By Gordon E. Harvey, Richard D. Starnes, Glenn Feldman
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Additional info for History and Hope in the Heart of Dixie: Scholarship, Activism, and Wayne Flynt in the Modern South
18 The LaCrosse area’s reliance on cotton farming until the mid-twentieth century was also indicative of the lowland South, and the economic importance—to local white landowners, anyway—of the small black population likely ¤gured into the peace and stability of the community. But two other factors might also have played key roles in sparing LaCrosse from the racial violence experienced in Harrison and other Ozark communities: the black community’s apparent observance of southern racial-sexual codes and the relative scarcity of black newcomers to Izard County.
For a white college student from the hills whose grandparents once sharecropped on the same Izard County landlord’s farm as a local black family and who picked cotton alongside that black family, the prominence of the positive memories could seem a welcomed vindication of the upland South’s selfproclaimed superiority in the ¤eld of race relations. If we are fortunate, the passion to vindicate becomes a passion to explain—and the apologist becomes historian. Over the years Wayne Flynt has helped lead more than a few apologists and others groping around the periphery of scholarship into the well-worn path of the historian.
And, as observed earlier, historian Willard B. Gatewood Jr. 13 In spite of a certain logic embedded in the theory that a relatively insigni¤cant, and thus less threatening, black population would somehow tend to alleviate racial violence, scholarship over the past decade suggests that not only did small black populations not lessen the likelihood of racial violence but that the very minuteness, and thus the vulnerability, of black communities in upland South areas might actually have served as a provocation to more extreme episodes of violence.