The Gentle Weapon

Wed, November 22, 2017 5:30 PM – 7:00

“The Gentle Weapon”: Social Ostracism as a weapon of Massive Resistance in Montgomery Alabama.
Public Lecture by Professor Helen Laville, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Samuel DuBois Cook, civil rights activist and friend of Martin Luther King has claimed that that White Citizens Council took an active role in attempts to silence the voices of moderates across the South, asserting; “White Citizens councils sought to frighten and to silence not … moderate and liberal whites … to keep them from participating in desegregation activities.” This lecture explores the pressures facing white women who attempted to advocate a moderate position on racial integration, focusing on efforts by women to form an interracial prayer group in Montgomery Alabama. The White Citizens Council, concerned that white women’s activism in support of racial tolerance might weaken massive resistance, urged their supporters to use social pressure to dissuade women from participating in activities which supported integrationist or moderate position. This lecture will review the identification of the activism of white women as a threat to segregation, exploring the extent to which this identification drew on stereotypes of southern womanhood, fears of miscegenation, and class hostility. It will then review efforts to use social ostracism as a tool to defend segregation. Finally this lecture will assess the impact of this approach on women who spoke out in defence of a moderate position on racial integration.
Part of the History Research Seminar series at Manchester Metropolitan University

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