SOUTHERN LEGACY by Hodding Carter


Email this review


This is a book that needed to be written- and ought to be read by Northerners and Southerners alike. For here, in terms that even the most prejudiced should acknowledge as objective and fair, the Southern case is presented, judiciously, critically, but sympathetically- by a Southerner devoted to his own corner of the world. Mr. Carter is a journalist, a novelist. He proffers a cogent plea for the authentic characteristics of the South, and at the same time explains these characteristics as part of a surviving frontier picture, an individualistic agricultural society. He strips some of the glamour of dependence from what he calls that ""tough and resourceful breed"", the women of the South. He recognizes the fears, and explores their causes, dating back to days when the possessors had their way with the possessed, and the rules of one-way travel in white-Negro relationship were established, to survive today. He sees resultant related factors of guilt and fear, conviction of racial superiority, sex compulsions, taboos in communal living, the defense of segration. He indicates the slow progress, increase in meeting at selective levels, economic and political progress (Savannah the best example of this advance)- and charges that everything gained would be set back by legislation. He acknowledges a South too complacent of poverty- in the problem of the ""poor white"" as well as the Negro. He feels the loss to the South as youth moves out. He analyzes the legacy of absentee ownership -- ""as needless as it is abject"". He challenges the South to recognize the positive-not the negative legacies, recognizing the Negro as the scapegoat of defeat. He shows how the double standard of morality lowers the standards of white as well as Negro, leading to group dishonesties in employer-employee relationship, in politics, in education, in public health -- and ultimately in material and spiritual loss. He challenges the South to face facts, bring agriculture and industry into balance, raise the standards of all public education, at least to national levels. To be dissatisfied with the status quo and find some road to amelioration of the white-Negro relationship....The unreconstructed rebel will close his mind to Hodding Carter's case for a New South. The thoughtful Southerner, while he may dislike some of the charges brought, will feel that here at any rate a Southerner speaks out with due consideration for the Southern point of view.

Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press