6.
170 residential area in downtown Birmingham which damaged at least eight homes. According to Shuttlesworth, the f irst bomb was exploded for the purpose of attracting a 119 The second bomb, which went off about an hour later, t argeted any spectators who gathered around the area of the first explosion. Shuttlesworth sent out a pamphlet which instructed men, women, and children what to do in the case of a bomb can Americans continued to be at the mercy of city. 120 Pagan Savages, Young Beatnik s, and White Mothers culprits remained at large and school desegregation continued unabated. In the Graymont and West End school areas, parents joined together to raise money for private schools. Pleading for money from Senators Lister Hill and John Sparkman, as well as Mayor Boutwell, the Graymont Parents for Private School and West End Parents dren 121 Boutwell responded to the white parents with his support, 119 Pamp hlet distributed by ACMHR, 25 September 1963, Shuttlesworth Papers, Box 1, King Center. 120 John J. Drew to Burke Marshall, 20 September 1963, Marshall Papers, Collection 300, Box 2, BPLAD. 121 John Stanton of Graymont Parents for Private Schools to Lister Hill, October 1963, Lister Hill Papers, William Stanley Hoole Special Collections, Tuscaloosa.
171 buoying their resolve to keep Birmingham white. 122 The United Americans for Conservative Government in Birmingham distributed pamphlets which informed the parents of integrated schools that they could legally pull their child out of school while the ASRA distributed a list of supposed crimes which had tak en place at integrated schools in Alabama. Entitle page pamphlet most ich included the 123 The discourse of female victimhood (of integration) to our white people, especially our female population. Look around you Sir, what you see happening to our white female, raped, ravaged, mugged . at the hands 124 Women used female victimhood to induce their leade rs to stand against integration as well, reporting that in Birmingham, it is not uncommon in wearing razor blades in the toes of their shoes and kicking the heels of white 125 While white women were at risk when schools integrated, communism threatened young, white men. Anxiety over communism and youth came to the fore in Birmingham 122 Graymont Parents for Private Schools Literature, October 1963, Boutwell Papers, Collection 264, Box 12, File 2, BPLAD. 123 124 Robert H. Hill to Lister Hill, June 5, 1963, Lister Hill Papers, WSHSC. 125 Miss Marilyn Hodges to Lister Hill, 12 June 1963, Lister Hill Papers, WSHSC.
172 in the fall of 1963, as well. 126 Always a suspicion that Dr. King and racial liberal s were spreading communism in the South, with the desegregation of schools, the fear grew. Founded in Birmingham in 1955, the General John G. Forney Historical Society warned quer the keep their children safe from communism, the society also enco uraged sports because 127 City leaders began to advocate tougher, more active 128 Shades Valley High School endured a communi sm scare fell under suspicion after a fellow female classmate charged that the group was in every 129 In the years to come, the fear of Communism in Birmingham would direct the requisites of young, white manhood. Beginnin g in 1963, the Forney Society labeled pornography as part of the Communist agenda and by 1964, City Councilman George Siebels suggested that a group of 126 For an analysis of the links between masculinity and anti in an Age of Anxiety: Cold War Political Culture and the Crisis in American Masculinity, 1949 The Journal of American History 87 Vol 2 (September 20 00) 515 545. 127 1963. Lister Hill Papers, WSHSC. 128 1963. Lister Hill Papers, WSHSC. 129 Birmingham Post Herald, 18 September 1962, 4.
173 Birmingham women find and rid the city of such filth. 130 By the spring of 1963,City C ouncil members began a campaign to encourage athleticism, Christian morality, and Conclusion their hands in a near ites historian Allison Graham in her 131 In her examinations of the To Kill A Mockingbird Graham argues that Atticus Fin ch and Bob Ewell symbolize the alignm ent of class and racial enlightenment rough edges as a symbol of violence, racism, and poverty. 132 the ignorance of the working poor and serve as a c ontrast to the tolerance, goodness, and intelligence of the white shirt and suit of Atticus Finch. 133 By the beginning of the although few in the city reflected the corru demonstrations, the film portended the coming months in 1963 in Birmingham. While not as class did a ppear as a mark of racial sentiment in the city 130 Letter to Siebels regarding pornography, 18 June 1964, Siebel Papers, Collection 263, Box 2, File 1, BPLAD. 131 Allison Graham, Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle (Baltimor e: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 8. 132 Graham, Framing the South, 8. 133 Graham, Framing the South, 10.
174 businessmen and the press, the imag e of the southern businessman emerged ce and turbulence. As the city appeared on the front page s of newspapers across the country, local whites grew painfully aware that they in the middle and upper classes consciously distanced themselves from the blooming stigma of southern violence and, by so doing, dodged disgrace and left poorer whites to be judged and shamed for the Sixteen Street Baptist Church bombing, whites in Birmingham continued to fight integration. While the image of a chest thumping, violent racist could no longer command respect in the city, wered black community in the city pushed their white counterparts to shore up southern, white manhood through more palatable means. The white collared businessman and his fight for Christianity and against Commun ism provided a path to keep the races separa te while proclaiming adherence to a Christian, rather than a southern, agenda.
175 CHAPTER SIX In September 1958, Jefferson County state senator and lieutenant governor nominee Albert Boutwell, standing before a pro seg regation rally in Birmingham, called Highlands Methodist Church, the center of Methodist resistance, the gathering brought together the well to do and well connected in no Birmingham derived in large part from his authorship of the pupil placement plan, which Brown decision. 1 In 1963, Boutwell replaced Connor, Hanes, and Waggoner t o preside over the new city council an d Birmingham as mayor. His carefully pressed, long sleeved shirts, wire rimmed glasses, and reputation for careful consideration signaled a new era in the steel city. Possessed of both good business sense and an ear fo r the changing politics of white segregation quietly. In a departure from his open posturing i mayor took the struggle for segregation behind closed doors while espousing racial one thousand black children who skipped school to participate in the spring protests. In August, however, he quietly sought a court order to postpone school integration. In September, when Robert Chambliss, Bobby Cherry, and Tim Blanton murdered the four young girls on September 15, the newly elected mayor appeared o n television with tears in his eyes to urge a moment of prayer for the victims and the city. But two weeks 1 Eskew, But for Birmingham, 113.
