Roy V. Harris and the Lost World of White Nationalism in the American South
Speaker: Daryl Scott
Date: March 28, 2008
Time: 12:30 PM
Daryl Scott, Professor of History, Howard University
Daryl Scott is Professor and Chair of the History Department at Howard University. He specializes in modern United States history. His research interests include white nationalism as well as African-American displacement in the 20th-century South, topics that shall be explored in his two forthcoming works: The Lost World of White Nationalism: White Self-Rule in the American South, 1865–1970 and After Cotton: African Americans in Blackbelt Georgia, 1945–1970. Professor Scott is the editor of Carter G. Woodson's The Mis-Education of the Negro. He is also the author of Contempt and Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880–1996, which won the 1998 James A. Rawley Prize for the best work in race relations.
In the Civil Rights Era, Roy V. Harris was only second to Herman Talmadge, Jr. as the face of white supremacy in Georgia. A leading member of the Citizens Council in the 1950s, Harris had dedicated his life not simply to upholding segregation but also to opposing the inclusion of African Americans into the political community. Yet Harris had not always been a die-hard white supremacist. During his political career, which stretched from the 1920s through the mid-1940s, Harris had served as a political kingmaker as a state legislator from Georgia. For a number of those years, he had aligned himself with the liberal forces of the New Deal and signed on to ideals of civic rather than racial nationalism. Through examining the career of Roy V. Harris, this essay seeks to shed light on the decline of the ideal of white rule in the American South.