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((( ⚛️ Cajsa ⚛️ ))) @Cajsa
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So I started rereading this today and plan to slowly work my way through it with you.
The picture is the cover of "Mothers of Massive Resistance" by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae
The introduction explains the rationale for the book and its organizing themes. McRae describes the conventional history of the Massive Resistance, the fight to preserve segregation and the Jim Crow South. Generally, it's perceived as a reaction to Federal decisions, led by
2/ politicians and businessmen, and very much Southern, and eventually something that faded away. McRae challenges that conception by focusing on the women who put "the mass in massive resistance."
3/ "This book is about that story— the story of grassroots resistance to racial equality undertaken by white women. They are at the center of the history of white supremacist politics in the South and nation."
4/ McRae focuses her attention on four specific women whose examples refute our ideas of how early this began, who were the drivers or resistance, and how much more national than regional massive resistance was.
5/ The women are Nell Battle Lewis, Florence Sillers Ogden, Mary Dawson Cain, and Cornelia Dabney Tucker. Other women will be also included, but these four left a lot of correspondence and were exemplars of the Massive Resistance.
6/ Nell Battle Lewis was a reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer. She was a progressive Democrat who was a linchpin in North Carolina's fight against racial equality. (This might be a good time to remind folks that the original Progressive movement was deeply racist.)
7/ Florence Sillers Ogden was one of the plantation elite in Mississippi. She also wrote for newspapers, a column titled "Dis and Dat" & founded the Women for Constitutional Government, a pro-segregation, anti-UN, anti-Communist, anti-fluoridation national organization
8/ Mary Dawson Cain owned a local paper, the Summit Sun, and used it to push her pro-segregationist message. She worked with people from around the country to oppose prohibition, fight Social Security, and of course, defend segregation.
9/ Cornelia Dabney Tucker was inspired to political activism in opposition to FDR's court-packing plan. Her main mission though was to make the South Republican and the Republican Party Lily White (capitalized because the Lily White Republicans were a real thing.)
10/ These women will be studied at length. This is just the introduction which seeks to demonstrate that Massive Resistance was led by women who fought integration and civil rights in four areas. social welfare policy, education, electoral politics, and popular culture.
11/ Why does this matter? By focusing on the top-down legal civil rights laws and decisions, we miss the sub rosa organizing of massive resistance. How can you fight an opposition you don't know is organizing against you? It also absolves women of their complicity, as though
12/ racism is something they get from their husbands, not something they practice on their own, yet women acting in the public sphere have tremendous influence over schools, textbooks, etc.
13/ So what does knowing women's involvement in the Massive Resistance accomplish? 1) White women’s work exposes massive support for racial segregation that began long before Brown and stretches past its legislative dismantling in the 1960s–not a reaction, a long steady movement
14/ The grassroots organizing of white segregationist women becomes part & parcel of the 20th-century political mobilization of women, linking massive resistance to political movements beyond the South’s geographic boundaries. This shows it is not a regional, but national shame
15/ By looking at white segregationist women over half a century, this story exposes the endurance and shapeshifting capabilities of white resistance. We know very well it's not been defeated, though the CW sees the CRM as the end of Jim Crow.
16/ We see these Southern segregationist women experimenting and finding language that presents segregationist goals in color-blind language and discover common tropes that excuse and perpetuate injustice.
17/ "For too long, focusing on a narrow definition of massive resistance has left the nation ill-equipped to recognize the power of its grassroots persistence."
McRae goes on to describe the various parts of the book and chapter topics.
18/ Part I told in four chapters examines the interwar period where the work of white segregationist women was shaped by more discrete, local or state efforts. Most people felt Jim Crow was secure and the women of massive resistance were most concerned about apathy.
19/ The 4 chapters of Part I look at how women enforced while supremacy by policing the color line, determining what was taught in school, partisan organizing, and cultural stories and stereotypes they pushed.
