Dixie's Forgotten People: The South's Poor Whites

Dixie's Forgotten People: The South's Poor Whites

Dixie's Forgotten People: The South's Poor Whites

Dixie's Forgotten People: The South's Poor Whites

Synopsis

Protestant residents of the Bible Belt, mostly Anglo-Saxon in origin, form part of the most ethnically homogeneous region of the United States. Yet if ethnicity defines a group of racially and historically related people who share a common culture, Southern poor whites obviously are a distinct group. Poor whites have been isolated from mainstream white Southern culture and have been in turn stereotyped by the dominant culture (as rednecks and Holy Rollers), discriminated against, and misunderstood. In their isolation, they have developed a unique subculture and defended it with a tenacity and pride that puzzles and confuses the larger society. Written twenty-five years ago, this book was one scholar's attempt to understand these people and their culture. For this new edition, Wayne Flynt has provided a new introduction and an up-to-date bibliography.

Excerpt

The idea for this series of books took shape a decade ago, when the editors were colleagues at the University of Georgia. Our memorable luncheon gatherings, which frequently included Willard Gatewood, Melvin Herndon, Charles Alexander, Bob Griffith, Roger Nichols, Emory Thomas, and Will Holmes, were filled with anecdotal testimonials about our own histories. The two of us were fascinated by one another's provincialism--one having become a young adult before meeting a northerner or a Jew or a Catholic, the other having moved to Georgia without ever riding a mule or attending a revival. It has increasingly occurred to us that what one teaches about American history and what students learn in American history courses are strongly related (probably rightly so) to the location of one's university. Students in Alabama who have never seen a subway, or much of an urban ghetto, or a first-generation immigrant still flock to courses on the Civil War. And New Jersey classes are filled with students who have never seen a cotton field, a Klansman, or a mimosa tree. So one person's American history centers on the Taft-Hartley Act, while another's defines the Wheeler-Howard Act, the Tennessee Valley Authority, or the gay rights movement as the central issue of the American experience. We need to understand ourselves, but if we would know our country, we must do more.

This series of books studies one key level of American loyalties, the numerous and often ill-defined minority groups that exist in fact or in myth. In the broadest sense humans identify with the common suffer-

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