Thursday, March 3, 2011

Scarlett's Rainbow

Great to be visiting Legal History, thanks to Mary for the invitation! While chipping away at a new project on southern moderates & civil rights, I came across Sharon Davies' recent book, Rising Road: A True Tale of Love, Race, and Religion in America on anti-Catholicism and the Klan in Alabama in the 1920s. A great read, the book has pushed me to question how Catholics generally responded to the Klan in the 1920s and 30s. For example, did Margaret Mitchell, a Catholic, intentionally make Scarlett O'Hara Catholic in order to undermine the Klan's claims to Anglo Saxon, Protestant hegemony in 1920s Atlanta? While her black characters remain racist caricatures (as Grace Elizabeth Hale shows brilliantly in Making Whiteness), Mitchell's white characters seem to paint Protestants (Ashley and Melanie) as weak, meanwhile elevating Catholics and white ethnics (the "swarthy" Rhett Butler) as saviors of the New South. Could this help explain southern moderate Lewis F. Powell, Jr.'s bizarre mention of whites as a conglomeration of “various minority groups,” including “Austrian resident aliens,” “white Anglo-Saxon Protestants,” and “Celtic Irishmen,” in short Scarlett’s people – in Regents v. Bakke in 1978?


Anonymous said...

There is a book about a 1924 incident in South Bend, Indiana, involving Catholic students of the University of Notre Dame who challenged (and got into fisticuffs with) the local Klan. I read it a few years ago when I was a student at ND, and enjoyed it.

The book was called Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan, by Todd Tucker (Loyola Press, 2004).

John McGreevy's works also deal with Catholicism and race in the 20th century, but I don't recall that they're necessarily focused on the Klan. See especially Parish Boundaries: The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth Century Urban North (University of Chicago Press, 1996).

sara said...

Here the history of my childhood parish, the Cathedral of Christ the King, may be of interest:


The first Eucharistic celebration of Christ the King parish was held on August 15, 1936 in honor of the Feast of The Assumption by the founding pastor Father Joseph P. Moylan. The site selected for Christ the King consisted of about four acres on Peachtree Road between Peachtree Way and East Wesley Road. The land, with the existing white mansion built in 1916 by Edward M. Durant, had been the national headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan.

[end quote]