The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 15

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 15

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 15

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 15

Synopsis

Rev. ed. of: Encyclopedia of Southern culture. 1991.

Excerpt

Representations of the historical South often feature cotton crops in the fields, the rural crossroads store, and the country church—all reflecting the importance of rural life for most southerners. But the urban South was a significant component of southern life from early on. Coastal cities like Savannah and Charleston connected southern colonies to the Atlantic world and its trade in slaves and staple crops, which would come to define the region. Cities along the Gulf Coast reflected enduring French and Spanish influences now seen as formative in those region–s of the South. Later, inland river towns like Memphis and Nashville became crucial transportation and commercial crossroads as well as home to world-class musical cultures. Birmingham and Richmond supported industrial enterprises that brought modernization to the region, and Atlanta’s growth led to its iconic role as regional leader by the early 20th century. Scenes of southern history played out not just on the plantations and in the small towns of the South but in cities as well. the slave markets of Charleston and Natchez, the Confederate government in Montgomery and Richmond, Sherman’s burning of Atlanta, yellow fever epidemics in Memphis and New Orleans, unemployment lines in southern cities that dramatized the impact of the Great Depression, World War II’s booming urban areas like Mobile and Biloxi with their military bases and defense plants, and the litany of civil rights sites, from Montgomery’s Rosa Parks, to Jackson’s hostile reception to Freedom Riders, to Birmingham’s dogs attacking peaceful demonstrators, to Memphis’s garbage strike that led to Martin Luther King’s assassination—cities were staging grounds for events that anchor the broader southern imagination.

The urban South has come to play an even larger role than earlier as the South has lived through turbulent changes in the last few decades. the Urbanization volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture responds to these changes with a special focus on contemporary cities and the processes that are making them vibrant 21st-century communities. Globalization, gentrification, immigration, population change redevelopment, suburbanization, and white flight are all thematic articles that analyze the ways that southern cities remain in the process of development. the editors give due attention to urban problems, with entries on crime and delinquency, deindustrialization, resegregation, gangs, poverty, homelessness, and the underclass. the volume explores such concrete urban institutions and spaces as banks, schools, medical cen-

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