176 later, when President John F. Kennedy sent West Point football coach Earl Blaik and ro and white to the meeting. Instead, he whisked Blaik and Royall off to have lunch Mountain Brook Country Club, an exclusively ormed his visitors of their purely advisory role in his city, as racial peace in Birmingham was most often 2 His purpose was not to ion of dramatic racial 3 This chapter examines the evolution of a new manifestation of southern racism, one which was practiced rather than preached and often concealed within a discourse of morality when publicly aired. Whereas segregationists in the 1940s and 1950s explicitly bound blackness with cultural and moral inferiority, the violence of the early 1960s compelled most whites to practice prudence when discussing racial differences. Still, the cultural supremacy of southern whites was accepted almost entirely in the white South into the 1960s. 4 integration took a variety of forms in Birmingham and across the South. The chapter documents not only the emerging discourse of racial equality in the 1960s but also the processes concealed by the public rhetoric, most specifically the fight to maintain white suburbs and the campaign for morality that was most vehemently pushed by wealthier whites living within the city limits. Even as white moderates fought against annexation 2 Birmingham News 20 May 1963. 3 Newsweek, 11 December 1964. 4 Time, 4 October 1963.
177 and advocated the cultural supremacy of whites, they sought to maintain a public image of progressiveness. Through biracial committees, public relations work, and the constant employment of the specter of the lower class racist, the middle class men of the city preserved their moderate image, their political power, as well as, their white neighborhoods, school and churches. Operation New Birmingham In 1957, a group of white businessmen formed the Birmingham Downtown Improvement Association (BDIA) to counter the growing popularity of suburban shopping and to prevent the disintegration of the downtown business district. 5 That year, Eastwood Mall, the largest indoor mall in the country, opened its doo rs in East Birmingham, drawing shoppers away from the city core and into the suburbs. Between 1957 and 1963, the BDIA served to build and revitalize downtown Birmingham. In 1963, the group changed its name from the Downtown Improvement Association to Opera tion New Birmingham (ONB). While still focused on the business of keeping the city center appealing and productive, Mayor Albert Boutwell and the city council charged the al 6 The decision came in the wake of the turmoil of 1963 as city businessmen realized the financial repercussions of 7 Recognizing that they nee ded a focused committee, a group of ONB members formed the Community Affairs Committee (CAC), a biracial group of white and black business and community leaders 5 http://www.yourcitycenter.com/HistoryofONB.aspx accessed 3 July 2010. 6 http://www.yourcitycenter.com/HistoryofONB.aspx accessed 3 July 2010. 7 Chicago Daily Defender
178 8 In a confidential meet ing of the group relations committee just weeks after the church bombing, city back from the brink. The Community Affairs Committee prioritized plans that would prese nt the appearance of a changing city. The biracial group voted to desegregate local churches, l business associations. 9 Comprised of black and white community leaders, the CAC began to 10 In December, the group created a plan for the coming year to address the problems of raci al inequity; their priorities included open public facilities, employing blacks as policemen and firemen, sponsoring black artists, acknowledging publicly contributions of African ve 11 superficial, however. The director of the Alabama Council on Human Relations, 8 te, http://www.yourcitycenter.com/HistoryofONB.aspx accessed 3 July 2010. 9 Hamilton Papers, Collection 265, Box, 4, Fi le 10, BPLAD 10 Business Week 15 March 1969, 140 146. 11 CAC on Group Relations, 30 December 1963, Hamilton Papers, Collection 265, Box 4, File 1, BPLAD
179 action in re 12 In the beginning of 1965, the committee invited William Bowen, the Vice President of the Urban Association in Little Rock, to the annual meeting of the group. 13 Bowen came to Birmingham as a steward from another tarnished southern city to share how his projects, even when involving a drastic departure from the past, are nevertheless, influen the restoration of old buildings, the building of new ones, the founding of a beautification board and, most notably, the clearance of black slums. 14 It was this last point tha t the Birmingham News visit, the News own 15 A key plank in Operation demolition of African American neighborhoods. peration New Birmingham 12 Norman Jimerson to Boutwell, 20 March 1964, Hamilton Papers, Collection 265, Box 4, File 13, BPLAD. 13 Address by William Bowen, Vice President from Urban Progress Association in Little Rock at Birmingham Downtown Improvement Association Meeting, 4 March 1965, Siebels Pa pers, Collection 273, Box 4, File 41. 14 Address by William Bowen, Vice President from Urban Progress Association in Little Rock at Birmingham Downtown Improvement Association Meeting, 4 March 1965, Siebels Papers, Collection 273, Box 4, File 41. 15 Birmingham News, 7 March 1965.
180 1965, ONB, together with the Architecture League of Birm ingham and Mayor Boutwell, unveiled the lopment in downtown Birmingham including the construction of new office and city buildings, an airport, and a program for slum clearance. 16 The design became a reality. By 1969, Birmingham had a beautification board, construction was underway for twenty six new buildings, the city had invested $36 million on a new civic center, owners modernized hotels and expanded department stores across the downtown area and Mayor George Seibels pushed through a $50 million bond issue for an airport, road, and public facilities expansion. 17 The new developments came at a cost. While residents in downtown Birmingham received grants and low t and homeowners in this area experienced strict code enforcements if they could not afford to fix up their properties, they would have to sell. One resident wrote to Council violations (retroactive, mind you) . and give you 60 days to make such c orrections. 18 In addition to Operation Pride, urban 16 Birmingham Downtown Improvement Association Meeting, January 1965, Siebels Papers, Collection 273, Box 4, File 40. 17 Business Week 15 March 1969. 18 File 6, BPLAD.
181 income housing areas such as Avondale and Tuxedo Junction, a cost disproportionately American community. 19 Meanwhile, Operation New Birmingham adopted the somewhat defensive in Birmingham, however, and the suburban composition of a group responsible for directing city affairs fru strated city residents. In his weekly column in the Eastern Sun, CAC than whites within the city. Mountain Brook, which had a population of 17,000, sent sixty seven whites to the CAC while the 250,000 white residents in West End, Woodlawn, and similar neighborhoods sent sixty four representatives. Lower class whites watched as suburban businessmen and black community leaders worked toward integrated facilities which would ne 20 Throughout the 1960s, the CAC continued to foster communication between the races. Over breakfast every Tuesday morning, white and bla ck businessmen and 21 But while this meeting between the upper echelons of both races signaled progress, Charles Morgan and Dr. John Nixon, a leader in the African American commu nity, remained dubious. In 1966, Morgan admitted that the city, compared to the Birmingham 19 7, File 49, BPLAD. 20 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham 121. 21 Executive Committee to Mayor and Council regarding a resolution of the group relations committee to open up public facilities in Birmingham, no date, Vann Papers, Collection 113, Box 25, folder 25. BPLAD.
