Monday, February 18, 2013

Smith on Anderson on Little Rock

"The Canary in the Mine": 1950s Little Rock as the Testing Ground for Orchestrated Resistance to School Desegregation, is a review written by Robert S. Smith, Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has published an H-Policy review of Karen Anderson's Little Rock: Race and Resistance at Central High School (2010), which appeared in the Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America Series of the Princeton University Press.  Smith writes:
As Karen Anderson shows in Little Rock, resistance in the city would shape resistance to school desegregation across the South, and ultimately nationwide over the next half-century. The Little Rock crisis provided a blueprint for subsequent strategies to resist Brown, and served "as a site for the creation of a class-conscious thinking about race that would inform 'color-blind' law in the South and the nation long after the decision in Brown v. Board of Education." Anderson documents the efforts of working-class whites, predominately segregationists; the middle class, predominately moderates; and business elites, respectively, to shape a vision of school reform that best fit their class-based ideologies and agendas. Anderson's contribution to the historiography of school desegregation is timely, interesting, and rather disturbing, given that she documents the emergence of a clear and purposeful blueprint for undermining meaningful public school desegregation, while foes of desegregation nominally accepted the changing legal climate.  Anderson also explores the "gendered political rhetoric and iconography" of the three classes into which she divides white Arkansans.
More.  Hat tip: H-Law