In minimizing the grass-roots work of women, the framing of white supremacist politics was no different. Just as Ms. Robinson and Ms. Gilmore led the 1955-56 boycott of buses in Alabama, in the 1970s, women like Louise Day Hicks led the antibusing crusades in the North, in an effort to avoid the desegregation of Boston public schools. While men debated in legislative chambers and listened to challenges on the bench, women headed to school cafeterias, playgrounds and PTA meetings, doing the bulk of the behind-the-scenes work of supporting the politics of segregation.Liberals have long wanted "equal rights" to be a struggle that unifies all oppressed groups – minorities, women, the poor – but of course it does not work like that at all. The anti-busing movement of the 1970s in particular was very much a women's movement.
White women organized precinct gatherings to pressure their politicians to uphold Jim Crow laws. They transformed their homes into centers of bureaucratic efficiency — copying fliers, assigning neighborhoods for petition drives and scheduling protest shifts at elementary schools and bus garages. . . .
The point, here, is neither to catalog nor to celebrate white women’s contributions to white supremacist politics. Instead, their work should change how we understand history. It is easy to denounce the racist pronouncements and white-supremacist politics of a George Wallace or a Roy Moore. But what white women teach us is that white-supremacist politics is sustained at a much more grass-roots level by our neighbors, school boards and even friends. White women have made white supremacy a much more formidable and long-lasting force in American society, sustaining it at both the local and national levels.
Friday, February 2, 2018
The Women of Segregation
Fascinating article by Elizabeth Gillespie McRae in the Times: