Race & Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972

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9780820317007: Race & Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972

Race and Democracy is the first history of the civil rights movement in Louisiana. Central to Race and Democracy is Fairclough's argument that historians and the media, in their fascination with the action-oriented, youth-dominated 1960s, do not appreciate the full variety, depth, and durability of black protest. Moreover, by according higher visibility to the most "glamorous" aspects of the movement, they have neglected the crucial role of the NAACP. The dominant civil rights organization in the deep south before the mid-1950s, the NAACP had already amassed an impressive record of victories through litigation and fieldwork before SCLC, CORE, and SNCC arrived on the scene. In reassessing the role of the NAACP, Race and Democracy highlights the contributions of black lawyer Alexander Pierre Tureaud and the many extraordinarily brave men and women for whom the struggle for civil rights was a lifetime commitment. Race and Democracy includes careful analyses of white responses to the civil rights movement as expressed through political factions, trade unions, business lobbies, the Catholic Church, White Citizens Councils, and the Ku Klux Klan. As well as examining the leadership of three powerful governors - Huey Long, Earl Long, and John McKeithen - it describes the roles of such key individuals as federal judge Skelly Wright, Catholic archbishop Joseph Rummel, and racist politico Leander H. Perez. Throughout, Fairclough places the Louisiana movement in the context of such national trends and events as war, depression, McCarthyism, Black Power, and federal intervention. He concludes by surveying present-day Louisiana and assessing the political significance of David Duke.

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From Publishers Weekly:

In studying Louisiana, Fairclough's previous works (Martin Luther King, Jr.) focused only on the post-1955 civil rights movement. Here, he observes that black protest from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s formed a significant movement in its own right. Thus, this sweeping study, which covers much of Louisiana, subtly delves into a rich history. Fairclough establishes Louisiana's distinctive creole heritage and describes the NAACP's first effort to equalize black and white teachers' pay in the 1930s. Bars to voting, education and public accommodations began to fall in the 1940s, but the state resisted the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision, even attacking the NAACP. Fairclough recounts the violence of court-ordered New Orleans school integration, describes CORE's entry into the state and, intriguingly, shows how mid-1960s activism in benighted Bogalusa, La., bridged the passage to black militancy. The book nominally ends in 1972, when, the author observes, both blacks and whites had lost faith in school integration, at least as it had been introduced. Since then, he argues, the rise of David Duke and resistance to him suggest the reality of both white racism and black political power. An interesting, if specialized, account.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

University of Leeds historian Fairclough has studied the U.S. civil rights movement from a national perspective with his work on the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, To Redeem the Soul of America (1987), and with Martin Luther King Jr.. His research on the struggle for racial equality in Louisiana convinces him that the Montgomery-to-Selma 1955^-65 story of the civil rights movement is incomplete. "Black protest between the late 1930s and the mid-50s constituted more," he argues, "than a mere prelude to the drama proper: it was the first act of a two-act play." And this longer time frame grants the NAACP a role as important as that of SCLC, CORE, or SNCC. Fairclough draws on archival collections, FBI files and other government documents, interviews, and secondary sources to trace the fight for political, economic, and social rights for African Americans in "the most diverse and unique southern state" from the final years of Huey Long to the 1972 election of Governor Edwin Edwards. A final chapter, "Struggle Without End," considers more recent Louisiana politics. Race & Democracy is a local history that raises issues of more than regional interest. Mary Carroll

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