Massive Resistance and Media Suppression: The Segregationist Response to Dissent during the Civil Rights Movement

By David J. Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Way We See It

From the early stages of massive resistance, the importance of the press and public opinion was clear. In addition to maintaining support for opposition to the civil rights movement in the South itself, both the press and the public outside of the region were targeted by segregationists. It was believed that northern public opinion must either be won to favor the cause of massive resistance, or at the very least, be kept in a state of ambivalence. The importance of public opinion outside of the South was directly related to influencing the actions of the courts and federal government. If northern public opinion could be won over or neutralized, George Lewis argues, “any presidential administration preparing to flex the muscles of federal power or enforce desegregation might instead allow those muscles to atrophy and take no firm action.”1 As a result, both public opinion and the press became primary targets for leaders of massive resistance.

Judge Tom P. Brady provided one of the earliest and highest profile responses to the Brown ruling in his 1954 book, Black Monday: Segregation or Amalgamation … America Has Its Choice, which unabashedly defended segregation on the grounds of white supremacy and provided suggestions for an organized southern response. The book would serve as an early catalyst for massive resistance groups such as the Citizen’s Council and be repeatedly cited by segregationists throughout the civil rights movement. Judge Brady placed considerable emphasis on countering the propaganda attacks waged by communists,

1 George Lewis, Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement (London: Hoddler Arnold, 2006), 108. Book cited hereafter as The White Response.

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