During the civil rights era, Atlanta thought of itself as "The City Too Busy to Hate," a rare place in the South where the races lived and thrived together. Over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, however, so many whites fled the city for the suburbs that Atlanta earned a new nickname: "The City Too Busy Moving to Hate."
In this reappraisal of racial politics in modern America, Kevin Kruse explains the causes and consequences of "white flight" in Atlanta and elsewhere. Seeking to understand segregationists on their own terms, White Flight moves past simple stereotypes to explore the meaning of white resistance. In the end, Kruse finds that segregationist resistance, which failed to stop the civil rights movement, nevertheless managed to preserve the world of segregation and even perfect it in subtler and stronger forms.
Challenging the conventional wisdom that white flight meant nothing more than a literal movement of whites to the suburbs, this book argues that it represented a more important transformation in the political ideology of those involved. In a provocative revision of postwar American history, Kruse demonstrates that traditional elements of modern conservatism, such as hostility to the federal government and faith in free enterprise, underwent important transformations during the postwar struggle over segregation. Likewise, white resistance gave birth to several new conservative causes, like the tax revolt, tuition vouchers, and privatization of public services. Tracing the journey of southern conservatives from white supremacy to white suburbia, Kruse locates the origins of modern American politics.
About the Author
Kevin M. Kruse is associate professor of history at Princeton University.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
CHAPTER ONE: "The City oo Busy to Hate": Atlanta and the Politics of Progress 19
CHAPTER TWO: From Radicalism to "Respectability": Race, Residence, and Segregationist Strategy 42
C HAPTER THREE: From Community to Individuality: Race, Residence, and Segregationist Ideology 78
CHAPTER FOUR: The Abandonment of Public Space: Desegregation, Privatization, and the ax Revolt 105
CHAPTER FIVE: The "Second Battle of Atlanta": Massive Resistance and the Divided Middle Class 131
CHAPTER SIX: The Fight for "Freedom of Association": School Desegregation and White Withdrawal 161
CHAPTER SEVEN: Collapse of the Coalition: Sit-Ins and the Business Rebellion 180
CHAPTER EIGHT: "The Law of the Land": Federal Intervention and the Civil Rights Act 205
CHAPTER NINE: City Limits: Urban Separatism and Suburban Secession 234
EPILOGUE: The Legacies of White Flight 259
List of Abbreviations 267
What People are Saying About This
This is an imaginative work that ably treats an important subject. Kruse gets beyond and beneath Atlanta's image as a place of racial moderation, the national center of the civil rights movement, and a seedbed of black political power to reveal other simultaneous, important currents at work.
Clifford Kuhn, Georgia State University
White Flight is a myth-shattering book. Focusing on the city that prided itself as 'too busy to hate,' Kevin Kruse reveals the everyday ways that middle-class whites in Atlanta resisted civil rights, withdrew from the public sphere, and in the process fashioned a new, grassroots, suburban-based conservatism. This important book has national implications for our thinking about the links between race, suburbanization, and the rise of the New Right.
Thomas J. Sugrue, Kahn Professor of History and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, author of "The Origins of the Urban Crisis"
In his study of Atlanta over the last 60 years, Kevin Kruse convincingly describes the critical connections between race, Sun Belt suburbanization, the rise of the new Republican majority. White Flight is a powerful and compelling book that should be read by anyone interested in modern American politics and post-World War II urban history.
Dan Carter, University of South Carolina
Kevin Kruse recasts our understanding of the conservative resistance to the civil rights movement. Shifting the spotlight from racial extremists to ordinary white urban dwellers, he shows that "white flight" to the suburbs was among the most powerful social movements of our time. That movement not only reconfigured the urban landscape, it also transformed political ideology, laying the groundwork for the rise of the New Right and undermining the commitment of white Americans to the common good. No one can read this book and come away believing that the politics of suburbia are colorblind.
Jacquelyn Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well-researched, this is an excellent book that looks at the shift of Atlanta's demographics and places this shift within a broader political context. Instead of looking at broad, sweeping, views and events that have been tread and retread over the decades, this history is worked from the ground up, giving a fresh perspective.