Guardians of White Innocents and White Innocence
Chapter 6 focuses on the coded language that defined the opposition to desegregation. Archival letters, memos, and speeches are used to illustrate the ways that opponents resisted school desegregation. Opponents argued that racism played no factor in their opposition to desegregation but that court-ordered desegregation violated states’ rights, parents’ freedom of choice, and that busing city students to the county was too expensive of a remedy. This chapter explores and challenges those arguments. Financial data are used to show that desegregation provided lucrative benefits to white, suburban schools and concludes that while letter-writing campaigns and political speeches that were commonly used to oppose school desegregation were nonviolent, they were racist. Ultimately, the forms of “dignified disdain” that St. Louisans exhibited are examined and found to be just as harmful as the types of violent opposition to school desegregation that occurred in other cities around the country.
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