Date of Graduation

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

History

Advisor

Jeannie Whayne

Committee Member

Angie Maxwell

Second Committee Member

Randall B. Woods

Keywords

Gender, Race, Racism, US History, US South, White Supremacy

Abstract

This dissertation examines women in the Massive Resistance movement and the Ku Klux Klan of the classic Civil Rights period, 1954-1968. Specifically, it illustrates the way in which these women used their assigned gender roles as women, and specifically as mothers, to further white supremacist goals. White women have been an integral part of white supremacy in the United States from the beginning, yet are rarely portrayed as such. White supremacist movements are most often viewed through a male lens and gender in white supremacy is most often focused on how white men perform gender within the movements. While that is changing, with a growing catalog of scholarship on women in the Second Ku Klux Klan (1915-1929) and racist women in contemporary times, there is still a dearth of research being published on white supremacist women of the Classic Civil Rights period. The works that are available thus far are focused exclusively on the women of the Massive Resistance movement.

As women won gains in other areas of society, some translated those gains into the white supremacist movement beginning with the Second Klan, but particularly so with the Third Klan (1954-1979) and the Massive Resistance movement. This work argues that though some women were taking a more public role in the work to promote and preserve white supremacy, that they still did so within carefully constructed gender roles, and in socially acceptable ways. These white women used many pathways to secure the racial hierarchy, but always did so without threatening the sexual hierarchy. These women were satisfied with taking a back seat to the white men in their lives in exchange for the benefits that accrued with white supremacy.

Available for download on Thursday, July 22, 2021

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