20/ Part II has four chapters as well in the post WW2 years where the national consensus on segregation was beginning to be overthrown. White segregationist women focused on what they perceived to be the four big threats to their segregationist society.
21/ The threats were the changes in the Democratic Party, their fear of an invasive United Nations, an interventionist Supreme Court, and the mobilization of Black Southerners and the CRM
22/ Segregationists drew on a democratic politics that upheld white supremacy in various forms, denied black Americans equal opportunity, & invoked constructions of race to order society. Segregationist defines people who adhere to policies and politics that further that agenda
23/ Segregationists can be progressive, conservative, Southern or Northern - we must separate the term from just white conservative Southerners if we want to be smarter opposing them
24/ By thinking of segregationists as a Southern movement we make it hard to understand how This intellectual segregation has made it harder to understand how white supremacist politics renews itself and infect community after community
25/ Cain, Ogden, Tucker, Lewis, and others cultivated national networks and connections. These connections persisted and spread through the nation, but did not erase the regional character of segregationists
26/ They knew "white supremacist politics enacted on a local level—in school board decisions, in teacher training, in bureaucratic categorizations, in public welfare policies, and in historical narratives– would prove more difficult to uproot and eradicate..."
27/ Understanding Jim Crow in terms of the traditional iconic Whites Only signs, the lynchings, etc miss the subtler, more persistent ways white supremacy & segregation is continued.
End of the introduction.
28/ Chapter One of "Mothers of Massive Resistance" by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae
Posting the cover again...
Chapter Title:
The Color Line in Virginia: The Home-Grown Production of White Supremacy
29/ Virginia's obsession with whiteness resulted in the 1924 passage of the Racial Integrity Act (RIA) that defined White as having not one drop of nonwhite blood. Anyone else was "colored" This merged Native Americans with African Americans into one group. Totally binary.
30/ They added the Pocahontas exception. Which made me think of how most white people are descended from "an Indian princess" usually Cherokee, but sometimes Pocahontas. VOX did a great piece on that a while back. So great, I remember it 3 years later…
31/ This Wikipedia article on the 1924 Racial Integrity Act is good, pointing to its obsessive fear of passing...which is why they erased Indian identity, suspecting black people passed as Indian and avoided Jim Crow laws.…
32/ The Racial Integrity Act should also be seen as policing women's bodies since the point is prohibiting interracial marriage. Women were also tasked, as teachers and registrars with policing the color line, the bureaucratic labor force of Jim Crow.
33/ "Beyond their reproductive capacity to strengthen or weaken the nation, eugenicists argued that women carried in their very genetic makeup the power to recognize race mixing." Wow! Like gaydar, but for race.
34/ Using local history, gossip and their own ideas of heredity and culture, they labeled individuals, and thus their families. Midwives with babies, teachers with students, social workers, registrars, were empowered to define who was white and who was not, and chart their future
35/ Here's the registration card of birth and race they used. Note the 1/16 NA "Pocahontas exemption" They created an entire bureaucracy of racial classification, mostly defined and delimited by white women
36/ Here's the reverse side of the card.
36/ Margaret Aileen Goodman was a school teacher who was charged with making sure the students in her school were all white. She told William Clark he and his family were not Indian, they were not White, they were Black. He disagreed so she reported his resistance to supervisor.
37/ Goodman was from Irish Creek where in the 1750s three white traders settled and whose progeny were racially fluid, white, indian, mulatto, and black, shifting back and forth, those some added an e Clarke, to be more white.
38/ "Within nuclear families, census takers had categorized members as white, black, mulatto, and Indian, and individuals had claimed to be black, tri-racial, Cherokee, and later Monacan" (a tribe unrecognized by feds, but by VA)
39) Imagine trying to deal with that complexity with a binary racial classification of white/not white. Clarks went to court to challenge the law and to get declared white. One white Clark sent his kids to school and the schools said they didn't really care if his registration
40/ said white, his kids still could not go to school."The school board claimed that the Clarks were believed to be part “Negro,” and for the good of the community and the schools, they could not admit his children."
