These chapters are concerned with what may prove to have been the most important change to take place in the South in the decade following the Second World War. These have been eventful years: one thinks of the Dixiecrat revolt, the growth of industry, the hesitant steps toward a two-party system, the furor following the Supreme Court's 1954 decision against segregation in the public schools. Perhaps the most basic long-run change in the South, however, has been the return of the Southern Negro to active participation in politics. On the whole the change has come gradually, and its full effects are only now beginning to be felt. These are important not only for their impact on the status of the Negro in the South, but for understanding the changing composition of Southern politics. Finally, in view of the current debate over school segregation it is instructive to consider what federal court intervention has and has not been able to accomplish toward securing Negro rights in the political sphere.
Just ten years before the "Dread School Decision" of 1954 the Supreme Court decided the case that spelled the beginning of the end for legal exclusion of Negroes from Democratic primary elections in the South. Negro voting had been restricted in the post- Reconstruction period by various extralegal means. It had eventually been almost entirely eliminated by the new suffrage requirements adopted by most Southern states toward the end of the nineteenth century. Since early in the present century, however, the greatest single bulwark against Negro political participation had been the legal fiction that the Democratic party was a private "club" that could hold