In the 1960s, Mississippi was the heart of white southern resistance to the civil-rights movement. To many, it was a backward-looking society of racist authoritarianism and violence that was sorely out of step with modern liberal America. White Mississippians, however, had a different vision of themselves and their country, one so persuasive that by 1980 they had become important players in Ronald Reagan's newly ascendant Republican Party.
In this ambitious reassessment of racial politics in the deep South, Joseph Crespino reveals how Mississippi leaders strategically accommodated themselves to the demands of civil-rights activists and the federal government seeking to end Jim Crow, and in so doing contributed to a vibrant conservative countermovement. Crespino explains how white Mississippians linked their fight to preserve Jim Crow with other conservative causes--with evangelical Christians worried about liberalism infecting their churches, with cold warriors concerned about the Communist threat, and with parents worried about where and with whom their children were schooled. Crespino reveals important divisions among Mississippi whites, offering the most nuanced portrayal yet of how conservative southerners bridged the gap between the politics of Jim Crow and that of the modern Republican South.
This book lends new insight into how white Mississippians gave rise to a broad, popular reaction against modern liberalism that recast American politics in the closing decades of the twentieth century.
"In his study of Mississippi, Crespino provides a challenging, comprehensive examination of white southerners confronting the modern Civil Rights Movement. While focusing on the actions, strategies, and beliefs from the Brown v. Board of Education decision to the rise of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Crespino successfully reevaluates the perspective of southern whites beyond the Ku Klux Klan and those espousing virulent racism."--J. Michael Bitzer, Choice
"In this important and engagingly written book historian Joseph Crespino has examined Mississippi's white population and has discovered more complexity, and much more change over time, than Phil Ochs [in his biting anthem, 'Here's to the State of Mississippi'] would have thought possible."--Bruce Nelson, Journal of Southern History
"Elucidating the connection between modern conservatives who avow racial equality and the southern segregationists who so strongly resisted it, . . . Crespino counters the facile historical claims of conservatives who identify their movement with the religious, nonviolent, and integrationist civil rights crusades of the 1950s and early 1960s."--Paul V. Murphy, American Historical Review
"Crespino navigates . . . with consummate skill, offering clear understandings of state and national politics and basing his linkages of the two fields on solid evidence. . . . In Search of Another Country is a stellar work of historical scholarship, powerfully researched, organized, and argued."--Peter N. Stearns, Journal of Social History
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations and Tables ix
CHAPTER ONE: Practical Segregation 18
CHAPTER TWO: The Limits of Resistance 49
CHAPTER THREE: "The Heartland of Conservative America" 75
CHAPTER FOUR: Racial Troubleshooting 108
CHAPTER FIVE: The Ambivalence of White Christians 144
CHAPTER SIX: The Irony of School Desegregation 173
CHAPTER SEVEN: Southern Strategies in Mississippi 205
CHAPTER EIGHT: Mississippi Kulturkampf 237