41/ and of course, the Clarks were so wed to whiteness, they didn't send their kids to school rather than to a black school. The RIA had serious implications, prohibiting marriages, determining who gets educated and how well.
42/ In 1922, Louise Burleigh of Raleigh VA founded the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America to spread white supremacy through the arts, arguing Anglo-Saxon musical tradition was the source of American culture, rejecting jazz, etc.
43/ She was a busy racist, ghost-writing a book on eugenics, lobbying for the Racial Integrity Act and a member of the Board of Censors - making sure black and white relationships were sufficiently separate.
44/ "She embodied what historian Gregory Dorr called “the larger masculinist ideals of segregation’s science—men talked, women worked.”
She also recruited members to the Women’s Racial Integrity Club (WRIC).
45/ Meanwhile, undergraduate women at Sweet Briar College were fanning out doing sociology work on behalf of Arthur Estabrook at the Eugenics Record Office of the Carnegie Institute of Washington.
46/ Researchers figured women had more intuitive ability to recognize "feeblemindedness" and the bad "germplasm" that resulted from interracial mixing. Germplasm!!!!
47/ These women inventoried families, judging them on everything from complexion to cleanliness. for a study called "Mongrel Virginians" ugh. This is only a century ago, folks.
48/ They claimed bi/multiracial girls became sexually active at 9,10, or 11 and were promiscuous, that multiracial children were intellectually disabled, lazy, unclean, etc. all to justify laws against interracial marriage.
49/ "Many of those upholding the RIA were women who needed only the power of their observational skills and a diligent commitment to defining whiteness." These women's biases, judgment, gossip, determined people's fates.
50/ There were a few cases when a registrar refused a marriage licence to a couple based on their judgment, despite records, that a person was nonwhite. When they lost a case, they were so frustrated they got the legislature to give Plecker, the racial integrity registrar power
51/ to alter birth records so he could ferret out people who were passing and declare them nonwhite. Even during the Depression, they expended money and effort enforcing the Racial Integrity Act.
52/ then along came WW2, during WW1 Indians fought in White units, but now draft boards put them in black units using the registrars & the list of "black/mixed race names" Shades of Crosscheck!!!
53/ The big takeaway, the Racial Integrity Act had teeth because local women were willing and eager to help enforce Jim Crow.
54/ ?Rumors told that after passage of the RIA in 1924, people came selling whiteness certificates for as much as $10,000— a clear accounting of not what individuals actually paid but of what they believed whiteness was worth."
55/ This affects people today, folks doing genealogy coming into these conflicts of the past. In 2000, the Monocan tribe lobbied to get their ancestors birth certificates changed from black to indian.
56/ We need to remember white women's role in empowering Jim Crow, they were active participants & enforcers. Ignoring their active role at the local level makes it seem as though segregation was natural. It also creates the idea that legislation creates facts without acts by us
57/ In other words, just as people acting to enforce the Racial Integrity Act made it real. The mere passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act does not reify equality without our participation.
58/ Chapter Two of "Mothers of Massive Resistance"
Citizenship Education for a Segregated Nation
Cover Photo of "Mothers of Massive Resistance"
59/ In 1919, Mildred Lewis Rutherford launched her campaign to turn history on its head. The United Confederate Veterans created the Rutherford Committee that published a pamphlet giving guidance on how to overturn history (not her words)
60/ The real name of the pamphlet was: “A Measuring Rod to Test Text Books, and Reference Books in Schools, Colleges, and Libraries.” Oh joy!
61/ Rutherford also encouraged people to endow chairs in Southern history, do summer education for school teachers, and form textbook selection committees. She wanted vigilance on who was appointed and hired at all levels of education industry.
62/ This revisionist history was not pushed in order to restore the past but to create and maintain white supremacy in the present and future.
63/ ICYMI, in October @Freeyourmindkid tweeted an epic thread on how the stories from the anti-Reconstruction South and Jim Crow remain evergreen. Rutherford's work remains in play today.
