Search ETDs:
Awakening the Nation: Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis, the White Countermovement, and the Rise of Colorblind Conservatism, 1947-1964.
Curtis, Jesse

2014, MA, Kent State University, College of Arts and Sciences / Department of History.
This thesis argues that Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis and the White supremacist forces of the Deep South that he embodied actively contributed to the rise of the contemporary racial order. Building on the tenets of Critical Race Theory and recent historiography on the emergence of colorblind racial discourse, this study situates Stennis as a national figure rather than a provincial one. Embracing colorblind rhetoric at an early date, Stennis defended White supremacy by positioning himself as a guardian of the Constitution, limited government, and individual freedom. In critical battles ranging from the Truman civil rights program to Brown v. Board of Education to the civil rights acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964, Stennis rejected demagoguery and public grandstanding. He sought to make respectable and appealing public arguments while quietly working behind the scenes to undermine the civil rights cause. Stennis participated in a White countermovement that successfully resisted the civil rights movement on key fronts and shaped the way Americans thought and spoke about race and rights in the post-civil rights movement era. He believed White Americans nationwide had more in common than they often realized. As a result he attempted to reach out to Whites beyond the South, in search of an alliance that would preserve as much of the old racial order as possible. By 1964, even as he suffered one of his starkest legislative defeats, the increasing prominence of nationwide White opposition to the civil rights movement and the ascension of a self-consciously conservative national movement around the candidacy of Barry Goldwater vindicated Stennis's long-term strategy. Far from being isolated and backward, as figures of the Deep South are often popularly portrayed, Stennis and the forces he personified helped to shape the boundaries of racial change in modern America.
Elizabeth Smith-Pryor, Dr. (Advisor)
Kenneth Bindas, Dr. (Committee Member)
Clarence Wunderlin, Dr. (Committee Member)
186 p.

Recommended Citations

Hide/Show APA Citation

Curtis, J. (2014). Awakening the Nation: Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis, the White Countermovement, and the Rise of Colorblind Conservatism, 1947-1964.. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

Hide/Show MLA Citation

Curtis, Jesse. "Awakening the Nation: Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis, the White Countermovement, and the Rise of Colorblind Conservatism, 1947-1964.." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2014. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 27 Jul 2017.

Hide/Show Chicago Citation

Curtis, Jesse "Awakening the Nation: Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis, the White Countermovement, and the Rise of Colorblind Conservatism, 1947-1964.." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2014. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

Files

thesis final.pdf (535.36 KB) View|Download