The Battle for Southern Civil Rights Remembered

I thought it might be a good idea to remind ourselves of some aspects of the fight for civil rights in the American South, especially the role of violence in attempting to suppress that struggle.

Remember Colfax, Louisiana, in 1873? That’s where some one hundred blacks were slaughtered on April 13 of that year.

And as for the children … remember Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957?

Or Birmingham, Alabama, in September 1963?

Yes, let’s remember the children … four of them … who perished that day:

Cynthia Wesley                                 Carole Robertson

Addie Mae Collins                                Denise McNair

And then there’s Memphis, 1968:

Folks, let’s not confuse this …

… with this …

Thank you.

24 thoughts on “The Battle for Southern Civil Rights Remembered

  1. Eric J. Wittenberg October 15, 2012 / 6:44 pm

    Amen, brother. Well said, Brooks.

    I’m sure I’m going to join ranks with you tomorrow when I post something that will undoubtedly rile up those who frequent the gift that keeps on giving.

  2. michael confoy October 15, 2012 / 6:51 pm

    Takes a lot of guts to do that at an Arts Museum. We welcome them to bring their show up to Northern Virginia 🙂

  3. Al Mackey October 15, 2012 / 7:11 pm

    Apparently the SHPG doesn’t confuse the two. They believe the latter to be worse.

  4. Francis Gallo October 15, 2012 / 7:44 pm

    So the provocations of the conflict (rebellion, revolution, secession, what have you) resolve themselves, and continue to beg for resolution today, 147 years after the alleged end of that conflict. We still strive to live as if the war ended in a victory, but what we have experienced is nothing more than a societal armistice. If we allowed ourselves the opportunity to resolve our conflicts through mutual respect, rather than immerse ourselves in an unresolvable dialectic, perhaps we could move forward from this violation of the very meaning of what it is to be an American today into a state of grace. A state where we could recognize each others wrongs and rights, strengths and weaknesses, and build ourselves from a new foundation of tolerance. Might not be easy, but it sure beats hell out of the alternative.

  5. neukomment October 15, 2012 / 9:01 pm

    Something for study: How the prevalence, on a popular “folklore” level, of the “Lost Cause” mythology, colored and influenced the average citizen’s perceptions of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in the north as well as the south,…

    • Mary Ellen Maatman October 16, 2012 / 2:24 pm

      I’ve written two articles about that. Here are the URLs:

      The first is entitled “Speaking Truth to Memory: Lawyers and Resistance to the End of White Supremacy.”

      The Second is entitled “Justice Formation From Generation to Generation: Atticus Finch and the Stories Lawyers Tell Their Children.”

      I am quite convinced that Lost Cause mythology–along with other things–played a strong role in massive resistance in the 1950s and 1960s. Presently I am doing further research on the ways civil war memory and lost cause memory affected the progress of civil rights.

      • neukomment October 17, 2012 / 7:14 pm

        Mary Ellen Maatman,

        Thank you for the links to the articles.

        The mention of Atticus Finch and To Kill A Mockingbird took me back to the early 60’s when as a boy from a predominately white rural southern Michigan area and just entering my teens, I sat in a small town theater just across the state-line in Ohio and watched that dramatic black and white film play across the screen. It was years later I began to understand what had been planted in my impressionable mind by that film (and later reading the book) and how my evolving understanding of the Civil Rights movement (and by implication the Civil War) was influenced by it. Atticus Finch will always be one of my hero’s.

        At that time in the early ’60’s, our popular perception of the Civil War was colored by “Lost Cause” influences which I believe, along with other things, fed into a suspicious perception of the Civil Rights movement, .

        Here is a link to an account of my own face to face encounter with the Civil Rights movement back in my collage days which you might find of some possible interest:

        Regards, Bill

      • Edwin Thompson October 18, 2012 / 11:15 am

        Mary Ellen – Your article on Atticus Finch and the stories lawyers tell their children is excellent. I didn’t expect to find it on Brooks’ civil war blog. As a northerner who spent a number of years in Alabama during the 1970’s, it brings home many memoires. For example, many southerners spoke with pride about the 1961 civil war centennial celebration in Montgomery as if the war was something to be proud of. I wonder how long it will take before all southerners understand the cultural shame in trying to create a slave nation. Perhaps it will not happen until Atticus’s antagonists are as easily identifiable as Atticus. That will require counter stories (as you call them). But who wants counter stories about the White Citizens Council, the KKK or the Nazi’s. They are not stories that are easy to tell. And what person would be proud to say they are descendants to people that evil? We need a few more generations to complete this history.