64/ Black history disappeared from the textbooks, thanks to "decades of work with the UDC, Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Georgia Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, and Lucy Cobb Institute alumni" The YWCA? Dang.
65/ Fear of immigrants fed into their organizing, too. Many groups, including the Grand Army of the Republic, the New York City Board of Education, the KKK, the School Committee of the City of Boston, the American Federation of Labor, the UDC, the American Legion, and the DAR
66/ all got behind the idea that school textbooks and curriculum should not guided by academics and the elite, but should be rooted in community and popular approval. Anti-intellectualism is nothing new.
67/ but it is an effective tool in crafting history and curriculum to advance white supremacy and make segregation seem normal and unchanging. There were groups who organized to challenge the revisionist history but were far outnumbered
68/ But just so we can honor their work: they were the International Council of Women of Darker Races, the Women’s Committee of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, and the Women’s International League for Peace.
69/ They turned to children's literature to keep the stories and history alive and counter the triumphalist great man history advocated by conservatives and white supremacists.
70/ Fear of socialism in the 20s, led to widespread textbook censorship. "the DAR, the American Legion, and fifty other organizations organized censorship campaigns to ensure that patriotic “true American history” was taught." These battles continue:…
71/ Margaret Robinson in the north worked with Rutherford, with Calvin Coolidge's agreement, advanced the idea that women were best suited to root out subversion in textbooks. They opposed teaching history as issues/ should not think, just learn about great men
72/ One of the Progressive reforms that took root in the South was statewide textbook selection committees, which made it much easier to enforce their segregationist ideology in schools.
73/ Black schools were underfunded and largely unsupervised because the people in power did not care about them. That gave them some important autonomy to counter the state's curriculum
74/ Beulah Rucker Oliver and Marion Wilkinson taught African American history and literature. Groups advocated for inclusion in textbooks and curriculum but the DAR, American, Legion, and the UDC opposed them and kept black history out of history.
75/ The famed historian Charles Beard's textbook was rejected, but "The KKK" by Laura Rose was part of the official textbook selections in Mississippi. The book taught the KKK was formed because black people thought freedom meant they didn't have to work at all
76/ They were taught the best people joined the KKK motivated by love of country & the atrocities were falsely attributed to the KKK. They made sure Confederate-friendly textbooks were placed in libraries, sponsored essay contests, scholarships, & teacher training.
77/ All of this was to teach people to call it the "war between the states" to say the "south was right" and the "KKK saved the south" and that black people were better off under slavery.
78/ Rutherford claimed the South would have eventually granted rights to civil and political rights, but never social equality, that the south treated black s better than the north
79/ She never referred to "The Lost Cause' because she claimed "our cause was never lost" and since her cause was white supremacy...well, she has a point.
80/ Meanwhile on the national political level, Congress was trying to do something about child labor. The SC kept saying child labor laws were unconstitutional so they tried an amendment that failed in the South and in MASSACHUSETTS!!! Why in MA?
81/ The people who advocated censoring textbooks to groom white supremacists in the school opposed child labor protections because it interfered in parental rights and proposed a "nanny state" Where have I heard that recently?
82/ One of the key insights in "Mothers of Massive Resistance" is that the themes that run through rightwing rhetoric today were crafted long ago.
83/ This is also where the conservative hatred of the Department of Education begins. Segregationists opposed the creation of a DOE for fear it would interfere in white supremacist education and segregation
84/ In 1941, Mary Elizabeth Carpenter published a study of the 86 textbooks she reviewed, most included "no pictures of African Americans and made no notice of their presence in American life after Reconstruction."
85/ Rutherford's work>>two trends that shaped white women's role in white supremacy. First, she taught white women to be vigilant in maintaining control of the narrative that maintained Jim Crow. Second, black achievement and history was erased. Ask Bill O'Reilly!
86/ The erasure of Black people from American history, the disappearance of Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman (only in 1 textbook, the censored Beard one). Some named Nat Turner to advance the idea of black violence, but otherwise nothing.