182 22 ling Business Week grit 23 It was not until 1969, according to Alabama historian Glenn Eskew, that the Mayor invested the Community Affairs Committee with any meaningful input. 24 s suspicions were well founded. In his comment on the dispel the lie of black inferiority upon which southern society was structured a nd maintained. 25 Birmingham native Doug Ca Blacks were as human as Whites was just beginning to soak into the consciousness of 26 This difficult recognition, however, did not deter 22 Business Week 15 March1969. Campaigns against the mid 1960s as well as their public willingness to comply with forced i remained intact through the 1960s in Birmingham. This is evidenced not only by the lingering race wage across the cit y but also by the fighting between white and black leadership brought on by President 23 Business Week 15 March 1969, 140 146. 24 Eskew, But for Birmingham, 325. 25 Leslie Dunbar, The Shame of Southern Politicians: Essays and Speeches, (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky ): 29. 26 Email correspondence between Doug Carpenter and Heather Bryson, 10 March 2010. Mr. Carpenter wrote about the process by which whites in Alabama came to grips with the civil rights movement. This comment came out of his discussion of white men refraining f rom sex with black women in the 1960s.
183 suburban men from their fight to remain apart f rom the integrated city. Following the violence of 1963, as Boutwell and Smyer touted racial reconciliation and progress, men collared in both white and blue clung to their dreams of racial separateness and white supremacy. In the suburban community, the s truggle for racial exclusion between 1954 and 1970 fight against annexation. With the court ordered integration of parks and schools in 1963, the tension between city and suburban resi dents increased as white collar suburbanites urged racial moderation in Birmingham while simultaneously resisting annexation to keep their parks and schools lily white. Historians have recently examined trends of suburbanization to argue that white flight was an effect of racial integration and a source of an increasingly Republican South. 27 schools was both a personal and political act. In the 1960s in Birmingham, blue collar families increasingly left the city However, most of the wealthier citizens of Jefferson County did not move; they already lived outside of the city limits. In 1958, 1964, and 1971, residents of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Homewood, temporarily departing from their public stance on racial progress, betrayed their animus toward integration in their campaign to preserve their schools, libraries, and parks for the fairly complected. Economically, joining the city seemed promising. Most men who lived in the wealthier suburbs worked i n the city and would profit from a larger city with an increased jail. 27 Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism, Lassiter, The Silent Majority; ; Sokol, There Goes My Everything; Crespino In Search of Another Country
184 tax base. Following the turbulence of 1963, men in both city and suburb regarded mayor of Birmingham David Van n, urged suburbanites to join with the city; city residents a as it is by smaller municipalities on all sides, deteriorates into a second 28 If the past offered any guide, racial s the ever becoming a part of the integrated city. Six years earlier, the Birmingham Downtown Improvement Association formed the Citizens for Merger Committee (CMC) to manage a campaign to annex B Brook and Homewood. Mayor Jimmie Morgan, the two daily newspapers, the local trade unions, and residents in both city and suburb supported the merger which appeared on the ba llot in the fall of 1958. To advocate annexation to suburbanites, the CMC highlighted the growing city suburb disparities and circulated a letter from Atlanta Mayor William Hartsfie ld which centered on the positive effects of the 1952 annexation of Buckhead. 29 One local proponent estimated that seventy business leaders lived in Homewood or Mountain Brook, making double and even triple the income of city resi filled one the 28 Vann Editorial, Birmingham News, Vann Papers, Collection 113, Box 6, File 2, BPLAD. 29 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham 101.
185 30 Conversely, the suburban proponents of annexation wanted to expand their control over city matters and and working class whi tes from electoral control. 31 The fate of both city and suburb were inextricably tied, argued the CMC. Many white parents in Mountain Brook and Homewood, however, cared less about the financial health of the city than about the racial composition of thei r parks and schools. Even as suburban proponents of annexation attempted to skirt the issue of racial integration by proposing plans to keep the school districts se parate, opponents 32 merger organization, used advertisements and mailings to argue that integration would certainly follow annexation. Chaired by Richard Stockham, president of the large industrial complex, Stockham Valves and Fittings, the CIC scared suburbanites away from annexation. In 1959, in both Homewood and Mountain Brook, voters turned out en masse and overwhelmingly blocked the merger. Over three voter s went to the polls, voting 2,350 to 1,492 to remain above and apart from Birmingham. City residents felt spurned. 33 The power of men in Mountain Brook and 30 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham 101; Lawrence McNeil to City Council member, 10 July 1964, Siebels Papers, Collection 273, Box 1, File 6, BPLAD. 31 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham 102. 32 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham, 101. 33 Birmingham News 13 May 1959.
186 Homewood continued to be a source of resentment for many in Birmingham, resulting in opposition to city appointments for suburban men. Lawrence McNeil, a real estate agent the s; to appoint men who lived over the mountain, McNeil wrote, d belittles the dignity of our city council by making its members look like errand boys for wealthy non 34 the ballot. Following the terrible violence of 1963 and the purported stance of the suburban, upper and middle class men concerning racial compromise, Mountain Brook and Homewood reconsidered annexation. The merger promised to secure political power for suburban moderates to steer the city away from its troubl ed past and revitalize the downtown upon which they were financially dependent. The national st fight advancing physical decay and increasing squalor . the notion that the city can 35 Birmingham needed Mountain Brook, Homewood, and Vestavia Hills to become a part of the city. Increasi ngly, white collar moderates who lived in city and suburbs advocated acceptance of federal legislation, both school desegregation and observance of the urged government and pri 34 Lawrence McNeil to City Council members, 10 July 1964, Siebels Papers, Collection 273, Box 1, File 6. 35 Time Magazine 4 March 1966
187 36 the Mountain Brook r esidents scrambled to keep separate school districts should the a separa te school system in the event of annexation. After two years of work, representatives of Birmingham a nd Mountain Brook had a plan to merge suburb with city with the understanding that the schools would remain separate, 37 Although merger advocates simultaneously tried to negotiate separate school districts for the suburban municipalities, they also spoke frankly about the fact that integration not, the civil rights bill is the la w and one would be like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand to dream and hope that there will be no more intrusions. No county school, whether in Homewood or elsewhere, is immune to the 1954 Supreme Court 38 Birm inevitability of integration. On August 16, 1964, the United Americans for Conservative Government 36 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham 125 37 Collection 273, Box 7, File 25, BPLAD. 38 Papers, Collection 273, Box 7, File 25, BPLAD.
