The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995 Page: 167
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The first essay, by John Dittmer, analyzes Mississippi's Freedom Democratic
Party (FDP) in the four years following its h eroic stand at the Democratic par-
ty's national convention in Atlantic City. After Fannie Lou Hamer's bold ques-
tioning of America, the FDP continued to organize black Mississippians in the
face of intensifying internal and external pressures. Internally, the movement,
essentially dominated by women and supported by rural working-class blacks,
faced a powerful challenge for hegemony from more mainstream middle-class
black men. Dittmer shows that an important aspect of this power struggle were
the alliances both factions counted on for the execution of many of their tactics
and strategies. The FDP's allies were white liberals who mainly lived outside the
region. "Disenchanted black moderates" found friends among southern white
moderates who saw the FDP "as a radical black organization dominated by ex-
tremists of the New Left" (p. 27). The unholy trinity of race, gender, and class is,
as Dittmer shows, responsible for many of the political outcomes of the 196os.
George Wright examines dimensions of the black struggle outside the Deep
South and over a longer period. The struggle for equal educational access con-
cerns more than half the essay, but Wright also briefly addresses lynchings, equal
access to public accommodations, housing, and employment. His discussion of
these topics is authoritative, but does not attain the same level of critical thought
and creativity as do the other essays. He concludes with an idea one wishes he
had begun with, that the civil rights movement in Kentucky "has led to two black
Americas" (p. 61), but he does not explore why or how this occurred. He stops
short of suggesting that at some point in the black struggle for freedom and so-
cial justice a cleavage developed between the masses of blacks and a small group
of well-educated blacks with a vast horizon of new, movement-generated oppor-
tunities within white America. He might have addressed, at least partially, this
critical issue in his otherwise excellent treatment of educational change in Ken-
W. Marvin Dulaney's essay on the black struggle against "apartheid" (p. 68) in
Dallas reserves the best for last. He reveals a city solidly anchored by historical
and social forces in a southern-style "system of racial violence and segregation"
(p. 67). Likewise, he argues that Dallas was the site of a vibrant civil rights move-
ment between the 193os and 1950s. He correctly points out that Dallas was the
organizational center for the watershed Smith and Sweatt cases. In the late 1950s,
however, the Dallas movement fell victim to state repression and internal divi-
sion. The latter problem was the most devastating. Dulaney explains how "the
Dallas Citizens Council, a powerful group of white business leaders" (p. 78), in-
duced a stratum of movement leaders to eschew direct action or violence in fa-
vor of a gradual process of managed desegregation. This had a chilling effect on
the movement's potential for mass activism and stymied efforts to accrue "more
substantial gains of political and economic power" (p. 66) for Dallas blacks.
Clayborne Carson provides a useful introduction to these essays. With his brief
overview of the literature on the civil rights movement, this book should be used
in undergraduate and graduate classes for the next several years at least.
Prairie View A&M University
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995, periodical, 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/m1/195/: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.