Ward's first book examines segregation tactics

Mississippi State faculty member Jason Morgan Ward is the author of a new book examining 20th century Southern segregation and race-based politics.

"Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965," recently published by the University of North Carolina Press, is the assistant professor of history's first book.

Ward details when and why white Southern conservatives decided that segregation was under attack. He also examines ways they attempted to mobilize in defense of the racial status quo, especially as it became clear that African Americans and their allies wanted to wipe out Jim Crow, the common designation for numerous state and local laws enacted after 1876 mandating de jure racial segregation.

"I believe that you cannot fully appreciate the courage and brilliance of the civil rights movement unless you understand what they were up against," Ward said. "If you understand the fierce opposition to civil rights in the mid-20th century, you see the movement in a new way."

His first book-signing takes place Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Square Books in Oxford.

Ward is a Duke University graduate who holds master's and doctoral degrees in history from Yale University. In addition to Southern and African American histories, his research interests include 20th century U.S. social and political history and comparative race relations.

His next book project is titled, "Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence, Grassroots Struggle, and America's Civil Rights Century." The book focuses on a Mississippi community and its connections to national civil rights politics spanning both world wars and the 1960s.

Margaret Kovar | University Relations

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