MONTICELLO — A document created to stop the racial desegregation of the South by members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, popularly known as The Southern Manifesto, is the subject of a new book by John Kyle Day, associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
The book, titled “The Southern Manifesto: Massive Resistance and the Fight to Preserve Segregation”, chronicles the efforts of southern congressional delegations to fight the emerging civil rights movement and the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which declared separate-but-equal public school systems unconstitutional. The book is being published by the University Press of Mississippi and is available through its website (http://www.upress.state.ms.us/books/1678). The book is also available for purchase at the UAM Bookstore, Amazon.com, as well as other bookstores and dealers.
“This is an important story that needs to be told,” said Day. “It’s hard to fathom in today’s climate, but this was a time when a significant portion of the U.S. Congress took a public stand against racial equality. The Southern Manifesto, in essence, allowed the white South to prevent Brown’s immediate full-scale implementation and, for nearly two decades, set a slothful timetable and glacial pace for public school desegregation. The Southern Manifesto also provided the southern congressional delegation with the means to stymie federal voting rights legislation, so that dismantling of Jim Crow laws could be managed largely on southern white terms.”
On March 13, 1956, 19 senators and 82 representatives from 11 southern states, signed the Declaration of Constitutional Principles. The document was signed by almost all of the congressional delegations of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi,North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
“This book narrates the single worst episode of racial demagoguery in modern American political history,” said Day, “and considers the statement’s impact on both the struggle for black freedom and the larger racial dynamics of postwar America.”
Day joined the UAM faculty in 2007. He holds a bachelor of arts and master of arts degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a Ph.D., from the University of Missouri-Columbia.