188 merger our segrega 39 In 1964 and 1971, white suburbanite s voted against annexation. The presumptuous power of the suburban inessmen, exace rbated the distrust between t he poor and wealthy whites in Jefferson County. 40 Suburban men pushed for integration, refused to participate in it, and then blamed the poor for resisting progress, which provided middle and upper class whites with a reason to intervene in and direct city politics. Describing this phenomenon, southern class racial sentiment worked hand in 41 Throughout the 1960s, the middle and upper class suburbanit es around Birmingham laude d racial progress, hired public relations professionals make sure that everyone recognized that they were As black children integrated par ks and schools in Birmingham, the division between city and suburb grew ever more racialized. After the wealthier suburbanites refused to cast their lot with the city, working class whites began to move out of Birmingham, reversing the migration that took place just two decades before. Working class and lower class suburbs such as Fultondale, Gardendale, and Pleasant Groves grew sma ller and blacker. 39 Government, Ham ilton Papers, Collection 265, Box 4, File 10, BPLAD. 40 Lawrence McNeil to City Council members, 10 July 1964, Siebels Papers, Collection 273, Box 1, File 6. 41 Sokol, There Goes My Everything, 308.
189 Between 1963 and 1973, Bir mingham integrated the police force, the city council, the schools, the parks, a nd the neighborhoods. During this period, Mountain Brook, racial imperatives while publicly and proudly encouraging peaceful integration for those so compelled. The easing of racial tensions and the lowest property taxes in the nation encouraged new investments to the city in the form of banking and insurance industries, as well as the growth of the University of Alabama in Birmingham and its medical center. 42 coal and iron industry dwindled in the 1960s due to the growing preference for cheap Venezuelan, Japanese, and Germa Sheffield Steel and Iron Company, one of the largest pig iron producers in the world, closed its doors in 1971. furnaces in 1973. 43 The city had begun to rust. Blue C ollar Exodus By the early 1970s Birmingham was no longer a blue collar town. Instead, the Magic City was in the middle of a transition from a steel economy to a service economy; a change which grew the number of white collar jobs for men and new, supportive staff positions for women that included secretarial work in offices and banks and nursing positions at the medical center. Working class blacks left the mines and mills to find employment in domestic and custodial labor essentia l to the new service economy. 44 42 Scribner, Renewing Birmingham Chapter Five. 43 Judith Stein, Running Steel, Running America: Race, Economic Policy and the Decline of Liberalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1998). 44 US Census, Selected Characteristics of Persons and Families by Residence in Census Tracts with a Povert y Rate of 20 Percent or More: 1970. Table A 1, 3.
190 However, blue collar white workers with little more than a high school diploma were left mines and mills. Whites who came to Birming ham from the hills of Appalachia in the 1940s and 1950s packed up their belongings in the 1960s and moved away from the city and into smaller towns nearby such as Midfield and Fultondale. Between 1960 and 1970, 45 A voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1956 had, by 1964, forsaken the Democratic Party. An anti statist sentiment took root among Birm overpowered by the larger forces of a changing nation. Throughout the 1960s, employers forced them out of their jobs, federal officials forced them to integrate, and suburban businessmen forced them to comply; without jobs and waning political influence, working white men were left without a foothold to fight back. As a result, they left. Between 1960 and 1970, thousands of blue collar workers moved out of Birmingham to find jobs as well as whiter neighborhoods. Many poorer whites abandoned the city just as wealthier whites fought to remain apart from it. Those white residents who remained within the city limits actively carved out white spaces even as they became the racial minority. Securing Cu ltural Boundaries James Baldwin commented on the funct ion of black stereotypes in the twentieth century 45 New York Times, 5 July 1970, 30.
191 46 James Mc Bride 47 In the age of integration, whites black counterparts in the city. In the first half of the twentieth century, white southerners, such as the Durrs, understood racial difference in terms of both biology and morality. Physical and social distance perpetuated the lie. But with integration and a new era of racial politics, white southerners used issues of sexual morality as a wedge to keep white over black. The historiography of the civil rights movement demonstrates that the black freedom struggle pushed whites into suburbia and served as a ca talyst for a new fangled Republican Party, one which accommodated racist whites. Racial integration, however, also influenced sexual prescriptions for whites. In 1964, whites in Birmingham initiated a morality crusade to secure the boundaries of white supr emacy through cultural prescriptions as the barr iers of segregation fell away. Although the fusion of race and sexual morality is a well documented and explored southern tendency, its place in southern politics beyond the 1950s has not garnered much histor ical attention. Moral panics, according to sociologists Howard Becker and Orrin Klapp, reflect a takes 48 The function of mor al panics or crusade s is Janus faced : the first pur pose is to establish clear rules for individuals within a society; the second is to 46 James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (New York: Vintage, 1963), 11. 47 Dabbs, Southern Heritage 158. 48 Howa rd Becker, Outsiders (New York: The Free Press, 1963); Orrin Klapp, Collective Search for Identity (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969).
192 jettison them to the periphery of society 49 The timing and the behavior of social anxiety reveal both the internal targets of the panic, as well as the people pinpointed as outsiders by the emergent moral order. 50 The moral crusade in Birmingham took place just as public facilities in the city desegregated. The fear of slackened sexual morality as evidenced by prostitution, pornography, and a loosening of sexual attitudes in films the legal order of segregation fell away. 51 Although whites in Birmingham in the middle of the twentieth century leaned toward social conservatism, the liberalization of the race issue effected a hard right turn ial provoked uproar from the public and concrete action on the part of local and state subject material should be understood in the context of racial integration for two and political leaders an entre back onto a platform of public moral righteousness, a stage diminished by the 1961 Freedom Rides and virtually nonexistent in the wake of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Men, who just months earlier had been roundly 49 Edwin Schur, The Politics of Deviance (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1980). 50 Nachman Ben The Sociological Quarterly 27, No. 4 (Winter, 1986): 495 513 51 WRBC Editorial, Voice of the People editorial in Birmingham News 10 November 1965; Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 2 File 31.
