Thesis Title: Motherhood and Manhood: Gender in the White Citizens Councils
The White Citizens’ Councils began to form in the United States after the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board Supreme Court ruling, which declared legislation mandating racially-segregated public schools to be unconstitutional. The Councils sought to maintain segregation, prevent advancement in civil rights for African Americans, and uphold the advantages that whiteness afforded.
My research explores the under-researched role of gender in Councils. It seeks to uncover, first, the role of gender in the tactics and activities of Council groups, including assessing the role of masculinity as part of segregationist resistance, and uncovering the role of women in the groups. Although the popular memory of the segregationist movement centres around men, women played varied roles in the Councils, and their activities raises interesting issues about femininity and constructions of Southern womanhood and its role in influencing politics. Second, it analyses the role of gender in Council propaganda, which used gendered rhetoric and visual portrayals to construct the archetypical and respectable segregationist, denigrated integrationist men and women, and adapted long-standing gendered stereotypes of African Americans. Third, my research analyses photographs and descriptions of Council events, meetings, and other activities to analyse the public image sought by members of the Councils, examining the self-representation of segregationists and how this pertained to gender.
An analysis of gender in the Citizens' Councils reveals important elements about the segregationist movement, including the overlooked role of women, variations between different Councils and over periods of time, and the intersecting role of gender and social class. Studying segregationists allows for better understanding of the civil rights movement by placing it in the context of the opposition it faced, and allows for better understanding of manifestations of white backlash in the present-day.
Supervisors and Institutions
- 'Motherhood and Manhood: Gender in the White Citizens' Councils', poster presented at the M3C Research Festival, May 2017.
- '"Without Hoods": The Aesthetics of Segregationists' - University of Leicester History, Politics and International Relations conference, May 2017.
- ' "White Men Built the United States for You": Race and Gender in The Citizen Magazine' - East Midlands History Network Conference, University of Lincoln, January 2017.
- 'Motherhood and Manhood: Race and Gender in The Citizen magazine'. Paper presented at the inaugural East Midlands History Network conference, on the topic of Identity. January 2017.
- 'White Space: Racial Rhetoric in The Citizen Magazine, 1961-79'. Paper presented at the 'Radical America: Revolutionary, Dissident and Extremist Magazines' conference at the University of Sussex, May 2016.
- 'Tyranny, Traitors, and Whiteness: the Use of Shame by the White Citizens’ Councils'. Presented at the UCL JFIGs conference on Shame, March 2015.
- Review of 'The FBI Files: The True Story of Mississippi Burning', an essay for the History on the Box blog at the University of Leicester. The site features articles about television programmes useful for the teaching and learning of history. (28/10/2016)
- Conference Review: 'Civil Rights Documentary Cinema in the 1960s: Transatlantic Conversations on History, Race and Rights'. (24/06/2016) (Co-writer with Scott Weightman).
- ‘Saving a Nation: Roosevelt's Fireside Chats’, History is Now Magazine, August 2014. In this article I explored Franklin Roosevelt's radio public communications both before and during the Second World War.
- Contributor - University of Leicester Black History project. Archival research. (November 2017 -)
- Project Facilitator - Journey to Justice: Nottingham. Prepared and led sessions teaching a group of teenagers about the US Civil Rights Movement, its contemporary relevance, and issues of social justice at the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham. (Oct 2016 - March 2017)
- Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS)
- British Association for American Studies (BAAS)
- Social History Society
Other Research Interests:
- Whiteness and white backlash politics
- The US South and Southern identity
- American Conservatism
- Richard Nixon
- US Politics
- PhD History - University of Leicester (Ongoing: 2016-present)
- MA United States Studies: History and Politics - University College London (2014-2015)
- BA History and Politics - Queen Mary University of London (2011-2014)
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