University of Leicester
2014_Folwell_EJ_PhD.pdf (1.74 MB)

From massive resistance to new conservatism : opposition to community action programs in Mississippi, 1965-1975

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posted on 2014-03-17, 12:34 authored by Emma Jo Folwell
This thesis uses the War on Poverty’s Community Action Programs as a prism through which to examine the evolution of post-1965 Massive Resistance and its interconnection with the emerging new conservatism. In examining the white relationship with Mississippi’s antipoverty programs, this thesis traces an ‘evolving resistance’ that utilised some of the methods and mechanisms of the earlier Massive Resistance, but which also drew on ostensibly race natural articulations of opposition to social welfare and saw a return to the paternalism characteristic of earlier Southern race relations. In examining the grassroots development of the colour-blind rhetoric that would become a significant trope of conservative opposition to social welfare, this thesis adds a new dimension to the rural Deep South’s contributions to the emerging national conservatism. Further, this thesis offers new insights into the failings of the War on Poverty at the grassroots by placing racial discrimination and intra-racial class divisions at the heart of its analysis of four Community Action Programs. The Community Action Program Southwest Mississippi Opportunities highlights how OEO failings at the local, regional and national levels perpetuated racial discrimination. The white response to Jackson’s Community Action Program, Community Services Association, reveals how interracial middle-class coalitions developed through the program and perpetuated a destructive racial discrimination. Case studies of two statewide programs, Mississippi Action for Progress and Strategic Training and Redevelopment showcase how intra-racial class divisions aided white supremacists shape antipoverty programs from conduits for community action into mechanisms to suppress black activism, as well as offering new insights into the role of white moderates in Mississippi’s altered racial landscape. Finally, this thesis explores the destructive impact of the nascent Mississippi Republican Party and the Nixon Administration on the War on Poverty at the grassroots.



Lewis, George; Johnstone, Andrew

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Historical Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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