193 co ndemned for the atrocities in their city, used issues of morality and decency as a path home to southern indignation. Arguably, however, there was more to the battle against indecency than just political opportunity and the second reason points to a funda mental quality of southern white culture in the middle of the twentieth century the belief in the superiority of white cultural norms. With the dismantling of overt white supremacy, white men and women searched for means of social control over their own. The campaigns in Birmingham against moral turpitude were led by whites; whites spied on and reported indecent activity and the sale of indecent movies, literature, and magazines, white men talked on the radio about issues of morality and it was white men in city hall and in the state congress who eventually passed laws to restrict pornography in books and on the big screen. 52 Most importantly, however, all of the targets of the campaign to purify the city wered between 1963 and 1967, the same years in Birmingham in which white schools, restaurants, theaters, parks, and playground were forced to admit blacks. The simultaneity of racial integration and the campaign to secure a racial hierarchy through moral prescriptions, what one white 53 The most prominent link between white supremacists and moral crusaders can be found 52 Although moral reform in the nineteenth century and twentieth century was most often the purview of women, in Birmingham, white men conceived of the crisis, organized the clubs and boards to address it, and passed it along to the state legisla tors man to man. Few accounts of women doing much more than writing letters of support are undocumented. 53 8, File 1, BPLAD.
194 congregation of Highland Methodist Church. Using the members of the Methodist the same group of men advocated white supremacy in 1959 and, again, in 1964. The comparison suggests how white leaders in Birmingham, by 1964, couched racial superiority in terms of morality. Southern attitudes justifying the racial order evolved across the twentieth century, f rom inferior biology to inferior culture; whites ascribed loose sexual mores and violence to southern, African Americans. The men of the MLU integration come, were, by 1964, on a morality crusade that pinpointed only whites. 54 Powerful industrialists such as Richard Stockham and Perry Tarrant, state legislator Lawrence Dumas, and city councilman M.E. Wiggins led the MLU. As discussed in Chapter Two, these men took part in and authored the 1959 1959, gham Circuit Judge Whit Windham, argued that while the 55 In front of the wealthy members of Highlands Methodist, MLU leaders insisted that segregation was the only 54 In recent years, southern histo rians have begun to explore the ways in which the civil rights movement transformed the white community. For the most part, these works have dealt with the growth of suburbia and the Republican Party. The works listed are just some of the important books a nd articles that deal with this transformation. Kari Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932 1968 Before Brown: Civil Rights and White Backlash in the Modern South (Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2004); Kruse, White Flight; Lassiter, The Silent Majority ; Crespino In Search of Another Country. The model that I use in this project has been used to explore how sex structures race and class relations comes from the colonial studies of Ann Stole r, Century American Ethnologist Vol. 16, Issue 4 (1989): 634 660. 55 113, Box 8, File 1, BPLAD.
195 In 1959, the MLU warned that integration specifically, racial mixing promised to of blackness. In 1959, MLU members Dumas, Wiggins, Stockham, and Tarrant publicly and explicitly argued for the moral supremacy of whites. Days after the church bombing in 1963 the Official Board of the First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Birmingham released a statement that echoed the M common law marriages, illegitimacy, venereal diseases; the low moral standards as compared to those of the white race makes mixing not only distasteful but 56 Intermarriage, according to the stateme nt will be the natural result of black female at the University of Georgia and a white student. Racial fears continued to be expressed through the discourse of sex and moral purity. 57 B y 1964 crowds and peddle the malignancy of blackness. With a new mayor and city council in pas t and move into a new era of interracial cooperation. But while public displays of biracialism increased throughout the 1960s in Birmingham, the underlying assumptions of white supremacy remained. Throughout the decade, as desegregation occurred across Bir 56 Statement of the First Pentecostal Holiness Church, Birmingham, Alabama, 29 September 1963. Hamilton Papers, Collection 265, Box 4, File 10, BPLAD. 57 Statement of the First Pentecostal Holiness Church, Birmingham, Alabama, 29 September 1963.
196 federal government compelled Birmingham to integrate parks and schools, former city. White supr emacy was at the root of this campaign. 58 area in 1964, surveyors found that while there were very few brothels in the city except for those in the black sections of town (which were henceforth dropped in the municipal investigation), bellboys at nice, local hotels could provide you with names, numbers, and prices for a variety of white prostitutes based on physical descriptions and available services. One historic hotel, the Red mont, according to the survey, had two rooms for rent which came with a blond or brunette prostitute waiting inside rooms on the third floor, according to the survey. 59 city council placed the tighteni agenda and the local police promised to keep an eye on the sites where white prostitutes worked. City council and the all white police force addressed only the sex trade which took place in the whi te corners of Birmingham and left the brothels in the black community alone. 60 The crusade to improve the moral climate of Birmingham followed the pattern laid out by the campaign to address prostitution in the city an overarching concern with exposure to indecencies in the white areas of the city and suburb coupled with neglect of exposure in the black community. 58 C.E. Overton, Letter to the Editor of the Birmingham News 4 January 1967, Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 7, File 49, BPLAD. 59 Papers, Collection 273, Box 1, Folder 2. BPLAD 60 African American sections of town a regular complaint from black citizens in Birmingham is that the po lice received kick backs from these establishments, Connor Papers, Collection 268, BPLAD.
197 The fear of slackened sexual standards among whites in Birmingham propelled the campaign for 61 Prostitution, po rnography, or any magazine, book, or film that depicted or condoned sex outside of marriage fell under attack between 1965 and 1966. Councilmember George Siebels, who would later up businessman Crawford George, Citizens for books and magazines while threatening to prosecute vendors for buying pornography carried across state lines, a federal offense according to George. Prostitution and pornography were not the only taboos in Birmingh am. Race also played an role in the The Alabama Baptist Another Country 62 affair between an African American prostitute and a white man. 63 By 1966, threats and actual policy. Party and Citizens for Decent Literature. In the spring of 1965, Police Chief Jamie Moore and City Council members George Siebels and Eleazer C. Overton inquired into 61 Mrs. James Sizemore to Seibels expressing support for the Citizens for Decent Literature, 29 March 1965, Siebels Papers, Collection 273, Box 5, File 9; 10 May 1964 ASRA Papers, BPLAD 62 Obscene Literature clippings and notes, Overton Papers, Collection 267, Folder 4, File 20, BPLAD. 63
198 the possibility of prosecuting certain downtown book stores and magazine stands which we re reportedly selling pornographic literature and magazines. Overton warned that the 64 members an d the police of different locations in which pornography could be purchased. Mayor Boutwell, Chief Moore, and city council members received piles of obscene cards, books, and magazines with the listed location of the stand or store from where it came. One Overton conferred a bout the September 1964 issue of Playboy and came to the joint magazines and brought them home to sh radius in the downtown and entirely white business district. 65 W population and municipal government to literature on the street, council members were frustrated because Birmingham did not have any 66 64 Folder 4, File 20, BPLAD. 65 C.E. George to Mayor Boutwell, Chairman of Citizens for Decent Literature, 23 April 1965, Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 2, File 30; M.E. Wiggins to Seibels, undated ,Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 2, File 30; Seibels to Mayor Boutwell, 21 September 1965, Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 2, File 30, BPLAD 66 M.E. Wiggins to Seibels, Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 8, File 29, BPLAD.
