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Resisting Equality: The Citizens' Council, 1954-1989

Stephanie R Rolph

ISBN 10: 0807169153 / ISBN 13: 9780807169155
Published by LSU Press
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Title: Resisting Equality: The Citizens' Council, ...

Publisher: LSU Press

Binding: Hardback

Book Condition: New

About this title


In Resisting Equality Stephanie R. Rolph examines the history of the Citizens' Council, an organization committed to coordinating opposition to desegregation and black voting rights. In the first comprehensive study of this racist group, Rolph follows the Citizens' Council from its establishment in the Mississippi Delta, through its expansion into other areas of the country and its success in incorporating elements of its agenda into national politics, to its formal dissolution in 1989.

Founded in 1954, two months after the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Council spread rapidly in its home state of Mississippi. Initially, the organization relied on local chapters to monitor signs of black activism and take action to suppress that activism through economic and sometimes violent means. As the decade came to a close, however, the Council's influence expanded into Mississippi's political institutions, silencing white moderates and facilitating a wave of terror that severely obstructed black Mississippians' participation in the civil rights movement. As the Citizens' Council reached the peak of its power in Mississippi, its ambitions extended beyond the South. Alliances with like-minded organizations across the country supplemented waning influence at home, and the Council movement found itself in league with the earliest sparks of conservative ascension, cultivating consistent messages of grievance against minority groups and urging the necessity of white unity. Much more than a local arm of white terror, the Council's work intersected with anticommunism, conservative ideology, grassroots activism, and Radical Right organizations that facilitated its journey from the margins into mainstream politics.

Perhaps most crucially, Rolph examines the extent to which the organization survived the successes of the civil rights movement and found continued relevance even after the Council's campaign to preserve state-sanctioned forms of white supremacy ended in defeat. Using the Council's own materials, papers from its political allies, oral histories, and newspaper accounts, Resisting Equality illuminates the motives and mechanisms of this destructive group.


Stephanie R. Rolph has mined a variety of unexamined and underappreciated sources to reconsider the history of the Citizens' Council in Mississippi, its birthplace, where leaders dreamed up the organization's most fetid and far-reaching ambitions. This fresh account of the origins and evolution of the Council is important reading for anyone interested in the history of white supremacy and right-wing politics in twentieth-century America.--Joseph Crespino, author of Strom Thurmond's America: A History

In her captivating, well-researched study, Stephanie R. Rolph traces the Citizens' Council's efforts to build regional, national, and ultimately global white supremacist networks--networks capable of withstanding such 'failures' as desegregation and anti-apartheid. In so doing, Rolph helps us better understand how a seemingly defeated ideology can reappear again and again, unbowed by its losses.--Nicole Hemmer, author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics

For those who think they know the story of the Citizens' Council movement, Stephanie R. Rolph's Resisting Equality will come as a revelation. In her meticulously researched account of the Council and its leadership, Rolph shows how advocates of white supremacy survived the end of segregation by deemphasizing explicit racism and joining hands with elements of the growing national conservative movement that rested upon white identity and a fierce hostility to federal social welfare policies that were seen as favoring nonwhites.--Dan T. Carter, author of The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics

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