Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

Kevin Greene, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

History

Abstract

During the decade after Brown v. Board of Education, civil rights advocates faced segregationist opposition due to both socially ingrained white supremacy and the widespread fear of Communism in the United States. Although the Supreme Court officially mandated racial integration in 1954, segregationist groups like the White Citizens’ Council and the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission organized to oppose the Brown ruling’s implementation. This thesis uses segregationist propaganda material, newspapers, periodicals, and agency correspondences to examine the tactics of those who hoped to preserve racial inequality. In particular, this study focuses on the impact that anti-Communist rhetoric had on the Civil Rights Movement, demonstrating both the strengths and limitations of southern segregationists who equated racial integration to Communist agitation. Local segregationist leaders, ranging from pastors to politicians, often took advantage of the nationwide paranoia that accompanied the Cold War, inducing among white southerners the fear that racial equality and democracy could not coexist.

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