199 Councilmember Overton resolved to fix this and in the fall of 1965, he introduced two p ob into the city, Overton proposed a review b youth again Representative F oster Etheridge commend ed the legislativ e committee and get them passed. Another Alabama congressman from Birmingham, Representative Don Collins, introduced two bills to the state legislature 67 The Catholic Weekly urged Catholics, who had heret ofore not been identified as a group in favor of the anti obscenity laws, to 68 Citizens for De cent Literature. The Supreme Knight, John W. McDevitt, defended his threatened the 69 In May of 1965, Mayor Boutwell wrote 67 Buck Etheridge to Davenport Smith, 4 June 1965, Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 2, File 30, BPLAD. 68 2, File 28. 69
200 70 the watchful eye of both the citizenry and the law. In a WRBC editorial, radioman Smith watch o heartened by the new push against the sale of pornographic material in our area in 71 leaders claim 72 Department, and the Birmingham City Council pushed for the Jefferson County Movie Review Law b ut the law was held up in the Alabama Supreme Court. While the city 2, days, the Jefferson C ounty News Company sent a letter to all of its vendors to let them 73 70 Mrs. Lynn Kirk to William Hamilton, assistant to Mayor Boutwell, 5 May 1965, Hamilton Papers, Collection 269, Box 3, File 19. 71 Collect ion 273, Box 2, File 30. 72 File 29. 73 WRBC Editorial, Voice of the People editorial in Birmingham News 16 August 1965; Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 2, File 30; Buck Etheridge to Davenport Smith, 4 June 1965, Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 2, File 30; The Catholic Weekly tion 273, Box 2, File 29.
201 to create a movie rev Dumas sat on the board under the leadership of Councilman Overton. Mayor Boutwell attended the first meeting 74 Rather than accepting movie ratings from the Catholic Weekly or the PTA Magazine 1966 to screen films before they op ened in local theaters. Overton and his men were the first in the city to watch Sex and the Single Girl, Sex Kitten Goes to College, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, Satan in High Heels, Return from the Ashes, Some Like it Hot, The Sandpiper and many other film 75 This campaign was not just about sex: it was also about white supremacy. While Birming not to publicly discuss their ideas pertaining to black immorality as they had in 1959 at Highlands Methodist the fears regarding racial rooted in private fears about integration. Medical doctors and psychologists buoyed the urgency to addres s issues of morality explicitly and the dangers of integration, implicitly. American Medical Association which discussed the almost 800 percent increase in venereal diseases in urban areas which sprung from t 74 Minutes of Movie Review Board Meetings, 1965 1966, Movie Review Board Papers, Collection 38, Folders 1, File 1. 75 Minutes of Movie Review Board Meetings, 1965 1966, Movie Review Board Papers, Collection 38, Folders 1 2, all fi les.
202 misconceptions held by people in the state who clun g to the belief that everyone is equal and should therefore have equal rights this, according to Stanton, was People are not equal in health, strength, or the d egradation of Alaba according to the was evident mass demonstrations local psychologist to pin moral decay on southern blacks. 76 T he fight against indecency became a deliberately public fight. Council members wrote letters to the editor of the Birmingham News and appeared on the radio and TV to make known their moral cleansing campaigns. In a long letter to the News, councilman Overt 77 By 1965, city officials had dropped the push to bind blackness with sexual immorality, a s decency in the city employed a southern rhetoric of morality which had always been used to delineate race. possible, News. 78 In the wake of desegregation of schools, parks, and playgrounds, constructions of white and black could no longer be marked by space. 76 WRBC Editorial, Voice of the People editorial in Birmingham News 10 November 1965; Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box 2, File 31. 77 C.E. Overton, Letter to the Editor of the Birmingham News 4 January 1967, Seibels Papers, Collection 273, Box, F ile 49. 78 James Hublen, Letter to the Editor of the Birmingham News, 2 April 1965.
203 White men in Birmingham drew upon notions of racialized sexual morality in the 1940s to jus tify the racial order and in the 1950s as a means to combat integration. By the 1960s, the same white men sought to secure racial boundaries through the campaign for public morality. In fact, it was the exact same group of men including Lawrence Dumas, Per ry Tarrant, Richard Stockham, and M. Edwin Wiggins. Wiggins, a Pronouncement which declared the moral purity of whiteness, served as a city council member in 1965 and helped lead the charge against the declining morality of Birmingham he was one of the council members distressed by the September 1964 issue of Playboy That the same handful of men who pushed for segregation based on ideas of the cultural inferiority of blacks in the 1950s took up the fight for decency in the 1960s underlines the broader phenomenon of securing racial boundaries through a crusade for collective behavior. previously mentioned, had two causes: a need for a new political platfor m for men violence and it was rooted in white fears that integration could lead to the moral degradation of their community. More notably, however, the campaign for public morality had two important effects. The first was one of discourse. Men on the radio and TV, newspapermen, and white politicians, through cries for decency, created a new way to couch ideas of racial superiority into a racially neutral language of sexual morality. But there was another, more concrete, effect which had little to do with how whites thought about or wanted to think about the black community. Instead, the campaign actually had less to do with how whites thought about blacks and more to do
204 with how whites in Birmingham thought about themselves. Between 1963 and 1967, icians put white prostitutes out of business, reduced the incidence of Biology, then, wa s no longer enough to keep white over black. By the 1960s, whites attempted to hem in the purported supremacy of their race through a public campaign for stringent sexual standards among their own. 79 With the morality campaigns, Protestant probity would sta nd in to keep white over black. Under the mantle of decency sense of Christian uprightness in private matters. h en There is Birmingham . a Region of the M ind The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church demanded explanation in ways that most racial crimes in the South had not. It was, according to men such as Charles Morgan, not just another injustice but rather the culmination of all other inequities, both the quiet degradations of Jim Crow as well as the shrill and violent expressions of fear and hatreds which characterized and directed life in the city. 80 Americans living outside of Jones Valley grappled with the crime and the dark character of Birming an entity of its own, a region of the Time Magazine reporter. 81 In response to the murders, Alabamians and reporters attempted to explain how such a crime could take place. University of 79 The Journal of American History (2001): 829 865. 80 Charles Morgan, A Time to Speak, 16. 81 Time Magazine 27 September 1963, 27 29.
