Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, as the Civil Rights movement gained strength, white resistance to it grew as well. White resistance took a variety of forms, and targeted not only blacks, but also sympathetic whites.
Soon after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, local business and political leaders organized White Citizens' Councils throughout the South. Council members retaliated against integration and equal rights advocates by foreclosing mortgages, refusing loans, and firing workers. State and regional networks and a national Citizens' Council of America coordinated these efforts. James Eastland, state senator from Mississippi said, "In the last few years, there has been a number of backsliders on the segregation issue... The Citizen's Council is out to utterly destroy those people [civil rights advocates]."
Politicians throughout the South used their power to resist the Civil Rights movement. In 1956, one year after the United States Supreme Court made its implementation decision in Brown, 100 southern congressmen signed the Southern Manifesto, attacking the Court and pledging their noncompliance with its decision: "We pledge ourselves to use all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation."
White resistance also took the form of widespread violence and intimidation tactics, spearheaded by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and by local police forces. According to one Klan leader, integration would destroy the white and black races, producing "a conglomerated, mulatto, mongrel type of people." During the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, Ku Klux Klan members murdered three Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) volunteers (two white, one black) who were investigating the burning of a black church. On March 7, 1965, Sheriff Jim Clark and the Selma, Alabama police violently stopped a peaceful voting rights march. Over 60 marchers were injured during the confrontation. The violence was televised nationally, and the day became known as "Bloody Sunday."
In many cases, white resistance worked to the advantage of civil rights leaders. Not only did images of violent resistance expose the deep racism that existed in the South, but they pointed out the hypocrisy of the nation's Cold War policies. During this period, the United States government used the rhetoric of freedom and democracy as a means of gaining foreign allies in the struggle against communism. Civil rights leaders hoped to put pressure on the federal government by publicly exposing the fact that the United States was promoting liberty abroad while denying African Americans civil rights at home.
What kinds of changes were white people resisting? What were some examples of white resistance Compare and contrast the tactics used by those who resisted desegregation and those who worked for desegregation. Which side had economic and
political power, and how might that have affected their tactics?