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Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era [Paperback]

Patricia Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 22, 1996 0807845647 978-0807845646 1
In the 1930s and 1940s, a loose alliance of blacks and whites, individuals and organizations, came together to offer a radical alternative to southern conservative politics. In Days of Hope, Patricia Sullivan traces the rise and fall of this movement. Using oral interviews with participants in this movement as well as documentary sources, she demonstrates that the New Deal era inspired a coalition of liberals, black activists, labor organizers, and Communist Party workers who sought to secure the New Deal's social and economic reforms by broadening the base of political participation in the South. From its origins in a nationwide campaign to abolish the poll tax, the initiative to expand democracy in the South developed into a regional drive to register voters and elect liberals to Congress. The NAACP, the CIO Political Action Committee, and the Southern Conference for Human Welfare coordinated this effort, which combined local activism with national strategic planning. Although it dramatically increased black voter registration and led to some electoral successes, the movement ultimately faltered, according to Sullivan, because the anti-Communist fervor of the Cold War and a militant backlash from segregationists fractured the coalition and marginalized southern radicals. Nevertheless, the story of this campaign invites a fuller consideration of the possibilities and constraints that have shaped the struggle for racial democracy in America since the 1930s.

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Harvard historian Sullivan carefully details the impact of Roosevelt's later New Deal in the Old South, noting that any step forward often meant two steps back. A case in point, she writes, was Roosevelt's 1936 industrial-union program, spearheaded by the CIO, which ``threatened to undermine the region's tradition of low-wage, nonunion industries'' and stirred up heated opposistion. Efforts by influential northern blacks to hasten civil-rights advances in the South also aroused considerable opposition; when Roosevelt failed to pack the Supreme Court in his second term, Sullivan notes, southern Democrats (with the notable exception of longtime Florida senator Claude Pepper) allied with Republicans to block reform in the region and eventually to remake the Democratic party as a more conservative, anticommunist entity in the postwar era. Other incidents that contributed to a profound white backlash in the South included the famed Scottsboro case of 1930, which drew national attention to the region for a decade, and the Harlan County coal strike of the mid-1930s, to which Sullivan brings fresh insights based on recent documentary work on labor organizing. Of special interest to students of contemporary politics is Sullivan's examination of Henry Wallace's third-party presidential bid in 1948, a campaign that in the author's view, taken with earlier New Deal programs, prefigured Southern civil-rights agitation in later decades; as she writes, ``although little, if any, memory of the New Deal years informed the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the activists of the earlier decades tilled the ground for future change.'' Ultimately, Sullivan notes, civil-rights advances were furthered by African-Americans' participation in WW II, when soldiers who had fought against fascism abroad began to agitate for democracy at home. A dry and sometimes narrow work of history, meant for a specialist audience. (23 illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Days of Hope" is a graceful addition to New Deal, southern, and civil rights historiography."American Studies"

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (April 22, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807845647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807845646
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #812,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patricia Sullivan teaches history at the University of South Carolina and is a fellow in the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. Her books include Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era and Freedom Writer: Virginia Foster Durr, Letters from the Civil Rights Years. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and authoritative May 15, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Dr. Sullivan presents a fascinating account of an important--but often overlooked--era in the American Civil Rights movement. Days of Hope is an authoritative account of the roots of the civil rights struggle. The book is interesting, comprehensive, and impeccably sourced and researched. A must for any student of the movement.
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