205 Alabama philosophy 82 explanation in September 196 3 was a minority view, however. From the White House to the halls of Congress, from the Chicago Daily Defender to the New York Times not one politician or reporter reiterated this opinion. By the close of the 1960s, however, me the standard narrative for how the city would come to understand the crimes of 1963 and how Birmingham would project its past to the rest of the nation. In the following years, white children from integr ation while simultaneously creating an image of racial progress. To maintain segregation in their neighborhood and churches, they argued for the moral superiority of whites. To substantiate their claim to moderation, they distanced themselves from overt ex pressions of racism which could still be found in Birmingham. 1967, the exact same men foug ht a crusade to protect their children from moral degradation, a historically racialized discourse but by the later 1960s, the historical context was implied. In 1958, white men and women in suburbia voted against annexation to avoid racial integration. In 1964, whites in Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Homewood made the same choice for the same reason. The underlying 82 Time Magazine 27 September 1963, 27 29.
206 express racial anxieties through matters of sexual con trol and morality. The gendered impulses of s outhern racism persisted Although white leaders in Birmingham urged compliance with court ordered integration, better white manhood, as symbolized by s, proved to be a myth. Conclusion The resolve of southern blacks and federal legislation made it im possible for whites to halt the movement for civil rights. Restaurants, parks, busses, municipal employment, and schools across the South opened their doo rs to people of both races. Southern whites surrendered J im Crow piecemeal however, and only certain asp ects of white supremacy disappeared over the course of the 1960s Instead, wealthy, white male control over the most private aspects of southern life c ontinued, quietly and completely. Throughout the 1960s, white men of means in Birmingham kept their churches, who lived in the suburbs and the affluent Southside of Bir mingham perpetuated a discourse that fused slackened sexual morality and poor hygiene with black southerners to justify continued residential and social apartheid. Public discussions of venereal diseases, loosened sexual mores, and out of wedlock births a African Americans afforded white men the right to regulate the racial customs of their wives and children. 83 By impressing the vulgar on racialized bodies, white men attempted to discipline desire in the age of integration. 84 83 Dabbs, Southern Heritage 158. 84 This concept, termed bio 829 865, in which she argues that a hierarchy of gender prescriptions helped the colonizer to order colonial relationships.
207 After 1963, and desegregate public facilities, as necessary. Behind closed doors, however, Mayor Boutwell, City Council members, and well to do citizens tried to preserve segregation in the lives of the ir wives and their children. 85 Whereas integrated boardrooms, golf courses, and business lunches passed without comment in the 1960s, spaces for women and children: church socials, schools, and neighborhoods remained spaces of contest. White men fought to preserve their roles as the arbiters of social customs; taking upon themselves the burden of self regulation while regulating interracial contact for their wives and children. The male chauvinism manifest in southern, white supremacy could not be dismantle d by the civil rights movement alone. This hypocrisy affected the lives of southerners both politically and personally. Two years after the church bombing, Paul Good visited Birmingham and found some in the city. Integration of public city 86 rationale of superiority which had always supported Jim Crow remained largely intact. 87 In addition to white flight and the expansion of the black ghetto in the 1960s, the disjuncture between the words and deeds of Birming s in this era profoundly affects how we understand the end of the Movement. Moderate 85 Male spaces: boardrooms, golf courses, political meeting rooms integrated without comment, but neighborhoods, schools, churches, spaces for both women and children, remained places of contest. Racial segregation was imposed upon white women and children but not white men. 86 Paul Reporter 2 December 1965, 21 27. 87 Newsweek, 11 December 1964, 124.
208 businessmen did not help bring about a peaceful end to white supremacy. Instead, men like Albert Boutwell and Richard Stockham muted southern racism, recognizing what a perhaps even a need to 88 church and neighborhood campaign s fo The tendrils of racism rooted in the body w ere not so easily relinquished and the ongoing fight against miscegenation, the southern bte noir, survived the Movement. Whites in Birmingham, much l ike their mayor, abandoned the public campaign fo r segregation and began to work on a local, more personal level. Integration was inevitable; a ll Alabamians knew this by 1964. But it was not inevitable everywhere wealthier whites in Birmingham set about making sure that their specific neighborhoods an black children and black culture. In the suburbs, the well to do fought annexation to avoid school desegregation while whites within the city worked to secure racial boundaries in the social lives of their yo ung; anxieties of racial purity continued to be played out white women and girls, and young white men. Southern, white manhood had not shed its racist constructions. 89 88 Newsweek, 11 December 1964, 124. 89
209 CONCLUSION New York Times whites in the city to feel immune to social changes in the rest of the nation. The southern 90 In many ways, Reston was right. Birmingham was not a typical southern city. Moneyed men founded the city after the Civil War and more European immigrants and northerners lived in Birmingham than in any other town or city in the Deep South. In the first half of the twentieth century, working men in Birmingham possessed a working class consciousness unparalleled in the region which was nu rtured by the absolute exploitation by their northern investors and wealthy overseers, as well as by the intimate organization of the company neighborhoods. It was not, however, a satellite city from the North. Extreme poverty, the large percentage of bla cks, Jim Crow, and the evangelical culture of Birmingham tightly bound the city to its region. The easiest generalization about Birmingham in the twentieth century could be that it was a city of extremes. Until the rise of the University of Alabama in B irmingham city on an economic brink. Insecurity, powerlessness, poverty, and resentment characterized the lives of many residents whose livelihoods were at the whim of the c 90 New York Times, 20 September 1963.
