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Joe T. Patterson and the White South's DilemmaEvolving Resistance to Black Advancement$
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Robert E., Jr. Luckett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781496802699

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496802699.001.0001

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The Dilemma of the White South

The Dilemma of the White South

(p.3) Introduction The Dilemma of the White South
Joe T. Patterson and the White South's Dilemma

Robert E. Luckett

University Press of Mississippi

This book explores the history of white resistance to black advancement in the South by focusing on the career of Joe T. Patterson, who led the legal defense for Jim Crow in Mississippi as the state's attorney general from 1956 to 1969. It considers how Patterson became embroiled in the crisis involving James Meredith, an African American who was seeking admission to the University of Mississippi. In particular, it examines Patterson's decision to desert the ranks of Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett and his circle of white power brokers who were determined to keep Meredith out of Ole Miss. It argues that Patterson's defiance of the Barnett camp was born out of the practical segregation that grappled with the dilemma common to white southerners: how to maintain an artificially elevated position in southern society without resorting to violence or intimidation. The book shows that Patterson's role in the desegregation of public schools is a good example of the growing complexity of white reactions to the social and political progress of African Americans.

Keywords:   white power, white resistance, Joe T. Patterson, Mississippi, James Meredith, Ross Barnett, practical segregation, desegregation, African Americans, black advancement

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