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DURING THE TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF CIVIL RIGHTS PROTEST AND reform that followed World War H, white southern leaders' determined choice of resistance over acquiescence inspired and encouraged defiance among other southerners and undergirded and prolonged massive resistance. Inheritors of both the Lost Cause and the regional development schemes that had offered northern corporations cheap unorganized labor since the 1930s, elite segregationists looked backward for inspiration; most refused to reexamine old ways in the light of new realities or to imagine opportunities for themselves in a racially integrated South. Segregationist leaders built support on misplaced expectations and shifting sands, but their efforts were sanguine, intentional, and contagious. Although many moderate white southerners refused to fall behind them in lockstep, the public attention naturally accruing to elite leaders muted dissent, and grassroots segregationists followed their lead. This article examines organized interstate resistance engineered by elite southern segregationists. It highlights ambitious groups led by political and economic elites who sought, and failed, to stop the expansion of the federal government into areas they deemed protected by the Tenth Amendment. These organizations provide an important key to understanding the evolution and ultimate collapse of southern massive resistance. The most credible efforts to unite sophisticated white supremacists shared several elements. A resistance organization created a cover of respectability and gravity when, in addition to advertising the presence of southerners of substance (especially urban elites) in leadership roles, it made a significant constitutional argument or raised a believable complaint about unequal treatment of the South that obscured race as the primary issue. Segregationist groups also often garnered a measure of approval or influence when their resistance acquired plausible intellectual justification from the legal or academic community; when the group had an active, professional public relations arm; and when the organization gained devoted and generous allies from outside the South. Two relatively small interstate leadership organizations that aspired toward those ends can be seen as the bookends of massive resistance: the Federation for Constitutional Government (FCG), formed in 1955 to fight the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision in the courts and Congress, and the Coordinating Committee for Fundamental American Freedoms (CCFAF), formed in 1963 to lobby against the proposed Civil Rights Act. The Citizens' Councils of America (CCA), a much better known federation of state groups with extensive grassroots memberships, outlasted both; but the short-lived FCG and CCFAF exhibited definite goals, high-toned leadership from several states, allies from the North and West, and prospects for generous private funding of targeted political work.

1 novembre
Southern Historical Association

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