210 saying, an accurate depiction of life in Birmingham during both the Great Depression and the jagged transformation from an industrial economy to a service economy in the cit y. 91 Not everyone in Jefferson County struggled, however. Mountain Brook, one of the wealthiest cities in America, stood in sharp contrast to the city below. Tudor style club hid mockingly behind a dense forest on the rise of Red Mountain as men and women in Jones Valley lived, work, and died under the industrial haze. For most of the twentieth century, however, the chasm between the between the working class in the city and the middle and upper rise and in the suburbs was not enough to keep whites from working collectively for segregatio n. In recent years, southern historians have turned a keen eye toward the underlying principles of devout white resistance. The psychological, political, and segregation as well a rn caste system. Glenn Feldman, Robert Norrell, and Robert Ingalls have each argued that the abstract allure of racial privilege supplanted the concrete advantages of class solidarity in Alabama from the Great Depression t o Massive Resistance. 92 Alabama communists, the UMWA, and the SWOC each gained a powerful foothold in the Deep South state, only to lose it in the aftermath of WWII in a flurry of Cold War and white supremacist rhetoric. In the 1940s and 1950s, southern whi te workers turned away from interracial cooperation to protect 91 Robert Corley, interview with Heather Bryson, 12 March 2010. 92 Feldman, Glenn. From Demagogue to Dixiecrat: Horace Wilkinson and the Politics of Race and The Disfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama in Birmingham
211 the social and economic privileges of whiteness in the twentieth century. Racial supremacy kept white men above black men, both in the workplace and southern society. 93 Wealthy whites benefitt ed from a divided working class, as well, although the benefits were more substantive. 94 Southern elites used the dilemma of race to exploit the laboring class and garner votes on Election Day. But while the myth of the South is a society of haves and have nots, by the 1950s, middle class whites increasingly peopled the urban South. In Birmingham, businessmen, lawyers, and those that occupied the higher ranks in the industrial order fell into line with the Big Mules. M assive resistance ameliorated, rather t han exacerbated, class divisions in Birmingham By situating white backlash into the gendered context of the twentieth century, we can begin to unde rstand why the appeal of resistance a movement bent on white, male supremacy, crossed class lines. 95 In Bir mingham, the inferior place of African Americans, the submission of white youth, and the subservient role of women were each implicated in the status of white men in the middle of the twentieth century, regardless of social standing. The breakdown of tradi tional hierarchies and the loss of autonomy caused by the field to 93 Michelle Brattain, The Politics of Whiteness: Race, Workers, and Culture in the Modern South (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). 94 Numan V. Bartley, The Rise of Massive Resistance: Race and Politics in the South during the 1950s (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 1997), Carl Grafton and Anne Permaloff, Big Mules and Branchheads: James E. Folsom and Political Power in Alabama (Athens: University of Georg ia Press, 1985). 95 Philip Wylie, "The Abdicating Male and How the Gray Flannel Mind Exploits Him through His Women," Playboy, 3 November 1956, 23 24 50, Cold War Political Culture and the Crisis in American Masculinity, 1949 Journal of American History 87 Vol 2 (September 200) 515 545, p. 515.
212 gender identities in society and at home. White supremacy and Christianity became overlapping social system s in the South and stood as stalwart defenders of traditional gender and race relations among whites. Throughout the tumult of the civil rights era, white men performed white, male supremacy by castrating black men, turning fire hoses on demonstrators, and rallying for segregated schools in the name of women and the young. Enacting the Boswell Amendment, creating and campaigning for the Pupil Placement Act, fighting annexation, and lecturing on the cultural cleanliness of white southerners were also perform ances of white, male supremacy. The social positioning of men has always been associated with sexual and political (or racial) power. In the middle of the twentieth century, white southern men fought against the dislocation of each. Although blue collar whites used ideas of racial supremacy to safeguard privilege and status on the shop floor and the larger society while their white collar counterparts behooves us to un derstand the shared ways in which all white men benefited from the societal control implicit within the southern caste system. Only when we clearly children, as well as African Am ericans, will we be able to finally move beyond the dangerous notion that southern racism in the twentieth century was the provenance of poor whites.
213 LIST OF REFERENCES Archival and Manuscript Sources Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham, Al abama Birmingham Oral History Project Papers Carnegie Myrdal Study Papers Donald and Lore Rasmussen Papers Birmingham Public Library Archives Department, Birmingham, Alabama Alabama Coal Miners Papers Birmingham City Council Papers Albert Boutwell Papers Asa Carter Papers Cooper Green Papers William Hamilton Papers Arthur Hanes Papers Jefferson County Review Board Papers Burke Marsha ll Papers Charles Morgan Papers C.E. Overton Papers George Seibels Papers Tony Underwood Papers United Mine Workers of America Papers David Vann Papers Work ing: Changing Role of Women Collection King Center, Atlanta, Georgia Fred Shuttle s worth Papers Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin Mike Wallace Interview Papers
2 14 William Stanley Hoole Special Collections, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa Senator John Sparkman Papers Senator Lister Hill Papers Oral History Project Papers ORAL HISTORIES Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Rasmussen Collection Dick Allison George Brown Jerome Cooper Nancy Huddleston Ed McGraw Luther Patrick Waights Taylor Harvey White Jim Williamson Eleen Wynn Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham Oral History Project Lillian Douglas Barbara Green James Head Carrie Hamilton Lock Eula McGill Nina Miglianico Charles Morgan, Jr. Ruth Barefield Pendleton Joseph Lewis Rogers Jessie Shepherd Fred Shuttlesworth Eloise Staples Lamar Weaver University of Alabama at Birmingham, William Stanley Hoole Special Collections H attie Adolphus Ruth Bruner Margaret Burnett Nina Miglianico
215 University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa John Altman C.E. Hornsby Jim Oakley Charles Rice Bruce West Personal Interviews and Correspondence Douglas Carpenter Ira Chaffin Sheila Chaffin Robert Corley Reverend Kevin Higgs Reverend Lawton Higgs Liz Reed Newspapers, Magazines, and Periodicals Alabama Lawyer Alabama: News Magazine of the Deep South Birmingham News Birmingham Post Herald Birmingham World Bull Ladle: Stockham Valves and Fittings Business Week Chicago Daily Tribune Chicago Defender Christian Science Monitor Dallas News Ebony Montgomery Advertiser New Republic New York Times Newsweek The Saturday Evening Post The Southerner: News of the White Citizens Council Time Magazine True Magazine People and Pipe: Fifty Years of Pipe Progress at ACIPCO Wall Street Journal Washington Post
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234 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Heather Brys on was born in 1977 in Winter Park, Florida to Kim and Dennis Bryson. She grew up in Winter Park with her parents, her older sister, Bridget, and her younger bro istory from Loyola University in New Orleans in 2000. Returning home t o Winter Park, Heather taught hi story at a local middle school for four years. In 2005, she moved to Gainesville, Florida to begin graduate school at the University of Florida. In 2008, Heather earned h graduated with her doctorate in U.S. h istory in August of 2011. She currently lives happily with her son, Sam, and daughter, Eloise, in a neat, old house in High Springs.