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View Diary: Eugene Patterson, A Southerner (24 comments)

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  •  Courageous folks then; where are their equals now? (6+ / 0-)

    I was a white military kid growing up in eastern NC (Klan country) when the Civil Rights movement blossomed.  Like all my peers, I have vivid memories of the haters like Jesse Helms and George Wallace; of the VA county that closed its public schools rather than integrate them; of the indignities (and worse) our black neighbors had to suffer every day because of their color.

    But there was incredible courage to be seen, too.  Of course, it has to start with Rev. King, but Ralph McGill, Gene Patterson, and NC gov. Terry Sanford stood strong and tall against dangerous hate and ignorance.

    With leaders like these, the south and the whole country made great strides, though clearly far short of perfection.

    Now we seem to be going backwards.  Where are leaders with the clear vision, stong leadership, and, yes, unbounded courage, who can take on the ignorance and hate that are rampant today?  The best we've got, while undoubtedly knowledgeable and intelligent, seem to be political triangulators, not courageous leaders.

    Perhaps they're out there, working near-anonymously in their communities, but have no opportunity to extend their influence.  Perhaps the fragmentation of our mass media has made it impossible for anyone to command the attention of a large fraction of the electorate and inspire them to fundamental but necessary change.  (I presently live in Italy and this phenomenon looks exactly the same in the western European democracies, too.)

    Whatever it is, if we can't fill this gap, I fear for the future of civilized life (or life at all) on this planet.

    •  We're here (12+ / 0-)

      But we don't get a lot of support; tragically it is often from communities like this.

      As I indicated in my post, too often the Progressives on this board and elsewhere simply write off the whole region. We need the national party to compete down here.

      It won't be a wasted effort, and if you study the national voting trends it is not a farfetched conclusion that Georgia may be in play nationally in 2016.

      How quickly the South abandons conservativism is as much up to the DailyKos nation as it is up to those who live here.

      •  I don't. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        prettygirlxoxoxo, worldlotus

        I suspect that Texas will flip soon. Most of the major cities do not vote Republican; state demographics are such that Texas will soon be majority minority. The real issue is voter suppression. For how long can Republicans suppress the vote?

        •  Texas is minority-majority now, skywriter. (6+ / 0-)

          The gerrymander alone keeps such illustrious Congresscritters as the  Honorable Randy ("Baby Killer!") Neugebauer in office.

          We have no national Democratic leaders who give a 2nd thought to Texas, or Oklahoma, or Louisiana, or Mississippi, or Georgia. Some make noise about Florida, few about Alabama, nearly none about the Carolinas (should we blame John Edwards?) or even Maryland.

          There's a sort of "it's the South. To hell with it" vibe going on -- and that flies in the face of JFK and Dr King and makes the assassins who gunned them down successful, IMO.

          LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

          by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 11:44:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You are absolutely right (6+ / 0-)

            It's often forgotten that the Civil Rights movement was actually a Southern movement. While there were some courageous people from the North who sacrificed themselves in the battle, it was Southerners like King, Lowery, Jackson and nameless others who bore the brunt.

            When the Kennedy brothers, and other national figures put their life on the line, things got done. But all these sacrifices have been surrendered to the national strategy of a national party that has segregated themselves from the South.

            The greatest demonstration of the power of progressivism would be the liberation of the South from conservativism.  
            We NEED the unity of the party focused on this region, because if we can bust the gerrymander here we can bust it anywhere.

            •  Kennedy Bros. did not put their lives on line (0+ / 0-)

              for civil rights.

              The historical record demonstrates that as attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy, resisted change and did little until he was forced to, by demonstrations in the streets, at lunch counters, at schools and elsewhere, to enforce federal law. RFK advised to go slow on civil rights too and JFK did go slow.

              Yes, both of them were assassinated but that had zero to do with their political stand on civil rights or on stopping segregation.


              •  Oswald notwithstanding, JFK had some mighty (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                powerful enemies -- and while I'm not about to offer an alternative theory of events in Dallas 50 years ago come November, I will simply point out that the man who slew Martin Luther King has at least partly succeeded in stopping the spread of equality. The South used to be a Democratic stronghold, called "the Solid South."

                LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:57:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  I'd forgotten that, BlackSheep1 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Whether through gerrymandering or making it more difficult for people to vote -- this is a strategy that will not prevail in the long run if the US is to remain a democracy.

            Here's a link from May 2012 to Texas having arrived as a majority-minority state.

      •  RE: We're Here (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Illinois IRV, myboo, GarySeven, greenalley

        Yes we're here.  I agree with you so much.  I voted for Terry Sanford in my first election and rabidly opposed Jessie Helms but we were vastly outnumbered.  Despite how it seems we've made progress.  I remember the "Colored Only" drinking fountains and restrooms and separate waiting rooms in bus and train stations.  I remember the part of Asheville that was called "Nigger Town" and the separate but not equal colored high school.   I remember a billboard outside of Goldsborough that said "John Birch Country love it or leave.  I remember when WRAL TV in Raleigh's editorialist was Jessie Helms before he went to congress and that same TV station signed of not with the National Anthem but with Dixie.  (Yes TV stations once signed off usually at midnight.)  I first met and shook the hands of a black person for the first time when I was 19 and had gone to college.  Not because I had anything against backs, just because the there were none around in the rural area where I lived.  Blacks lived in "Nigger Town" and God forbid a white teenager should go there.  No telling what would happen to you for god's sake.  

        So OK the South still has lots of problems but ladies and gents it ain't as bad as it once was.  I no longer live there but I did grow up in Western NC and all the ragging on the stereotypical south and southerners grieves my soul so very much.

        Without making excuses there are historical and cultural reasons the South is more authoritarian oriented which translates to conservative and maybe it will never be as liberal as the Left Coast where I now reside but it's where I come from and I know for a fact that not everybody south of the Mason-Dixon line is a racist, homophobic, fundamentalist cracker.  The south is worth redemption which is a slow process but either we are all Brother's and Sister's or not.  Either we are a nation united or not and I thought the blood of 600,000 settled that question.  

        White Southern progressiveness wasn't born with Eugene Patterson although he was a bright and shining star and it won't die with his passing.  If all you look for are fools and foolish things from the South that's what you will find.  

        You know, we could learn to get along, at least better, and it can begin just the way it did with me when I shook the hand of a fellow black teen and learned that Walter and I could actually be friends and accomplish some wonderful things together.   How about maybe looking for some Southern hands to shake instead of relegating them all to "Southern Town" if you get my drift.

        A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

        by YellerDog on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 03:01:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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