The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism

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More options … Overview Content Contact Persons. Overview Aims and Scope Until now, the critical shift in Southern political allegiance from Democratic to Republican has been explained, by scholars and journalists, as a white backlash to the civil rights revolution. Comments 0 Please log in or register to comment. General note: By using the comment function on degruyter. A respectful treatment of one another is important to us.

Therefore we would like to draw your attention to our House Rules. In Chicago, unlike Mississippi, he could at least vote without being shot. Another generation of Black migrants left the South decades earlier; they, too, were refugees.

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Some of the men on the train stopped their watches at the exact time they crossed into the Ohio River. Informing their view was the memory of slavery. For generations of Black people, the Ohio River represented a symbol of transitioning into freedom. Components of this symbolism remained even after Emancipation.

Some on those exodus trains might have been former slaves. The odds were that anyone over the age of fifty-two coming from Louisiana, Alabama, or Mississippi—all states with extremely few free African Americans during the Antebellum Era—had in all likelihood at one point been enslaved. Even for younger generations, the river that separates the North and South remained a distinct and powerful symbol of freedom.

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They had grown up hearing stories of such a river. The symbolism of that and other rivers was embedded deep within their souls.


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Even decades after the Civil War, the experience of crossing the Ohio River marked a powerful moment of departure from the lands where their ancestors had been held in bondage. The North for them was different; the North, unlike the South, was a place where they believed they could be free. None of this should serve to reduce the important scholarly contributions of those who study race outside the South.

follow site Southern Black migrants had networks of family and friends living in places such as Milwaukee, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, who cautioned them about the racial realities of life in Northern cities. Black Southern migrants were quite aware that their Blackness would follow them north and continue to limit their lives in a myriad of ways.

But this is part of the point. Despite their awareness of racial discrimination in the North and West, Black Southern migrants left the South anyway because in their minds, anywhere and everywhere was different than the South.

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    Yet scholars and journalists continue to disagree over whether the modern South is dominating, deviating from, or converging with the rest of the nation. This collection asks how the stories of American history chance if the South is no longer seen as a region apart--as the conservative exception to a liberal nation. Read more Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private.

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