Southern Solidarity: The Southern Left and Internationalism, 1960–90

Friday, January 5, 2018: 4:30 PM
Virginia Suite A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Robert Greene II, University of South Carolina
Leftists in the American South who operated during and after the Civil Rights Movement often used solidarity with dissidents across the world as fuel for their own anti-racist and anti-capitalist campaigns. “Southern Solidarity: The Southern Left and Internationalism, 1960-1990” studies how Southern radicals argued that their movements at home were linked to opposition movements around the world. The Civil Rights, Black Power, Labor, and anti-Apartheid movements all provide examples of how Southern leftists, often marginalized both within Southern and radical politics, used the entire world as their political and intellectual stage. Events such as the Orangeburg Massacre of 1968 and intellectual moments such as the debates over Southern identity in the 1970s were both key moments in Southern leftists seeing themselves as part of a larger, international movement.

  This solidarity manifested itself on the ground in local campaigns, too. My paper will also argue for the need to look at local left-wing movements across the South that rose in opposition to Jim Crow segregation and, later, the Vietnam War. For these activists, anti-colonial struggles in Africa and Asia did not seem so far away. On the contrary, they often tied together the fight against racism at home to the struggle against white supremacist regimes in South Africa and Rhodesia. Ultimately, “Southern Solidarity” points to a need to situate Southern radical campaigns in the larger international context of the late Cold War period. Like their forbearers before World War II who were part of the Popular Front, these radicals always saw themselves fighting local challenges that were part of larger problems.

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