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“Is The South That Bad?” – Civil Rights And Race Relations In America – 1949 – Hodding Carter – Past Daily Reference Room

Civil Rights - 1949
Civil Rights and Race Relations in 1949 – It depended on who you talked to.

“Is The South That Bad?” – Lecture by Hodding Carter II – University Of Illinois – March 2, 1949 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Civil Rights and Race Relations in America as it stood in 1949. The years after World War II were significant on many different levels. The East-West friction that was the Cold War was gaining momentum, as Communism was sweeping across Eastern Europe and about to change the face of China. Former Colonies were seeking independence as those Colonial powers were no longer able to maintain a grip on those nations throughout Africa and Southeast Asia who were under their control. Europe as well as Asia were emerging from the devastating affects of the War, a war that disrupted entire nations and laid waste vast cities. And for its own part, America was undergoing a transformation too. A transformation in Civil Rights that began before the War but was gaining momentum as a result of the war. And in the Post-War era, motions to integrate the armed forces, introduce legislation that outlawed lynching and a movement afoot to integrate American schools and cities and to abolish those prohibitive laws to prevent African-Americans from voting and where they chose to live. Measures and movements that were met with skepticism and hostility.

The attempts at change were not met with open arms – particularly in the South, where segregation was rigidly in place and the right to vote was either denied or made impossible to achieve. Where schools were segregated and even drinking fountains were designated for Whites and “Negros”.

Segregation was deeply rooted in the South, as it had been for generations. The speaker for this lecture, Hodding Carter II (father of President Carter’s Assistant Secretary of State Hodding Carter III), recalled that the grandfathers of his and Coleman Griffith’s (who introduced Carter at the beginning of the lecture) had fought each other during the Civil War on opposing sides, and so the lecture and the circumstances were particularly notable. But he went on to add the issue of Civil Rights and the resistance to it were not shared by all Southerners and that some, those representing a comparative minority, were casting a shadow on whatever progress was trying to be made in the area of race relations and Civil Rights in the South.

It would be a long and bitter struggle, and in 1949 the issue of Civil Rights was going to become a major issue for America in the decades to come.

This is what it sounded like, as Hodding Carter addressed an audience at the University of Illinois during a lecture series which took place on March 2, 1949.

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