Comparative Critique of Frederickson's Dixiecrat Revolt and Kelley's Race Rebels

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Kari Frederickson's work, The Dixiecrat Revolt, examined the growing disenchantment of Southern Democrats to the federal government, President Truman, and ultimately, the Democratic Party. These Southern conservatives rebelled against the Democratic Party in the 1948 Presidential election resulting in the eventual political realignment of the South to a two-party system, and the rise of the Republican Party within that system. The two chapters of Robin D.G. Kelley's book, Race Rebels, studied the rebellion of blacks in Birmingham over the segregated public transportation system. He also examined the plight of poor blacks in the post-war period, as they received little aid from civil rights organizations and increased repression from the police that culminated in alternative forms of resistance. Both of these works insightfully analyzed the causes of rebellion, displacement that motivated the rebellions, and how each group resisted the perceived oppression. Frederickson's work primarily studied the states of the Deep South, with some discussion offered about states in the Upper South, and it began in the 1930's, continuing to the presidential election in 1968. By covering this period in such detail, she set up the social and political conditions existent in Kelley's Birmingham of the war years and immediate post-war years. The reforms of the New Deal and the economic re-vitalization and modernization of the South during the war years "unleashed forces" that demanded greater racial equality, economic parity, and political participation on behalf of blacks in the South. Kelley focused on the efforts of blacks, both poor and middle-class, in Birmingham demonstrating the agitations and desires of these people and the seg... ... middle of paper ... ... May of 1963. The poor blacks participated in this event, "on their own terms." They taunted the police, retaliated with fists, profanity, rocks, and bottles in a clear demonstration of their contempt for the police. Kari Frederickson's The Dixiecrat Revolt and Robin D. G. Kelley's Race Rebels both demonstrated that similarities occurred between these widely different groups. These two groups were rebelling against perceived threats to their status from mainstream society, both were motivated by the "undemocratic" nature of these threats, and both were displaced from their parent group, be it the Democratic Party or black society in general. These books demonstrated that the rebellions, while not initially successful, led to long-term upheavals, as the Southern racial and political environments grew less segregated and a two-party system developed.

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