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Iron and SteelClass, Race, and Community in Birmingham, Alabama, 1875-1920$
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Henry M. McKiven Jr.

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780807845240

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807879719_mckiven

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(p.167) Conclusion
Iron and Steel

Henry M. Mckiven

University of North Carolina Press

This book concludes by showing how Birmingham's promoters confronted problems of race and class relations directly when they articulated the vision of the city they hoped to create. They assured Alabamians that African American workers would fill the most menial jobs in the iron and steel industry, freeing whites to achieve as much as their talents would allow. Whites of all classes would join together, united by their interest in the subordination of blacks and their pursuit of prosperity. Racial oppression, then, would shield Birmingham from the class conflict that had long plagued older industrial centers in the United States and Europe. This New South variant of the “mudsill” theory of social order has been the source of a long-standing historiographical tradition. Historians, for many years, have cited such booster rhetoric to support the argument that southern elites manipulated the racism of the white masses to dominate them as well as African Americans.

Keywords:   Birmingham's promoters, race, class relations, African American workers, Alabamians, racial oppression

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