  6. peterjprice2012 October 16, 2012 / 8:13 am

    Your right Brooke, And we can also Remember ‘YOUR’ Glorious Union General George Armstrong Custer who ‘SLAUGHTERED’ THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of NATIVE AMERICANS…

    • Brooks D. Simpson October 16, 2012 / 11:01 am

      Custer’s not “my” general. How bizarre of you to think otherwise. However, I assume you are a citizen of the United States, which, if one was to think as you apparently do, that Custer was your general …and died for your sins, too.

      Please spare us this nonsense in the future, or I’ll spare all of us such nonsense.

      • Michael C. Lucas October 16, 2012 / 12:05 pm

        There is no difference in equal rights either they are equal or not.

          • Michael C. Lucas October 17, 2012 / 7:53 am

            Don’t you? or does your hypocrisy have no end?

          • Brooks D. Simpson October 17, 2012 / 9:48 am

            Michael, Michael, Michael … tsk, tsk, tsk. And yawn. It this the best that another self-appointed representative of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group can do?

            Maybe it’s time for you to scurry back and tell everyone how you’ve advanced the colors here … especially that big yellow streak down your back. Take care.

          • Michael C. Lucas October 17, 2012 / 11:12 am

            Thanks for proving my point yet again!

          • Brooks D. Simpson October 17, 2012 / 3:02 pm

            I’m sure you think you have a point to make.

          • michael confoy October 17, 2012 / 10:44 pm

            I am assuming these nut cases don’t let civilized society post on their politely named website as you do here Brooks? Not sure why you let them as much as you do though. Just took a spin through it. Lunatic fringe racist. NAZI party racist. Unbelievable fantasy world of racism built up in a laughable attempt to look intellectually rigorous.

          • Francis Gallo October 18, 2012 / 7:49 pm

            It’s the kind of thing people drink up though, Michael. You have to admit, it is much easier to agree with something that is familiar than to read everything critically. You know the old nonsense admonition to research scientists-“If I didn’t believe it, I never would have seen it.”
            BTW- think the stuff goes beyond racism. There’s a distinct white supremacist edge to this stuff, which includes racism, of course, but is a bit more worrying.

        • Francis Gallo October 17, 2012 / 7:56 pm

          In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

          Yogi Berra

    • rcocean October 18, 2012 / 7:10 pm

      Wow, I didn’t realize Custer personally slaughtered thousands of Indians in his brief tour as Great Plains General. He must have had an off day at the Little Big Horn.

      • Buck Buchanan October 23, 2012 / 1:47 pm

        Hell, Custer probably killed more US soldiers and horses through disease and misjudgement between his terrible accounting in Hancock’s War and in 1877 than he did Native Americans.

  7. Hunter Wallace October 17, 2012 / 9:52 pm

    As a resident of the Birmingham metropolitan area, the first thing that strikes me about this exhibit of photographs about violence in this area is a lack of photographs from the new and improved, “integrated” Birmingham which has been under black majority rule ever since Richard Arrington was elected mayor in 1979.

    For some strange reason, historians seem to lose interest in the “Civil Rights Movement” in Alabama around the time that MLK was assassinated in 1968. As far as the rest of America is concerned, the story of “civil rights” in Birmingham has a tendency to end there.

    It’s a shame because certainly moral arc of the story of voting rights and “civil rights” and “violence” in Birmingham rose from those small beginnings when MLK composed his famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail to the glory days of Richard Arrington, Larry Langford, and William Bell who guided Jefferson County, AL to filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history in 2011.

    The city fathers of Birmingham would be proud of all the progress that followed after the Civil Rights Movement. In 2012, “integrated” Birmingham under Mayor William Bell is # 7. in violent crime. Over 90 percent of the violent crime in Birmingham is black-on-everyone. I believe that we are even in the Top 5 for rape and property crime and highly competitive in most other areas.

    The Klan is out of control around here … that is, the black Klan enabled by the Voting Rights Act, which votes as a solid racial phalanx and whose corruption, mismanagement, incompetance, crime, and “no-snitch” culture has brought Birmingham to its knees.

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