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September 14, 2013


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I imagine that Dr. Hackney would be glad that the importance of his Alabama roots figured in your post. Once, praising another historian’s Pulitzer Prize winning work on Civil Rights, he told his sister in law that the breadth of the research was impeccable--the work could have been improved only if the writer had been born in Alabama.

As far as segregation seeing the last stand in Alabama (or elsewhere) it is sobering to think that Rosa Parks almost attended Dr. Hackney’s wedding. She was a friend of his wife’s parents (Cliff and Virginia Durr) and had altered the wedding dress. Not long before the ceremony, the minister refused to officiate unless Mrs. Parks somehow acted according to “her station” and either dressed like a servant or stayed in a separate section of the church. The problem was never resolved and Mrs. Parks apparently decided to stay away to avoid the disruption, press attention, or both.

I doubt that the Greeks have made the last stand for segregation—even if it was just for racial segregation— but it would be nice to think that it was the penultimate one.

Alfred Brophy

Thanks for this, CM -- I didn't know any of those stories about Hackney. I agree that there's something about having spent a lot of time in the south that improves the focus of southern history. (I can't speak to the having been born in the south part of this, but I could see how that might very well be true.) There is the potential problem of too much fondness for a subject bending our perspective -- but being a part of (or at least immersed in) a culture is a huge benefit in studying it. And historians from the south can speak in terms and with nuance that can be heard by their audience.

As to the Alabama sorority story: I predicted a week ago that whatever alumnae stood in the way of integration would be unceremoniously tossed off the boards of their sororities (or find that their work and/or family obligations prevented them from continuing on the board) and that next year we'd see progress on this. I'm glad to see that at least as to the progress part of this I was off by 11 months and 3 weeks. What's not clear to me -- and I very much hope that the Crimson White will continue its coverage of this -- is just how many people stood in the sorority door (so to speak). Some of the reporting I've seen suggests it was less than a handful. I like to think that was the case.

I am grateful for every ray of sunshine and so am of course heartened by recent events in Tuscaloosa. I want to hear the story of how the administration fit into this picture and whether they were -- as I hope -- leading the push or were simply responding once it became clear that no one in power in the state supported the status quo.

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