Discussion of White Flight

Paul Harvey

Tonight in Christina Jimenez’s innovative graduate seminar on conceptions of state and citizenship, incorporating material from the Ancient world, India, Latin America, the MIddle East, and the U.S., I will be helping to moderate a discussion on one of the most important works in the history of the U.S. South in recent years, Kevin Kruse’s White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism. Kruse traces the origins of many of the staples of modern conservative thought (especially, the privatization of what had been public goods) to the white southern reaction to civil rights, which was in effect to withdraw from the public sphere. As part of this discussion, I invite Christina’s students to post your thoughts on the work here, by hitting the “leave a comment” button at the end of this post. Anyone else who has read the work, feel free to comment as well!

This entry was posted in faculty teaching, History Department, History in the News, m.a. program. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Discussion of White Flight

  1. Phil Brotherton says:

    Looking forward to having you in class again, Dr. Harvey.

  2. Christina says:

    This is a test.

  3. Robin Lynch says:

    Test note number 2

  4. bdriver@uccs.edu says:

    I am still getting through the last of the book, but I have found it to be fascinating so far.

  5. Roxanne Yelvington says:

    In Nakano Glenn’s Unequal Freedoms and Kruse’s White Flight a seemingly counterintuitive notion of citizenship in America emerges: It seems that a defining feature of US citizenship has always been its discrete and locally/regionally enforced exclusion. As we have read in both works, whether laws were enacted at the national and even state level was largely irrelevant to their local and regional success. Thus, although elite whites may have passed and enforced at a municipal level laws favoring a moderately paced program of desegregation as beneficial to their own economic and civic viability, non-elite whites from the working and middle class resisted their efforts.

    Within our course work thus far we have discussed the importance of the public space and its uses in defining citizenship, whether negatively or positively. As Kruse notes within his work, the top-down approach to understanding the segregationist movement in the South has elided the strategic significance battles over public space hold in setting the parameters of citizenship. The withdrawal of whites in large numbers from public schools to private, from suburbs to gated communities, and from businesses that served black customers amply illustrates what Nakano Glenn refers to as the “anti-citizens[hip]” of blacks (245). In this view, not only did blacks lack the standing and allegiance to qualify for citizenship, but their very use of the vehicles and tools of citizenship were seen as “dangerous to white democracy” (245).

    Groups like the neo-Nazi Columbians and the KKK were initially essential voices in the segregationist movement in Atlanta, especially for working-class Atalantans. However, later and more moderate homeowners groups like the WECC, WSMDC, and HOPE refined a rhetoric espousing the protection white citizenship which would persist long after the segregation movement itself. Via this rhetorical shift, segregation was not seen as exclusionary; segregationist instead inverted the national and municipal anti-segregationist line of reasoning by coding it as a defense against unjust encroachment upon their individual rights. Long after the Civil Rights movement defeated segregationist politics, the coding of segregation developed into “an individualistic interpretation of ‘freedom of association,’ a fervent faith in free enterprise, and a fierce hostility to the federal government” all key features in the rising New Conservative movement (259).

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