The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism by Matthew D. Lassiter, Joseph Crespino

By Matthew D. Lassiter, Joseph Crespino

Greater than one-third of the inhabitants of the U.S. now lives within the South, a area the place politics, race kinfolk, and the economic climate have replaced dramatically given that global warfare II. but historians and reporters proceed to disagree over no matter if the trendy South is dominating, deviating from, or converging with the remainder of the country. Has the time come to claim the tip of southern historical past? and the way do the tales of yank historical past swap if the South is not any longer visible as a area apart--as the conservative counterpoint to a liberal nationwide perfect? The fable of Southern Exceptionalism demanding situations the belief of southern uniqueness on the way to provide a brand new state of mind approximately smooth American background. For too lengthy, the assumption in a superb South has inspired distortions and generalizations concerning the nation's differently liberal traditions, particularly by means of compartmentalizing subject matters of racism, segregation, and political conservatism in a single portion of the rustic. This quantity dismantles well known binaries--of de facto as opposed to de jure segregation, crimson kingdom conservatism as opposed to blue nation liberalism, the ''South'' as opposed to the ''North''--to rewrite the heritage of area and state alike. Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino current 13 essays--framed by way of their provocative introduction--that reinterpret significant issues equivalent to the civil rights stream within the South and the North, the connection among conservative backlash and liberal reform during the nation, the increase of the spiritual correct as a countrywide phenomenon, the emergence of the metropolitan Sunbelt, and lengthening suburban range in a multiracial New South. through writing American heritage throughout local borders, this quantity spends as a lot time outdoors as contained in the conventional barriers of the South, relocating from Mississippi to manhattan urban, from Southern California to South Carolina, from Mexico to Atlanta, from Hollywood to the Newport folks pageant, and from the Pentagon to the Attica legal uprising.

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7 During the 1950s and early 1960s, the southern drama of massive resistance served to obscure the civil rights movement’s extensive challenge to Jim Crow housing policies in the metropolitan North and West. ” In 1955, however, the federal courts rejected the NAACP’s contention that government financing of the all-white Levittown suburb in Pennsylvania constituted official racial discrimination in violation of the state action doctrine. ” “The pattern is the same everywhere,” Miller explained. “Residential segregation as we know it today is the end product of more than a half century of intensive government DE JURE/DE FACTO SEGREGATION 31 sanction.

When the civil rights movement launched a direct assault on the interlocking patterns of educational inequality and residential exclusion in cities and suburbs across the nation, the tenuous liberal coalition for racial integration disintegrated. A broad spectrum of white actors seized upon the “de facto” rationale through a “color-blind” discourse that defended neighborhood schools and segregated housing as the products of private action and free-market forces alone, a sphere in which government had not caused, and therefore had no right or obligation to remedy, racial inequality.

Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States 20 THE MYTH OF SOUTHERN EXCEPTIONALISM (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); David M. P. Freund, Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007). 23. See chapter 1 of this volume and the books cited in note 5 above. Scholars who study the civil rights movement “in the North” still tend to flatten the history of places as diverse and distant as Boston (New England), Detroit and Chicago (Midwest), and Los Angeles (West) into a single unified region defined only by its status as the non-South.

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