Two Generations, One Identity
This chapter presents the typical profile of the women examined in the book. Autobiographical writings and interviews show that all the women received the same white supremacist education, a combination of racist prejudices and specific gender norms, which rendered any personal interaction with black men and women impossible. It then shows how these women came to reject their education by deliberately unlearning racism and liberating themselves from the prescriptions of white southern womanhood in the process. Typically, the women who became involved in the “long” civil rights movement started with an acute sense of guilt through a traumatic episode or an epiphany constituting the catalyst for their repudiation of white supremacy. The chapter analyzes the main factors of their subsequent transformation, i.e. interracial contact, religion, and higher education. It concludes by showing how these women's racial activism inevitably entailed their emancipation from southern gender norms.
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