87/ Chapter Three: Campaigning for a Jim Crow South from
"Mothers of Massive Resistance" by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae
I hope this thread encourages you to read this book because there is so much more than these tweets.
88/ The Deep South (by the way, this is different from the South and refers to the plantation South) had voter turnout between 10 and 20% in presidential elections. That's all, not black turnout. Black turnout was <1%. 90% of votes went to Democrats.
89/ 1920's expansion of the suffrage did increase the number of voters, but not voter participation. White women voting enforced, rather than challenged, Jim Crow.
90/ "Three white women—Florence Sillers Ogden, Mary Dawson Cain, & Cornelia Dabney Tucker, all segregationists operating in Deep South states— capitalized on their enfranchisement to mobilize make electoral politics shape & sustain the system of Jim Crow."
91/ They pursued different strategies, supporting and opposing the New Deal, but united in Whiteness. Notice their employment of "color-blindness" and pursuing principle over party.
92/ Florence Sillers Ogden was active in the UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy) and the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). The DAR had become a reactionary anti-immigration, anti-subversive, and advocated for a national security state.
93/ While DAR eschewed the UDC's white nationalism, they were united in anti-immigrant fear-mongering. How different is this from Sarah Sanders on FOX News the other day?
94/ Ogden wanted to be a writer but her fiction was panned for stereotyping. No surprise when she got a column she called it "Dis and Dat" supposedly quoting a tenant farmer asking to borrow some money because his wife wants some of "dis and dat" Seriously, in a newspaper
95/ That racistly titled column ran for 35 years into the 70s. She lauded the House Un-American Activities Committee that was founded about the same time. (Since they investigated my dad, I am particularly hostile to people who applauded the buzzards.)
96/ No surprise, she was alarmed by the Europeans fleeing Nazi Germany. Folks in Congress were thinking of lifting the immigration restrictions and she wrote articles opposing increased immigration.
97/ This will sound familiar. "Ogden alerted her readers to the “political carnivores”—European political refugees—who were seeking to destroy democracy from the havens of American universities by indoctrinating unsuspecting undergraduates" The modern alt-right has nothing new
98/ Ogden ran the family cotton plantation so became active in working to elect a governor who promised to lower property taxes. She organized women to canvass on his behalf. So long as women did not challenge white patriarchy, their participation was welcome
99/ Of course, the point was to change who bore the burden. The property tax was cut and a 3% sales tax was imposed. The governor even bragged it would make black Mississippians pay for the services they enjoyed. (What services?)
100/ In a perfect example of how New Deal policy preserved white supremacy. The Agricultural Adjustment Act was supposed to protect the tenant farmers, too, but the money was given to the landowner to disburse to tenants VOLUNTARILY. Sure.
101/ In other local examples of the New Deal being whites only , the CWA built a whites-only library and the WPA built a whites-only hospital. Ogden also got federal funds to build a whites-only park and country club with swimming pool
102/ Ogden liked Roosevelt and the New Deal but when a new governor proposed a "Little New Deal" for the state, she was opposed. She opposed repealing the poll tax and wrote to inveigh against giving textbooks to black schools because they might learn about democratic rights.
103/ In another part of Mississippi, Pike County, majority white and not dependent on cotton, Mary Dawson Cain was active in Democratic politics, initially working to repeal prohibition. This put her at odds with the rest of the state which did not end prohibition until 1966
104/ In 1936, she began her own newspaper, The Summit Sun which supported FDR. In 1937, that was over. The anti-lynching bill (not passed), Social Security, the WPA, and court-packing were bridges too far.
105/ Really, it was the anti-lynching bill. Opposition was centered on state's rights, naturally.
106/ So Cain began calling herself a "Jeffersonian Democrat" which may sound familiar to many of you since Dixiecrats adopted it 10 years later. It was about Whiteness and opposition to federal policies like Social Security, public education, civil rights, etc.
To be continued...
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