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The Senator and the SharecropperThe Freedom Struggles of James O. Eastland and Fannie Lou Hamer$
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Chris Myers Asch

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807872024

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878057_asch

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“From Cotton—to Communism—to Segregation!”: The Senator's Rise to Power

“From Cotton—to Communism—to Segregation!”: The Senator's Rise to Power

(p.132) 5 “From Cotton—to Communism—to Segregation!”: The Senator's Rise to Power
The Senator and the Sharecropper

Chris Myers Asch

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on Ruleville Middle School, which once sat in the heart of white Ruleville, a school where the Eastland children and their white friends studied and socialized. Safely ensconced in an all-white neighborhood, the school stood for decades as a symbol of the Sunflower County way of life, a segregated institution supported by the entire white community and protected by the white officials who monopolized political power. You would have looked in vain for a black student's picture in any class until more than a decade after the Supreme Court's momentous 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Though the decision had little immediate impact on the racial composition of Sunflower County schools, Brown defined an era and catalyzed the white resistance movement. The decision launched James Eastland's national political career, transforming him from a little-known senator, a farmer-politician with visions of retirement, into the South's most visible segregationist politician, a nationally recognized symbol of racism and resistance.

Keywords:   Ruleville Middle School, Brown v. Board of Education, segregationist, racism, James Eastland

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